OU blog

Personal Blogs

Page: 1 ... 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 ...84
Design Museum

Enriching stereotypes: FutureLearn 'Start Writing Fiction' with The OU

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 2 Dec 2014, 17:42
From Writing

Fig.1. No my usual spot for writing - on a retreat in Devon

Invited by the OU moderator for comments on week long series of exercise on 'enriching character; I write:

"Extraordinary. I'm on my second pass. I came through early, and now return not wanting to get ahead of the conversation. Particularly useful as I am actively writing at the moment, so this is the best of all learning because it is applied. Regarding character it about giving them shape, depth and 'points of interest' - more 6D than even the 2D we are asked to get away from. I visualise characters as hedgehogs with many prickles, but only a few of these matter to the story - though all of them matter to the notebook which I'm gradually coming to care about more and more, cursing the times I 'have a thought' and don't get it down somewhere safely. I am hugely pleased to be here and very proud to be an OU graduate already - not, sadly, from this faculty: yet!"

I'm finding the oddest of balances in my life too: writing for myself from 4.00am to 8.00am. Picking up work from 10.00am to 1.00pm. Then a siesta. I live in the wrong country for this, I'd prefer to be in a hammock in the shade by a pool. Dream on. Evenings from 5.00pm to 9.00pm I am usually 'poolside' teaching or coaching swimmers. Delighting yesterday evening to be back with some squad swimmers I last saw four years ago - now in the mid teens, some achieving amazing things in the water, all at that gangly stage of youth development my own children have come through in the last year. 

The issue then is how or where or why I fit in the OU module <<L120 L'Ouverture. Intermediate French >> I committed to. Learning a language is daunting and outside my comfort zone. What I do know now, not surprisingly, is that all learning comes about as a result of concerted and consistent effort over a long period of time. 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

L120: Activité 2.1.8Vous allez laisser une recette de cuisine sur le répondeur d’un(e) ami(e).

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 2 Dec 2014, 17:43

Faites une liste des ingrédients dont vous avez besoin pour cuisiner un plat associé à une fête que vous célébrez et prenez des notes pour décrire les étapes de la préparation de ce plat.

 Fig.1 Gâteau au chocolat

200g chocolat noir
100g sucre en poudre
120g beurre sans sel
100g d'amandes en poudre
4 œufs , séparés

+ La poudre de cacao ou de sucre glace pour décorer


1. Préchauffez à 180C / Gaz marque 4 .

2. Casser le chocolat en morceaux et le faire fondre , avec le sucre et le beurre dans un bain marie. Retirer du feu et remuer. Laisser refroidir pendant cinq minutes .

3. Mélanger les amandes. Ensuit, battre les jaunes d' œufs , un à la fois .

4. Battre les blancs d'oeufs jusqu'à ce qu'ils soient fermes et crémeux. Incorporer quelques cuillerées dans le mélange de chocolat pour l'alléger, puis incorporer délicatement le reste.

5. Verser dans un moule à gâteau et cuire au pendant 30 minutes. Laisser refroidir avant de retirer doucement. Saupoudrer de poudre de cacao ou de sucre glace et servir.

6. Faire des versions alternatives de ce gâteau en ajoutant 1 cuillère à soupe de café expresso fort et 1 cuillère à soupe de rhum / brandy ou vous pouvez essayer d'ajouter 1 / 2 cuillères à café essence d'amande et amandes effilées pour un peu de croquant

Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Emma Barkworth, Tuesday, 2 Dec 2014, 20:23)
Share post
Design Museum

How to do the French 'R'

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 27 Nov 2014, 09:43
From E-Learning V

Delightfully explained here. 

Offered as an Open Education Resource (OER) easily shared through Twitter and Facebook. Come on, let's speak French like the French  and not Ted Heath smile

And some wonderfully expressed and illustrated that we've made it into a party game at home. My wife is word perfect having gone to a French speaking school for a year age 13 in Canada. She always picks me up on the 'r' - maybe I can finally crack this.

Not easy.

I had elocution lessons as a boy age 7 as I couldn't manage my 'Rs' in English, let alone the ultimate challenge.

Brilliant. Wonderfully put and comprehensive.

Pilates for the British tongue. I still can't quite manage 'Bruno' though - something about the mouth position for the 'B' to the 'R' - currently the equivalent of trying to do a standing backflip.

Thank you. L120 Team smile

P.S. Also the most charming way to learn how to say 'tongue' with a French accent smile

 

Permalink
Share post
Design Museum

Tools worth sharing

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 27 Nov 2014, 10:12

Fig.1 Word and Tiki-Toki

Constructing a length piece of writing - over 50,000 words and need to stick to the chronology of events, at least in the first draft, I have found using the timeline creation tool Tiki-Toki invaluable. You can create one of these for FREE.

Over the last few months I've been adding 'episodes' to a timeline that stretches between 1914 and 1919. You get various views, including the traditional timeline of events stretched along an unfurling panorama. However, if you want to work with two screen side by side the 3D view allows you to scroll back and forth through the timeline within the modest confines of its window.

