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I tried offering advice to someone who has joined an open course online about what they may, should or should not reveal about themselves: what do you think?

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What you chose to share, reveal or say will be related to your own personal history and whether, potentially, revealing things to those who know you might have consequences - unlikely in my personal experience unless you actually know people here. Common sense and for legal reasons you don't want to be writing about and naming real people that could be libelous while you don't want to share personal stories about yourself unless you are comfortable with that. Again, unlikely, but you don't probably want strangers or people from your past turning up on your doorstep - if this is the case it makes sense not to reveal or to give away where you live and work. So, despite billions of pages of content online, whenever you are 'here' you are potentially leaving a 'crumb trail'. This can be down to personality too - we all know people who simply do not want to engage online in this way. Sorry to sound at all disconcerting as the upside is the extraordinary opportunity to engage with 'like-minds' from all over the world smile

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Deaf in one ear with an ear infection

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 29 Oct 2014, 14:18
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. Perforated Eardrum - before and after surgery

This has lasted a week. It's barely been bad enough to send me to my bed, but the drops and painkillers have knocked me out while the ear-thing has sent me all lopsided. I appreciate entirely that there are people with and who have significant and lasting disabilities here, so I don't mean to diminish by any means what they go through or need to overcome, it has simply made me realise all kinds of things that never struck me while doing the MAODE module on accessibility.

We're aware of those suits people can wear to get a feel for what it is like to be heavily pregnant - who do they use it on? Teeangers?  Is there value though in the able-bodied getting some sense of what it is like to have an impairment by, for example, blocking their ears for a number of hours, wearing a blindfold and restricting their day to a wheelchair, even typing while wearing gloves. In swimming we get swimmers to try swimming with their fists closed in order for them to appreciate the importance of the correctly shaped hand.

Everything, particularly to do with sound, is different.

If someone calls my name I struggle to know where they are - upstairs, downstairs or behind the door. When I shave it sounds as if I have my ear pressed against the wooden floor while it is attacked with a rotary sander. I feel unbalanced, and totter a bit when getting up and have tripped too as if I can't quite place my left leg. 

I did the idiot thing of putting the phone to the 'wrong ear' and wondered why the person had stopped talking. If I sleep on my right side the silence would be pleasing except for the constant 'sandy' electronic interference like sound in my left ear.

When you have a problem to solve it helps to do something completely different, either to take a break, or bring someone in who has nothing to do with a project. This blocked ear thing is temporarily skewing or tipping so much, as if one end of the shelf has collapsed and all the books have fallen off.

Trusting it won't last because for now if at any time it looks as if I am my sunny self it's something I'm putting on. The ear will be syringed on Tuesday. It could well be perforated in which case I ought not be using ear-drops. if it is perforated then there needs to be surgery. I suspect that it is and I remember how. I pushed a piece of cold, stiff silcone into my ear and then wore headphones over these when trying to block out the sound of a fire alarm in a B&B, not because there was a fire, but because the alert to say the battery was flat was ringing every two minutes all night long.

CONCLUSION

It was earwax. A jet of warm water into my ear and it was gone. Like three wet cornflakes squashed together. How did they det in there?

 

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What Maka Paka knows about learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 29 Oct 2014, 14:09
From E-Learning V

Fig.1 Maka Paka on the prowl for someone's face to wash ... and random stones to stack, count and give away.

I adore In the Night Garden in my fifties, the way I loved The Magic Roundabout when I was six. I've worked for Ragdoll, met Pob, been to the Teletubbies set and follow the work and thinking of Andrew Davenport who recreates the world of the child as it learns to talk quite brilliantly.

Recently I was for the umpteenth time talking about the importance of understand how and why we forget before you try and get anyone, including yourself, to remember a thing, Watching Maka Paka (above) learning to count is a fabulous example of repetition, discovery and repeat. 

Now, if I had "In the Night Garden' I could learn babytalk in several languages; I don't suppose its very different.

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Debbie Wiseman on Desert Island Discs: My knicker drawer is a disaster area

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 24 Oct 2014, 14:20

I can relate to this

Debbie WisemanAudio player: Debbie Wiseman : Desert Island Discs

"Take me through your working day," said Kirsty Young.

If I've got a deadline

I love very, very, early in the morning

The best time of day because there is nobody around, its quiet

I love between 6 and 9

There's something about having to focus

If I didn't have a deadline I'd sit at the piano and waffle; I'd procrastinate. 