 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

Don't blog, do something more useful instead

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 27 Nov 2014, 13:43
From E-Learning V

Fig.1 A flippant title for the first draft of a novel set in the First World War

The power of social learning? Just come from two hours of an online meet up. On sunday as eight met in a cafe in Brighton to write. The MOOC has 20,000 on sign up. The Write a novel in a month over 200,000 - novels are written at these events and published. We'll have to see what I can do. There'll be a dedication to The OU should it ever come out.

I've prattled on about blogging and its worth for over 14 years. Regularly kindly people have suggested I stop blogging and put my energy into writing. Courtesy of FutureLearn 'Start Writing Fiction' (From The OU) and the Write a Novel in A Month think for November I have duly written close to 60,000 words. This first draft, I understand, could take two or three months to edit - that will be the next step.

Gladly my early morning hour or two has been spent on this, rather than stacking up things to blog about. Instead I have fretted about scenes, characters and plots. The FutureLearn MOOC became apt and timely 'applied' learning as I'd had to write 1,600 words a day - today I topped 4,500. 

From E-Learning V

Fig. 2. Stacking up the numbers

I would have, should have and may yet find a way to do the fully-fledged OU 'Creative Writing' BA - the FutureLearn MOOC has three more weeks to run. More than any MOOC I've ever done I feel certain that this will convert some for doing a freebie to becoming students. It'll be interesting to see what the take up it. I know the percentages from OpenLearn are very modest 0.7% being a good figure. But if there are 200,000 on the MOOC?!

I'll reflect on what this means in due course.

Learning promoted like the Lotto? With badges, prizes, write-ins, writing wars ,,, and more prizes, and tips and incentives. 

What I think it means for e-learning and what personally I have picked up. I shouldn't fret about TMAs anymore. You do a marathon and a short run ought to feel like something I can do in my stride. I always wished I could write first drafts under exam conditions then edit.

Link to the OU

Permalink
Share post
Design Museum

When 'social learning' works

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 27 Nov 2014, 10:36

Fig.1 What makes for a busy restaurant?

It's the difference between a busy restaurant and an empty one; a party you never want to leave because of the buzz and one that you wish you'd never gone to the trouble of turning up for.

Very rarely, sadly, there's been a bit of that buzz here, and twice in four years for a week or two in a student forum. Otherwise it hasn't or doesn't happen.

This is because 'social, collaborative and connected' learning isn't properly factored into the design of all OU courses - at least not until the last couple of years. 

I'm sure the techniques and platforms used at FutureLearn will find there way over here - but not, I believe until the entire system on which the OU learning operates I believe. I think there is an inherent weakness in Drupal that will never permit the kind of interactivity that is no possible on other platforms.

Fixing this will be like unknitting the Bayeux tapestry and re-stitching it in silk without anyone noticing.

Now there's an IT challenge. 

Permalink
Share post
Design Museum

Evangelical about FutureLearn

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 27 Nov 2014, 10:40

I've done enough of the FutureLearn MOOCs to be certain of one thing: those produced by The OU are incredible. Somehow, not surprising really, they know how to put on a show. Just the right amount of content, the right number and type of activities, the right amount of moderation and support.

Over the last few years I've see a quest for a format that can be a panacea for challenges to learning. Setting aside the obvious need for a person to have the kit, the line and therefore the budget to use online learning ... and probably a space, or context where they can do so undisturbed for regular parts of the day, there have been various efforts over the last decade to make 'social learning' or 'connected and collaborative' learning work.

FutureLearn is now achieving this. 

I've done, or tried to do some FutureLearn MOOCs that are either make false promises and are rather hollow in content, failing to exploit the value of the platform, and others that are so intense that I feel you need to be a postgraduate with a niche interest. In both these cases I could simply say that very different target audiences were addressed: school leavers and those applying to university in some instances, those seeking to go on to PhD research at the other. In which case, no wonder I struggle to relate to either one. 

Permalink
Share post
Design Museum

Perhaps I'll return each year to repeat this module. World War 1: Trauma and Memory

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 27 Nov 2014, 10:42

The pleasures of the FutureLearn MOOC: World War 1 Trauma and Memory

Should I return, each time I'll be happier to stand back and let others find their way. I will have read more, seen more, thought more and written more. If I can help nudge others towards finding their own 'truth' I will have done something useful.

Inevitably over the next five years many of us will become imbued with a unique sensibility on the subject. I think my perceptions shift on walks, or in the middle of the night.

TV is a mixed bag, and I'm reluctant to recommend much of it, however I am currently watching ad watching again the brilliantly smart, moving, visualised, engaging 'War of Word' Soldier Poets of the Somme which is far broader than the title may suggest - this goes well beyond the obvious to paint a vivid sense of how impressions of violent conflict alter and sicken.

Several of these poets are now forgotten, but celebrated here, as we come to understand how they transitioned from glorification and patriotism on joining up to the ghastly reality. War of Words: Soldier-Poets of the Somme must have been shown on BBC2 in the last week or so - available for a month I think. Very worth while. Expertly done. A variety of approaches. Never dull. Often surprising and some stunning sequences of animations to support readings of short extracts from the poems. And it even tells the story of British Military advances during the period running up to, through and after the Battle of the Somme. 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

Forever gobsmacked by the quality and speed of research using the OU Library

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 27 Nov 2014, 10:48
From First World War

From time to time I am faced with finding the most obscure of articles.

I came across something about the Ambulance Service using motorbikes during the First World War. I then saw a photograph of a motorbike with a sidecar with a set of platforms that would carry two stretchers. The arguments for the use of a motorcycle are made: lighter, quicker, tighter turning circle, use less fuel ...

A article is cited. The British Medical Journal, January 1915. A few minutes later via the Open University Online Library I locate and download the article.

It is the speed at which quality research can be fulfilled that thrills me. This article is satisfying in its own right, but glancing at the dozen or more articles on medical practices and lessons from the Front Line are remarkable. We are constantly saved from the detail of that conflict, the stories and issues regurgitated and revisited as historians read what previous historians said without going back to the original source.

This is how a new generation can come up with a fresh perspective on the First World War - instead of a handful of specialist academics burrowing in the paper archives now thousands, even tens of thousands can drill right down to the most pertinent, untampered with content. 

From First World War

Amazed. 

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 19 Nov 2014, 17:56)
Share post
Design Museum

Each November: grieving the dead and our unchanged world

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 17 Nov 2014, 08:22
From First World War

Fig.1 Grieving the dead and our unchanged world a century on - despair at the unending violence

We are still grieving, we grandchildren and great-children. The world notices this.

What is this loss that the British and Commonwealth countries of the former British Empire feel so tangibly and personally? I see a different commemoration in France. I wonder how the First World War is remembered in Serbia? And Russia? And the US?

Ours was a pyrrhic victory in 1919. And the job wasn't finished. How else could there have been a second world war after the first?

Britain ceased to be the pre-eminent world power it had come to be and has been leaking influence in fits and starts ever since.

Cameron to Putin is not Churchill to Stalin, which is why this country needs Europe - better united than alone.

And how does this play out in grief and art then, since and now? The distribution of wealth began - a bit. Domestic service as a career or layer of society very quickly washed away - people didn't want to do it while the landed gentry were feeling increasingly vulnerable and broke. When we grieve every November do we grieve for a golden age, as well as for those whose life chances were destroyed?

Listening to Metallica 'One' inspired by the anti-war movie 'Johnny Get Your Gun' transcends 90+ years of this sickening grief we feel concerning the First World War 

Permalink
Share post
Design Museum

War breeds hate; hate festers and breeds war.

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 17 Nov 2014, 08:18

Fig.1 At the war memorial to the Machine Gun Corps on Hyde Park Corner, 1991. I'm with my late grandfather - dark suit and beige shoes, fourth in from the right. That's me on the far left of the line in the glasses holding the standard. (Volunteered about five minutes previously) Marking the 75th Anniversary of the formation of the MCG in 1916.

I've just completed fascinating couple of weeks, often gruelling on The OU's World War 1: Trauma and Memory on the FutureLearn MOOC platform.

My love for The OU is restored. Everyone should pick a course from FutureLearn to understand where learning is being taken. You cannot go wrong with an OU lead and designed one of these - some of the others are re-versioned books, leaflets, extra curricular workshops and lecture series, not embracing the affordances of the platform at all.

An eye opener for anyone studying learning - go over there anyone studying education.

At the end of each week, which officially run for the five working days of the week, we are invited to reflect on the lessons learnt. A very significant part of this are the 'massive' conversations that follow each 'activity'. 

A week of looking at and contemplating the dead from violent conflict I conclude that 'war breeds hate; hate festers and breeds war.' Unless the population is wiped out, or dived between the conquerors. Or unless the conquerors stay put - the Normans eventually subjugated England and Scotland and 1000 years on some of them still rule and own the land.

Responses to hatred are diametrically opposed: forgiveness and peace, blame and violent conflict. Has humankind moved on that far from the tribalism of one or two millennia ago?  If young men, the typical combat soldier truly understood what could happen to them would they still go? It applies to every kind of risk, and testosterone fuelled it is more of a male thing? This willingness to take outrageous risks believing that it 'won't happen to them'. And of course, commemorating 'our glorious dead' and 'returning heroes' risks celebrating war rather than being a period of reflection and commemoration. A veteran of WW1 my grandfather never used the term 'heroic'. Do young people joining up think that if nothing else, wounded, or dead in a coffin, they will at least come back 'a hero' - making it OK? And yet, however frightful, violent conflict remains a way that peoples, people, cultures attempt to resolve their differences.

It'll continue until the world's resources and 'life chances' - are fairly distributed. I feel the awakening of a burgeoning political sensibility that may wobble towards republicanism and socialism. 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

What are MOOCs doing for learning?

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 17 Nov 2014, 08:24

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are new and FutureLearn, a wholly owned subsidiary of The OU is itself adapting as traditional institutions embrace e-learning, respond to feedback and results and improve.

MOOCs will be new for a decade.

E-learning like this is not a lecture series online, TV online, a book online, quiz or a tutorial online. Whilst this is invariably the starting place for 'ground based' educators, the academics working with instructional designers, not in isolation, need increasingly to begin with a blank sheet rather than looking at the physical assets of academics, books, lectures and papers around them.

What we are witnessing today is that transition from the Wright Brothers to the World War One fighter planes. We are seeing hints of the jets to come. We are a long way from drones. I use the analogy having just completed a wonderful three-week MOOC 'World War 1: Aviation Comes of Age'.

Innovations go through recognisable phases.