Do you relate to this?

Owl or lark?!

 

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Proud and happy to call myself a 'Master of Arts'

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 29 Oct 2014, 14:13
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. Mr Kung Fu - was he the master or the pupil?

When I completed enough modules early last year to graduate as a 'Master of Arts: Open and Distance Education' I felt like a fraud; I'd scraped through, more importantly I didn't feel I was 'fluent' enough in the subject. One module, H817 had been replaced and had felt a little dated at the time. This is why I've ended up doing a couple more MA modules from the MAODE - I have only one missing from the full set (H817 Open) which I may do in due course. I could even put it towards an M.Ed (Masters degree in Education) for which I also need the compulsory 60 point module Educational Enquiry which next registers a year from now. 

From E-Learning V

Fig.2 The forgetting curve

Confidence to call myself a 'Master' and belief by others that I know my subject led me to being asked to join the Open University advisory panel on the MAODE and in the same week to join the board of advisors for a national educational body that recently met. Now I feel I have enough of 'the knowledge' at my fingertips. I prepared for this first meeting my searching through this blog: it shouldn't surprise me to know how much I'd forgotten, studying why and how we forget is very much a part of education - it is summed up in the Forgetting Curve (fig.2) that Hermann Ebbinghaus thought up over a hundred years ago. 

From E-Learning V

Fig.3. SatNav (not me)

It intrigues me that no gadget we own can circumvent this: that in fact, take a SatNav for example, let's assume that it takes you on a journey in the correct direction. Let's say you keep using the SatNav regardless. You could probably turn it off after two or three of these trips as your brain lays down the landmarks in your longterm memory. Thinking of which, I think the SatNav makes an excellent model for e-learning; just image you need to learn 120 absolute facts as a junior doctor - you could have your SatNav 'peg' the facts to specific points of a familiar journey. When you sit the exam it's then as easy as driving this route in your mind's eye visualisation everyone of the facts along the way.

I wander, cloud like.

I'm writing up my notes from this national advisory panel and over the next four years can hopefully nod at the courses that appear on which I've had some influence. Still not there yet, but I'm one heck of a long way further on since February 2010 when I re-booted this malarkey.

The answer has to be a P.hD. And I guess the only place to do that would be with the Open University. I went off the boil on that one a year ago, though I did secure a couple of interviews but came away suitably crushed.

It will have taken by then, at least ten years, more like 12 or 13, to call myself a 'Digital Scholar'.

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What have I learnt? What do I need to reminding of? The blog review

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 21 Oct 2014, 07:08

This is the value of a comprehensive blog such as this - for its author at least.

My thoughts went into these posts. By going back through the content I can be reminded of the lessons I was learning or struggling with at the time.

It would help were I more strategic in my approach to learning - but that's not me. I like to dwell and drift. I don't know what matters so like to have it all at my fingertips.

Going through the eight OU modules I have completed is taking between one and three hours clicking through posts here. I can tap into TMAs and EMAs and feedback, much of which I have here too (on the private setting). It is revealing in two respects: how much I have covered and can now say that I know - I can speak 'E-learning' fluently; and how many links and references that I jotted down and have never gone back to - great apps, insightful papers, and moments of clarity.

To cover myself for a decade hence by which time this blog will have been wiped, I am copying, selectively, about 40% of the content of this blog into my external blog My Mind Bursts.  (tagged MMB here)

Having the MAODE is one thing. Calling myself and being a 'Master' of the subject needs to be the next step. Martin Weller believes it will take a person ten years to become a 'digital scholar' - I've got another five years to go then. 

Onwards

 

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Timeline tool in 2D and 3D

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 29 Oct 2014, 14:28
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. Kent & Medway's Timeline of the Great War

Made with Tiki-toki

And someone's wonderful creation

FAQs

 

 

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The value to you of keeping a diary or learning journal

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 29 Oct 2014, 14:32
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. March 1975 ....

I kept a diary for twenty years: age 13 1/2 to my forties ... with a few months off from decade to decade. It is self-indulgent navel gazing to look back at its contents which I do extremely rarely. An indulgent scrapbook thing covering a teen exchange to France is fun; did a Mars Bar really once cost 3p !! And a photo journal of a five month gap year job working my arse off in a hotel in France too. And have a vibrant record of children from birth to walking and talking too. 