E-learning in the forms of MOOCs is still at the stage of 'early adoption' - rest-assured they will become commonplace, though surely with a different name. MOOCs can be a hybrid during a transitional phase so long as this is seen as the first step in many away from traditional approaches, embracing what works online.

Academics need to come out of their cupboard, come away of their studies and welcome into their midst those of us seeking to understand and to integrate the processes involved - that combination of learning and e-learning: how and why we learn and how then scale (massiveness), interactivity (digital) and connectivity (openness) changes things. In time, when the academics themselves have reached their status of 'doctor' and 'professor' through e-learning, when we can call all them 'digital scholars' rather than simply 'scholars', then we'll be able to look down from the clouds and smile at how much things have changed.

Think evolution not revolution.

Think how long it will take to see out the current generation of academics - thirty to fifty years?

Ultimately MOOCs are about a combination of sequential activities and 'interactivities', collaboration and connection.

Gilly Salmon coined the term 'e-tivities': sadly not in common usage, it nonetheless captures beautifully what is required for students to learn online - doing stuff, alone, with other students and with the academics.

Collaboration is a long held view of a kind of learning in 'communities of practice' most associated with the academics Lave and Wenger: how working together is a more effective for of constructed learning.

While 'connectivity', often associated with the academic George Siemens, is the new kid on the 'learning theories' block. Connectedness as a way of learning is dependent on a few things: the affordances of the platform to permit this with ease: if you have the opportunity compare current student messaging and blogging platforms at your institution with those at FutureLearn which has stripped back the unnecessary and concentrated on this 'connectivity'; the number and mix of participants: massive helps as a small percentage of a group will be the front runners and conversationalists with others benefiting from listening in, out of choice not pressure and the 'quality' of the participants in that they need to have both basic 'digital literacy' skills and reliable access based on their kit and connection.

Embrace the pace of change

A lean and smart organisation will tumble over itself, re-inventing and experimenting with ways things are done until clear methodologies present themselves for specific types of learning experience: 'head work' is different to' handiwork' - academic study is different from applied practice. Subjects freed from books and formal lectures, like the genii released from the bottle will, in the cloud, form into shapes that are most suited to their learners and what is being taught: blended and 'traditional' learning most certainly have their place.

Academic snobbery is a barrier to e-learning

John Seely Brown, working out of the Palo Alto Research Centre, famous for coming up with the WYSIWYG interface between us and computers and a 'learning guru' is passionate about the idea of 'learning from the periphery' - this is how and when someone new to a subject, or team, hangs around at the edges, learning and absorbing what is going on at the heart. The wonder of open learning is the participation of equally brilliant and curious minds, some who know a good deal on a subject while others are just starting out, eager to listen, willing to ask questions that may be naïve but are usually insightful; in the two-way exchange both the die-hard academic and the newbie change for the better. Learning feeds of this new fluidity.

It is evidence of the 'democratisation' of learning.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

How to pronounce anything!? Even 'Bruno' with a French accent

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 12 Nov 2014, 08:34
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. Pronunciations around the globe

Learning French with The OU I am finding the toughest task is to kill my British accent. I've been using Rosetta Stone too. There are certain words with combinations of letters that fox the English tongue.

You know you're mastering French, for example, when you can differentiate between the subtleties of 'de' and 'deux'. Do you want some croissants or two? 'Trois' and 'quatre' may flumox you too, so perhaps go in wanting two of the things, ask for five, as 'cinq' is easy on the English tongue, then hide or eat the spare three on the way back to the campsite?

Anyway, as I'm working with the written and the spoken word and I'm used to Googling everything I was delighted to come across a website that purports to help you correctly pronounce anything. 

I was toying with words such as 'Victoire' and who wouldn't get their tongue tied with 'Hesdigneul.'

The 'grin from ear to ear' fun came when I looked up 'Bruno'. 

I had a French friend in my teens called 'Bruno' and I could not, for the life of me get his name right. It always sounded like Bruno, as in 'Frank Bruno'.

What this site does is it gives you sixty versions of how 'Bruno' is pronounced all over the world. Click on the UK, then somewhere in France and you'll see what I mean.

I laughed even more when I put my own name in, to hear 'Jonathan' said in a Swedish, Taiwanese, American, French and German accent.

Go on, give it a go smile

 

Permalink
Share post
Design Museum

Charting Progress to 'Write a Novel in a Month'

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 12 Dec 2014, 07:26
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. Write a novel in a month

Not blogging, not on Facebook, but first thing I write, or plan writing. Then get down anything between 500 and 3000 words. 500 words can be a better day, these are good words.

As an OU student we are guided through our learning on our Student Homepage. These are like railway tracks, or climbing down a ladder. Whilst you can tick off your progress, it is not being measured.  I wonder if a tool such as the above would be handy for preparing a lengthy assignment, say from 4000 words up? Something that you need to build up over a few weeks?

It is 'Start Writing Fiction', an OU FutureLearn MOOC that sees me using 'Write a novel in a month' to complement the course. This makes the MOOC more closely applied to the current task (amongst several). Of all the FutureLearn MOOCs I have done, this, I am sure, must bring students to The OU to do the degree course in 'Creative Writing'. It has weight, there is gravitas and a clear expertise in distance and online learning that is lacking in many others. 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

There's a word for everything

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 12 Dec 2014, 07:28
From E-Learning V

Fig.1 Adventures in describing teeth types

'Start Writing Fiction' on FutureLearn courtesy of The OU is brilliant: I have no doubt thousands will sign up for a BA. Meanwhile I've taken the hint about the value of 'peripheral detail' to offer in a line what no paragraphs of description can do.

Several hours ago I had in mind a person as a character and began to describe their face. It all came down to their teeth. This is drawing on a teenage crush of mine and I find images and drawings to back up my idea then plunge through some weighty papers, not least, courtesy of The OU Library, a research paper on the incidence of something called 'dental agenesis' or 'retention of baby teeth' (which might be just one or two), to 'oligontontia' which means the rare retention of many baby teeth (0.14%) due probably to inheritance, reduction in the size and form of teeth, or reduction in the size and shape of the 'alveolar process' (the thickness of the bon retaining the teeth). 

This will do for me, though coming away with one word, 'retruded' which may describe the teeth, but still fails to capture what I want to say. Teeth are either smaller, retained baby teeth, or because of the retrusion they appear smaller. Kirsten Dunst shows a touch of this prior to orthodentic treatment. 

From E-Learning V

Fig.2 Post orthodentics for retruded teeth

Orthodentists prefer to adjust the way baby teeth appear in an adult mouth rather than removing them. It depends on how many there are. One is not rare (36%).

The look on the person is of a smaller jaw, the teeth like a row of pegs, the smile of a 9 year old ... though, as I have found, you wouldn't know it.

It is genetic, clusters have be found in Sweden. It can be caused by trauma and illness in childhood.

I am left wondering why one character is studying the mouth of another which such precision. 

REFERENCE

Polder B J, van’t H of M A, Van der Linden F P, Kuijpers-Jagtman A M. A meta analysis of the prevalence of dental agenesis of permanent teeth. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol 2004; 32: 217–226.

 

Permalink 3 comments (latest comment by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 9 Nov 2014, 19:07)
Share post
Design Museum

How have things changed?

Visible to anyone in the world
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. Reader's Digest 'The Gardening Year' 1963

In previous years by November 5th the leaves of deciduous trees have mostly gone. This year some are yet to turn orange and fall. Picking up the fifty year old book on gardening I saw the above. 

By how much have the seasons changed marked by the first and last frost. This year may be exceptional but the averages must have changed a lot? I remember snow on the fells in Cumbria in late September. That seems unlikely. Growing up as a boy 100 years ago my grandfather spoke of 'real winters' with deep snow and being snowed in for several weeks on the fells of County Durham. 

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 9 Nov 2014, 19:10)
Share post
Design Museum

Turn on the radio and take note of the first thing that is mentioned

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 12 Dec 2014, 07:31
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. Week 2, 'Start Writing Fiction' with The OU on FutureLearn

As exercises in 'getting the writing juices going' for an OU FutureLearn MOOC on 'Start Writing Fiction' I felt that this exercise was immediately doomed to fail. I'd put on the radio and have a familar presenter, talking about familar topic in a familiar way and feel about as inspired as realising that I've always used white Abdrex toilet paper. It didn't work out that way at all.

From E-Learning V

Fig. 2. Alex Salmond coming up Lewes High Street - Putin was coming the over way on a tank

On an iPad I went to BBC iPlayer which was fatal; I'd followed national news on our local town exploding effigies as part of our celebrations of 5th November (Lewes) and listened to Alex Salmond making gross false assumptions on the people of this town who he erroneously cobbled in with all of East Sussex, not even that, but that percentage of the population and subsequent councillors who are Conservatives forgetting as he always does that in any population there is a spread of views - anyway, this just makes me feel that they have his character spot in so this Spitting Image caricature deserves the infamy. I then watched Film 2014 on the latest movie releases before finally clicking to the radio and realising what a cheat this was because I could select the programme.

FiveLive Extra caught my eye, because I never listen to it, but there is a lot of talking. So I opened that, only to curse because sports news has just started and that bores me even more than politics but I decided I had to trust The OU tutors and go along with this exercise anyway : that was nearly 90 minutes ago. A player in ... was it tennis or rugby or football, does it matter? The player was described as 'menacing'.  At first I couldn't see how a current or new character would ever be 'menacing' so I tried the antonym: 'remote', 'unthreatening' - which describes one of my lead characters perfectly.

From E-Learning V

Fig.3. Wonderous word tools - thesaurus.com

What would make him 'menacing' though?

This cracked open his mind and early life experiences like magic and I have been tapping away on my iPad ever since as if my left hand is doing an impersonation of Michael Flately across the glassy QWERTY keyboard. Is that someone who has been a Lewes Bonfire Society effigy? 

P.S. If the radio is on, then turn it off and count to TEN, or switch to another channel. Then jot down the first thing that is said. I'm running with the results for the rest of the evening so its achieved beautifully at what it aimed to do.