From E-Learning V

Fig.2. A reading list from 1978

It always amazes me should I stumble upon an old school text book or any of the above as my mind is instantly taken back and I am flooded with boyish ideas.

This blog is something else.

This is a Learning Journal and Portfolio and I've kept it since February 2010. Just about all a module's activities go in here (40% hidden). I know where to find stuff because I've tagged it all. Needing to assess how far I have come, and what themes I can see, what I know and can apply from the seven MAODE modules I have completed - five completed the MAODE, the following two could go towards a M.Ed or MSc.

It is fulfilling in itself as an aide memoire to be reminded of how much I have covered, what therefore I should know, how I learn this and in the context of the changing technology how rapidly things are moving. Learning is evolving fast and in due course we'll look back at what has happened and compare it to how we no buy books online, how we book holidays online, and how we communicate with each other. 

From E-Learning V

Fig.3. The wonders of FutureLearn

At the minute e-learning is like a firework that has just exploded; we are watching it in awe. At some moment a thousand fireballs will light up the clouds and we'll take in the whole picture and conclude that things have changed forever.

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Facts in an essays are like pepper in soup

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 29 Oct 2014, 14:23
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. Facts in an essays are like pepper in soup

How do you compare and mark a variety of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)?

We need to treat them like one of those challenges they do on Top Gear, where Jeremy Clarkson - ‎Richard Hammond - ‎James May set off to Lapland in a Reliant Robin or some such and then get marks across six or so criteria. Hardly scientific, but it splits the pack.

So, let's say we take THREE MOOCs, what criteria should there be? 

  • Commitment. What percentage of participants signing up complete the course?
  • Comments. I use the word 'vibrancy' to judge the amount and nature of activity in the MOOC, so this is crudely reduced to the number of comments left. 
  • Likes. Another form of vibrancy where comments left by the team and by participants are 'liked'. It has to be a measure of participation, engagement and even enjoyment
  • Correct answers. Assuming, without any means to verify this, that participants don't cheat, when tested are they getting the answers right. This is tricky as there ought to be a before and after test. Tricky to as how one is tested should relate directly to how one is taught. However, few MOOCs if any are designed as rote learning. 

You could still end up, potentially, comparing a leaflet with an Encyclopaedia. Or as the Senior Tutor on something I have been on, a rhinoceros with a giraffe.

It helps to know your audience and play to a niche.

It helps to concentrate on the quality of content too, rather than more obviously pushing your faculty and university. Enthusiasm, desire to impart and share knowledge, wit, intelligence ... And followers with many points of view, ideally from around the globe I've found as this will 'keep the kettle bowling'. There is never a quiet moment, is there?

I did badly on a quiz in a FutureLearn Free Online Course (FOC). World War 1. Paris 1919. A new world order ... 

I think I got half right. I chose not to cheat, not to go back or to do a Google search; what's the point in that. I haven't taken notes. I wanted to get a handle on how much is going in ... or not. Actually, in this context, the quiz isn't surely a test of what has been learnt, but a bit of fun. Learning facts and dates is, or used to be, what you did in formal education at 15 or 16. This course is about issues and ideas. A 'test' therefore, would be to respond to an essay title. And the only way to grade that, which I've seen successfully achieved in MOOCs, is for us lot to mark each others' work. Just thinking out loud. In this instance the course team, understandably could not, nor did they try, to respond to some 7,000 comments. They could never read, assess, grade and give feedback to a thousand 4,000 word essays. Unless, as I have experienced, you pay a fee. I did a MOOC with Oxford Brookes and paid a fee, achieved a distinction and have a certificate on 'First Steps in Teaching in Higher Education'.

As facts are like pins that secure larger chunks of knowledge I ought to study such a FutureLearn FOC with a notepad; just a few notes on salient facts would help so that's what I'll do next week and see how I get on. Not slavishly. I'll use a pack of old envelopes or some such smile For facts to stick, rather than ideas to develop, the platform would have needed to have had a lot of repetition built into it. Facts in an essays are like pepper in soup.

Armed with an entire module on research techniques for studying e-learning - H809: Practice-based research in educational technology - I ought to be able to go about this in a more academic, and less flippant fashion. 

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Views and reviews

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 20 Oct 2014, 08:31

'I've hit 10,000 hits in my OU blog, which translates as 1000 per month'. I wrote here on 11 December 2010.

I'd been posting for 11 months.

For the last 18 months its been fairly consistent at 1,000 views a day.