A really magic course, so yes, if I hadn't so much other OU baggage I'd be signing up to the creative writing BA programme. One for the wish list if I can ever save up enough. 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

Putin rides into Lewes on a tank

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 5 Nov 2014, 20:51
From 2BlogI

Fig.1 Putin on a tank during Nov 5th bonfire celebrations

Every bonfire society marching through Lewes pulls a float - this one of President Putin in a mankini riding a tank drew a good deal of attention. At the end of the evening he gets taken to a fire site and blown up. I detect a Polish influence. Or do we all think he needs to have a rocket shoved where the monkey puts its nuts?

From 2BlogI

Fig.2. Putin's tank heading for the Borough Bonfire Society firesite

Previous stars of the parade have included David Cameron, Tony Blair, George Bush (Jnr) and Angela Merkel and the regional chief of police. Alot of people were saying it should have been Nigel Farage. 

From 2BlogI

Fig.3. At least he's not topless.

New costumes I noticed in town this evening with Suffragettes and VADs 'Voluntary Aid Detachment Nurses from the First World War. A random Gandalf and Superman, otherwise the usual 17th century buccaneers, Native Indian Chiefs, Confederate Soldiers ... and such. 

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 6 Nov 2014, 06:40)
Share post
Design Museum

Future Learn WW1 Aviation

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 9 Dec 2014, 21:55

 Fig. 1 Flight Cadet John Arthur Minty, RAF Crail late 1918

A fascinating stimulus to further study, though by its title and how grouped in WW1 themes by FutureLearn I would have expected the focus to have been the rise of aviation during the First World War to the exclusuion of all else, with some introduction to aviation coming into the Great War and a period to reflect on the interwar years. There have been criticisms by fellow travellers on the broad and 'open' nature of the learning experience as if kearning should be exclusive and elitist. 'Open' should mean exactly that for a myriad of reasons. Fundamentally this is about the quality of learning through the amazing 'connectedness' of the Internet and the recreation online of a 'community of practice'. It is also about what the former Xerox Head of Learning John Seely Brown calls 'learning from the periphery' where experts at the centre attract and welcome the newcomers on the fringe and finally, it is about 'vicarious' learning, not always knowing what you are going to get - the many insights and surprises that we've had here. I'm sure people aren't making full use of the tools to filter these massive threaded discussions: by recent activity across the topics, by those you follow and where there may be a reply to your own comment. To design, write and manage a MOOC you need to do them. 

Most MOOCS and most online courses, struggle with the quizzes. These deserve as much thought and preparation as a lecture series. They are hard to do well. The very best examples I've found were created on a platform called 'Spaced-Ed' now QStream by a team originating from the Harvard Medical School supporting Junior Doctors. Multiple choice can be a stimulating learning experience in its own right: challenging participants to use what they have learnt, and adding to this knowledge by making them think through responses that are not necessarily obvious. Replies to getting the answer right or wrong need to recognise the choices made and then inform, guide or further the learning experience. For the only example I've seen across six FutureLearn MOOCs where they are getting it right is The OU's module on 'Start Writing Fiction' where the 'quiz' makes you think. They don't need to be light-hearted.

If the BBC are closely involved in the production of video sequences then I'd expect three things: ideas around presentation that work, are relevant and make you think; media training for non-professional presenters and however done to 'broadcast' standards technically and stylistically.

What a truly brilliant discussion. I need to get my head around this and my copious notes from my mechanically minded late grandfather who trained as a fighter pilot in 1918 and was fascinated by the engines and had a few near-fatal scrapes with the things when they failed mid-flight. I'll wake him up, or bring his ashes over to the computer so that he can listen in!

Permalink
Share post
Design Museum

The Power of Persuasion

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 4 Nov 2014, 08:17

 

From E-Learning V

Fig.1. The art of persuasion - sometimes devious, often from advertising, needed in open e-learning to get then hold your attention

Some of the most memorable classes of my school years were delivered by inspired and enthusiastic teachers. Decades on I realise that they would have made terrific salesmen. Perhaps that's what they went in to?

They used the power of persuasion to get our attention, keep it, plant some useful ideas and leave us hungry for me. I had an English teacher like that, for a term. I had an art teacher like that. Quite a keen sports coach. Geography was OK. Physics too. And most especially Maths, yet, looking at straight As in Maths and Add Maths I cannot logically see why I took no interest beyond O' Levels - incompatible with English and Art? A brother who had done Maths at A' Level and done disastrously badly? 

The power of persuasion is what is needed in e-learning too, especially if this dynamic, response human being at the head of the class isn't there to hold your attention: think Robin Williams in 'Dead Poets Society'. So turning to OpenLearn and FutureLearn are these courses not simply getting your attention, but holding on to it? Best of all 'converting you' into a student who buys the book and signs up for the course?

Anyway, once too often I've become engaged in something online that has the stickiness of a Chameleon's tongue on a bluebottle's back. You can get so drawn into these, the empathy, the survey, the sincerity ... and you are slowly reeled in like the proverbial sea-trout at the end of a nightlong vigil on the Esk.

Write a novel in a month is doing something similar, but in a less devious way. In fact, Write a Novel in a Month is a service, as well as a tool. I could imagine getting through to a 50,000 word count with it by the end of November and then feeling OK about making a donation. 