With one aberration of 5,000. Did someone, or several people download the entire blog or some such? Or was it the product of the OU re-booting the platform? Often there is a 'machine' answer to these things. 'Pingbacks' produce 'views' but no one at all may have viewed the content as this is a link from content from anywhere in these 2,000+ pages to someone else's blog, here or anywhere on the Internet. 

Who knows. I don't. I just write the stuff. 

It'll pass the 1,000,000 views mark in mid-March 2015.

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What's in a word?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 29 Oct 2014, 14:35
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. What is a tutorial?

In my decade+ using these platforms (I first attempted a module of the Open & Distance Learning MA in 2000/2001)we've gone from 'computer-based learning' and 'web-based learning' to 'online learning' and 'e-learning' or 'eLearning'. 'MOOC' (Massive Open Online Course' is a dreadful term so 'Free Online Course' must surely be better?

It'll pan out over the years.

I have come to like 'hang-outs' (a term coined by Google) as an informal online gathering. A lecture online, is by default something akin to a 'TED lecture' surely? Webinars are a reasonable catch-all and perhaps what becomes of an OU Live moderated sessions?

Regarding tutorials, though traditionally small groups, a tutor and one or two, maybe three students for an hour - it is these asynchronous conversations that match this where the role of 'tutor' is taken by the educators, but also by well-informed contributors - this can happen here. The learning effect is, I would say the same, or very similar. You offer thoughts, these are challenged, or people agree and add or amend them and in this way you 'construct' meaning. Constructivism is one of the older 'learning theories', whereas 'connectivism' is very much a product of learning like this. 

These is called a blog platform, yet it has affordance of what used to be called a 'Bulletin Board' (I did one of these with the OU in 2001. Think text messages strung together in a kind of Excel spreadsheet). A blog, for my money, has a modicum of independence of design, tools and sharing. Go see WordPress. I wouldn't change much here though. I cherish the new things I learn from people on totally different courses, the company and support that I know is here too.

 

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Language learning with augmented reality

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 29 Oct 2014, 14:38
From E-Learning V

Ce que je voudrais utiliser est la ‘réalité augmentée’. Soit à l'aide de quelque chose comme ‘Google Glass,’ le mot pour quelque chose en français pourrait se superposer automatiquement sur tout ce qu'on regard.

From E-Learning V
From H818 EMA

Ou, quelque chose qu'on peut faire aujourd'hui serait de mettre un QR Code sur les objets autour de la maison et quand on prend un « téléphone intelligent » comme un iPhone, on verrait le mot en français devant le QR code.

From E-Learning V

Mais, pour l'instant on pourrait utiliser quelque chose comme Rosetta Stone. On est se montré des objets quotidiens et il faut qu'on les nomme jusqu'à ce qu'on peut la faire correctement toujours. Cool smile

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Why some online learning works better than others

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 17 Oct 2014, 14:43
From E-Learning V

Fig.1 This is what a reading list looks like - too much of a good thing makes it a bad thing

I 'do' e-learning for two reasons:

  • love of a subject, or a desire to fill holes or build mountains in my knowledge
  • fascination in e-learning: what works and what does not.

FutureLearn is a magic platform

I love it's simplicity, clarity and intuitiveness. In the right hands it's the perfect cup of coffee. (and once a day takes about as long to consume)

Classy copy

The considered, edited and crafted content doesn't dick about: it is a brief talk, or walk and talk BBC documentary style opening (video), followed by a a dozen paragraphs of a succinct piece of required reading that is then opened to the 'floor'.

'Connectedness' is enabled

The threaded discussion looks more like this bulletin-board cum blog cum student forum. Perhaps, as this has developed over the last decade, is where the idea came from? As a bulletin-board each time you comment your thoughts are placed on the top of the pile: someone has to read it when they log in, or at least there's a  greater chance of that.

This connectedness is facilitated and encouraged further by alerts you get as others comment in a thread you've contributed to or started. 

Your contributions are sorted for you and so build, without you needing to do so yourself, into a threaded line of thought - you can see how you are learning, how your knowledge improves and your ideas develop.

There are parameters

There is a word count for each posting. 1200 characters I think and a time frame during which you can edit (15 minutes). 

There is a modicum of overload

We, as students, are the masters of the time we have, or want to give to a thing. We are also the ones who know and control the pace. It is too simple to say that some people read faster than others, so can consume more. We approach text in very different ways. What is crucial and done in the FutureLearn module I'm doing on the 1919 First World War Paris Treaty is the amount of reading offered. It is more than enough, but not overwhelming. It takes itself and its students seriously by saying that 'we think you can read all of this and contribute to the discussions in the time allocated - five hours a week'.

Module teams get it wrong when content is sparse or when they overload the student with that laziest of get-outs 'the reading list'. Getting it right requires effort, confidence in the subject you are teaching and a belief and understanding of the way people learn and the platforms and tools now available and how their evolving use impacts on learning. I'm doing a couple of FutureLearn modules: 'Writing Applications' at two hours a week, compares to World War 1: Paris 1919 at five hours a week. The contrast couldn't be greater. 

It's like the first offers you a small cup of coffee: no refills. Instant. You get it with milk whether you like it or not. While the second gives you a rich cup of coffee and, if you want them, a couple of refills. No more. There are parameters. 

FutureLearn keeps it simple

What matters are the words people type. There are none of the mess of unnecessary buttons provided here. Honestly. Keep it simple OU. They just muddle things massively. Where used they invariably take away from the ability to communicate. It is enough of a challenge to type on a QWERTY keyboard. Plain text does the job. In the hands of the amateur (all of us), being able to add colour, change font size and a whole lot more serves no useful purpose. 

Content is self-moderated by the group

A simple alert button allows you to flag something to let moderators know that something inappropriate is going on: hateful language, foul language, 'drunken' rants ... 

Go see

'There's something for everyone'.

 

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Popplets

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 29 Oct 2014, 14:40
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. My stab at a popplet.

I added some orange hair. Themed for the 5th of November as this is how I look on the streets of Lewes at this time of year. 

As kids we had a word that sounds very like this ... 'plopplets'. We had a variety of words for poo. 

With thanks to Veronique Masse Du Bois who is using Popplets as part of H818. By sharing and me picking up on it she's achieved some outcome for H818: The Networked Practitioner if I recall having it done this module of the MA ODE last year. 

A sucker for trying out anything new and visual I have downloaded Popplets onto an iPad and will now proceed to mangle the French language, at least the grammar I've supposedly learnt these last two weeks. And illustrate it too. 

Other cool idea organisation Apps I've used:

 

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L'éducation en ligne

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 16 Oct 2014, 04:58

Je ne sais pas ce qu’ils sont les mots techniques en français pour ‘learning online’ or for ‘e-learning’, c'est peut-être <<l'éducation en ligne>> ?  Il faut que je suivre un cours en français, produit par les Français pour ça. Mon expérience avec ce genre de groupe de discussion <<en ligne>>  (étudiant OU plus de quatre ans) est que la participation active est rare, sauf que les <<modérateurs>> eux mêmes, commençant la conversation - comme une hôtesse.

C’est intéressant que dans un cours FutureLearn que je fais <<La Première Guerre Mondiale: Le traité de paix de Versailles 1919>> qu’il y a un certain nombre de contributeurs, délibérément placé, doctorant <<PhD students>> qui sont actifs dans les groupes afin de faire avancer la conversation. On a toujours besion d’un instigateur/instigatrice, dans ce cas il faut que ça est nous.  

Alors, après tout ça, a mon avis, si l'on voudrait pratiquer votre français, il faut aller où la conversation est, comme ici dans un blog. <<blog>>? Que disent-ils en France?

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MOOCs R OK

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'If you're not lost and confused in a MOOC you are probably doing something wrong.' Wrote Martin Weller 18 months ago (25th March 2013)

A MOOC is a 'Massive Open Online Course'.

Rubbish name I know. Free Online Learning for the masses might sound better. 

It's no longer the case. The FutureLearn MOOCs couldn't be more straightforward. If 'you' the student are lost then the course team and instructional designer in particular haven't done their job.

It's all about communication: clarity, consistency and simplicity. It's about being connected, engaged and inspired. It's about your curiosity being satisfied.

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My thoughts on a FutureLearn MOOC on the Treaty of Versailles that tried to conclude the First World War

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 22 Oct 2014, 09:24
From E-Learning V

 Fig.1. World War One: Paris 1991. A New World ...

The content here, how produced, presented and managed by FutureLearn is the perfect catalyst for a diversity of contributors. As interested in the strengths and weaknesses of the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) as a platform, this from FutureLearn is showing the value of many connected minds coming together and feeding of each other. It strikes me that as people group around a line of thought, with the educators and contributors, the kernel of a tutorial forms: ideas are offered, shared, adjusted, politely corrected, fed, developed and consolidated.