 

From E-Learning V

Fig.2 41,631 words to go to complete a first draft by the end of November

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

The power of Open Learning

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 3 Nov 2014, 18:29

Over the last few weeks I've followed a number of FutureLearn Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS). These have been and are:

  1. World War One: Trauma and Memory. Anika Mombauer. The OU. Just Started.
  2. Start Writing Fiction. Derek Neal. The OU. Week one of eight 1/8
  3. World War One: Aviation Comes of Age. Peter Gray. The University of Birmingham. Completed. 3/3
  4. World War One: Paris 1919: A New World ... Christian Tams. The University of Glasgow. Completed. 3/3
  5. How to Succeed At: Writing Applications: The University of Sheffield. Completed. 3/3

By now a pattern is emerging.

All these creators will learn from the experience. Learners tool will become used to this kind of massive, collaborative experience as well. Quite often learners so that it isn't pitched right - most often in some of the above that it is too 'lite', though I have found some here and elsewhere daunting. None of the above are aimed at postgraduate research students, though that is what some in the audience had hoped for. The writing applications split between Sixth Formers applying to uni and 50 year olds looking for a career change. 

Fragmentation will occur if too many courses are offered at different levels on the same subject.

The appeal of Open learning is that it attracts all types. Those new to the subject should be given enough in the daily pieces of content something to get them started, while references and links give those who know the subject something fresh to look at. The audience diversity creates a stimulating conversation that is never overwhelming once you are used to it. There can be 5,000, 10,000 even 20,000 registered on the course and threads can run to 1000 posts and be updated by the minute. You don't have to read everything. I say 'all comers' but this precludes some levels of accessibility, different languages and most broadly of all those who don't have the kit or network to get online. They have more pressing concerns. 

The content is as usable on a large screen or a small one: on your Smart TV or a Smart phone.

FutureLearn give you three ways to filter the content that most people miss:

Activity

In a unit, or topic you can see the latest from:

  • Everyone - speaks for itself
  • Following - those you have chosen to follow on this course
  • Replies - responses to things you have posted.

Once you get a sense of who is there and whether you want to follow all or some of it you can make these choices. I find I follow a couple of people who are incredibly knowledgeable and on the ball, a couple who have some knowledge like me, and then a few newbie enthusiasts who I gravitate towards to encourage - embolden some of the most observant and insightful questions come from them because they haven't been cocooned in the 'commonly held view'.

From a learning perspectives I'd call upon:

  • 'Communities of Practice' (Lave & Wenger)
  • 'Learning from the periphery' from John Seely Brown
  • ideas of 'Learning vicariously' from Cox.

There are possibly 30 or 40 posts on each of these in my blog here.

I am on a national panel advising universities and institutions in the creative arts on how to develop MOOCs. FutureLearn is certainly a platform for some of them. The challenge, which I have seen attempted here at The OU is to create a platform where students can collaborate using visualizations and visuals: stills, graphics and photos will do for now, but in due course sharing sound files and video clips will be needed as well. I like the idea of a motion capture system recording how a student draws or paints, as you would with an elite athlete - there is a way to do these things that can be taught and corrected so long as it is obsered. 

What these MOOCs create, when they get it right, is a hub, or bazaar like buzz of human interaction between the 'elders and the wise' and others in a broad community. It is not always or necessarily the 'expert', the Professor that knows the most. In these platforms it works best when they set the scene, offer some content and ideas, then let the conversations do the rest. I find that myths and half-figured out ideas are debunked and shaped as first one person, then another adds this piece of evidence or that idea, or explains something in a slightly different way that suddenly makes sense.

There a pattern in here for me: the First World War, writing fiction ... and here with the OU - French. I have, on and off, researched and written a couple of stories set in this era: one a woman who flies over the Western Front which I might have spent over two years on, another involving the antics of the young Edward, Prince of Wales which I only started five weeks ago. Immersing myself in the place and the language helps.

 

 

 

 

Permalink
Share post
Design Museum

FutureLearn

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 2 Nov 2014, 09:17
From Jack Wilson MM

Fig.1. Lieutenant Munday and Flight Cadet Green - Killed 23rd November 1918 during training, RAF Crail - photograph taken by my late grandfather, flight cadet J A Wilson MM

Especially if you are on an MAODE module you need to take a course on FutureLearn to experience for yourself how 'connected' and 'collaborative' learning works. The specialist MOOC I am doing on the development of aviation during the First World War has over 9,000 participants, the 'Start Writing Fiction' course has over 20,000. Things happen when the number of this high.

Looking at these it is some trick to find the middle path between 'lite' TV style for people sitting back on the sofa expecting some kind of introductory 'edutainment' from Channel 5, to full-on academic sitting forward activity at your desk and keyboard.

For the first time I see how this is like no other platform or medium that has gone before, so everyone, The OU and FutureLearn included, is having an enthusiastic stab at it and learning massively as a result: how to do it better, how to fix weaknesses in the pedagogy and content and where to go next - repeat, fragment, enhance ... 

Keeping it simply is key, a fabulously intuitive and well designed interface is vital, and, unlike US equivalents, not shoving the begging bowl and adverts in your face at every opportunity.

The quizzes need to become smart multiple-choice activities - though these are exceedingly hard to write well as other FutureLearn courses are finding. It is was of the areas that receives most feedback from those who hate them, those who get irritated at getting an answer wrong and wanting to blame someone and those offering ways to do it better.

And tougher 'assignments' could be offered, but this requires close scrutiny and marking by those who are academically qualified to do so and has to come with a proper fee. These produced issues of their own. If 1% of those on the First World War Aviation course decided to submit an assignment and pay a fee of £400 where would the university find the academics to do the marking of 900 essays, however good the money. I did complete an assignment for a MOOC provided by Oxford Brookes because I wanted postgraduate credits and a certificate - so that's 10 credits towards something. 

A fascinating time to be taking part in a way of learning that is in its fledgling stages ...

As it is an 'open' platform there's no stopping those of us with an interest from coming back as we do the extra reading and sharing what we find. 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

Write a novel in a month or get tips over three

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 2 Nov 2014, 09:46

Creative writing with The OU on FutureLearn

From E-Learning V

And as you're inspired register you word count to complete a 50,000 word novel in a month. 

Write a novel in a month

Permalink
Share post
Design Museum

L120: Reflection - Four Weeks in

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 31 Oct 2014, 07:30
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. Where to find resources and tasks for L120 L'Ouverture - Intermediate French from Livre 1

The above suggests a simplicity that isn't apparent when you have to do it, rather as if the module has been constructed by deconstructing and uploading an interactive DVD and trying to re-assemble its many fragmented parts. For example, to reach the interactive activities these are the required steps. Of course, although wasn't quit to figure that out, I can and now do save the link either to the Unit (step 6 of 9) or the Session.

The SIX trajectories given above (fig.1) are slightly disingenuous as all but the physical books (livres) split several, even many more times: there are many tutors to pick through, not just your own; the OU and the OU communities sound like two things but are each split many ways while both the AV materials and Assessment materials are offered as a clickable list. We go from these branches to multiple twigs in one, potentially confusing step. I'm going to do an more complete mindmap to get my head around this and then share it here for others on L120. I'll be unpicking the 'design architecture' as it were.

I'm slowly getting my head around this 'landscape' though <<ce n'est pas toujours evident en mon avis>>>.

Stages:

  1. StudentHome
  2. L120 Ouverture
  3. Audio-visual resources
  4. Audio-visual interactive materials
  5. L120 Ouverture
  6. Unité 1
  7. Session 5; Révision
  8. Activité 8
  9. Activité 1.5.2

Learning entirely online as I have done for the best part of three years 2010-2013, as well as two subsequent MAODE modules can lead you to expect that any module will be a simple case of going to the schedule, then clicking through the eight or none or more activities, ticking the boxes as you go along and wracking up the tally to complete the week. This 'pure' online learning has its strengths and weaknesses; it is wholly apt for the study of e-learning. This OU Language module is 'blended' - there are a few face-to-face gatherings, and, I think, once a month we gather online for an hour, as we did last night. Otherwise, the 'activities' are both 'online' and as we used to say 'off-line'. The online content here is not set out as a series of steps, but as the above graphic indicates, offered in a variety of locales. This makes it akin to entering a faculty and having to find your way between the library, lecture hall and tutor rooms, and the computer lab. 

I'm playing a little catch-up as I was right to be worried that I should be doing, I think six to eight hours a week, rather than three or four. A brilliant innovation (I think) is the human contact with a 'Buddy' some helpful lad, a former student, who is more readily available than the tutors/associate lectures to point us in the right direction. Just as one has at university to keep freshers from going adrift.

See how these two environments are learning from each other, the best of each world being adopted by the other?

About time. Traditional universities will have to become as good as this as the OU. One day what differentiates the OU will be lost. Oxford Brookes is catching up. Some schools have excellent VLEs - this is what students will come to expect. The VLE at the University of Birmingham, where I've been a student for the last year, is worse then dreadful. FutureLearn shows the way to go.

One day the OU ought to have more residential courses, halls of residences or colleges, faculties that can be readily entered by students ... and even satellite centres globally.

On Verra. Martha Lane Fox is an inspired choice of new chancellor for the Open University.

I'm waiting for 'Lastminute revision dotcom'

p.s. is the spellchecker really identifying both poor spelling in English and in French? Cool!

Permalink
Share post
Design Museum

Gouvernes d'un avion

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 30 Oct 2014, 08:16
From E-Learning V

 Fig.1. Gouvernes d'un avion : From La site des éditions Larousse

This is brilliant. It's from the French, free 'encyclopédie' from Larousse. It's a wee animation. You click on each of the boxes to understand how a plane banks, turns, does up and down. For those of us learning French, rather than learning to fly, I find this wonderful.

Is there an equivalent in the English language?

I don't see Wikipedia full of animations, or the Encyclopaedia Britannica ... the BBC, or BBC bite-size do these kinds of things.

I want to call it an 'OER' and 'Open Educational Resource' but is it in fact a 'CER' a 'Copyright protected Educational Resource' ?

My reading French is stretched reading intellectual property law, however carefully composed and laid out.

I guess you need to link to it rather then embed in a course. I don't teach French, but I'd give a class on a warm summer's afternoon on 'how to fly' in French to keep their attention ... and then perhaps get onto an X-box and fly a Sopwith Camel over the trenches of the First World War?

All fun and games

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Page: 1 ... 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 ...84

This blog might contain posts that are only visible to logged-in users, or where only logged-in users can comment. If you have an account on the system, please log in for full access.

Total visits to this blog: 5340178