From E-Learning V

Fig.2. The clean design style of Dorling-Kindersley

It intrigues me to understand what the formula for success is here: the simplicity and intuitive nature of the FutureLearn platform; a clarity that in multi-media terms reminds me of those Dorling-Kindersley books; the quality of the ideas professionally, creatively and unpretentiously presented ... and a topic that has caught the Zeitgeist of the centenary commemorations of the First World War and its consequences rather than the chronology of the battles and the minutiae of military tactics.

For someone who has studied seven of the eight or nine Master of Arts: Open and Distance Education (MA ODE) modules my continued interest in e-learning is diverse; it includes however not the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) per se, but rather ways to escape the technology in order to recreate or enable the qualities that come from the 'Oxbridge Tutorial'.

From Drop Box

Fig.3. An Oxbridge Tutorial (1960s)

I am specific here because these tutorials are not seminars, webinars or lectures, an 'Oxbridge Tutorial' is typically either one-to-one, the 'great mind', the 'subject matter expert' and his or her student or 'acolyte' or one to two or three. The standard pattern of these is for the students deliver a short essay, around 2000 words, on a single topic from a reading list. In theory all the participants write an essay but only one reads his or her essay out that everyone then discusses. The tutorial lasts an hour. You have one a week ... per topic. Some tutors, the natural and committed educators extend these tutorials into informal settings, picking up the conversation at meals and in other settings.

From E-Learning V

Fig.4. Learning from others: an exchange of ideas

You cannot simply transpose this kind of 'tutorial' to the Internet in the commercial sense as the educator hasn't the time to give, repeatedly, an hour of time to just one, or two or three students. This is not the model that can support the educational desires of the 5 million in the world who crave a university place. Certainly, these students need peace, a roof over their heads, food and political stability and of course the infrastructure and means to own and operate a device that can get them online ... a tall enough order, but smart phones could be as cheap as £10 within ten years ... but then, it will be through the kind of connectedness between students, moderated and catalysed by the experts that this 'tutor-like' learning experience can be created.

I see it in this MOOC. I have seen it with a variety of activities in OU modules. 

From E-Learning V

Fig.5. My takes on 'Connectivism' as a burgeoning theory of learning 

'Connectedness' is a learning theory developed and espoused by George Siemens.

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Multi-quiz Langue Française

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 29 Oct 2014, 14:44
From E-Learning V

 Fig.1. Un chasseur sachant : a tongue-twister in French

I just stumbledupon this fun, fun, fun way to pick up some fresh French vocabulary AND with some exceedingly difficult tongue twisters to take your mouth to the gym - very necessary if you are to pronounce much correctly in French. After three minutes of these you'll feel as if you've been chewing the entire packet of ten sticks of Wrigleys' Spearmint Gum simultaneously. 

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Jaw dropping, game changing technology

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The last twenty years have been as transitionary for us with computers, digitization and mobile technologies as for our grandparents and great-grandparents a hundred years ago.

Last night my teenage daughter, her boyfriend and my son were in fits of laughter about something in the kitchen. They were watching a 'vine' (a six second looped video) on YouTube. I was caught up in an episode of 'Masters of Sex' (great narrative, naughty ... and educational) when my son came over. I expected him to show me the video playing on his iPhone instead a tap and a swipe and the screen on the smart TV changed and showed the clip.

Having my TV interrupted didn't bother me and the clip was silly enough, what caught my imagination is that so much that last week was, I thought, 'science-fiction' is now 'science-fact'.

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Yes, No

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 11 Oct 2014, 07:57
From E-Learning V

 

“OUI” and “NON” A Typographical Sculpture by Markus Raetz, 2001

 

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On the dangers of getting lost or stuck down a rabbit hole

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 10 Oct 2014, 10:12
From E-Learning V

Fig.1 Alice in a hole

This thought, in relation to researching and writing an essay came from retired squadron-leader, prof. Peter Gray. I am often stuck down a rabbit hole; I indulge my curiosity and quickly get lost. It took me half an hour to scramble over images of 'stuck down a rabbit hole' mostly involving small dogs or variations on Alice in Wonderland and randomly including weird artworks and images of vertigo or claustrophobia before I decided to go with the above. 

From E-Learning V

Fig.2. Types of moustache

This morning I have now been up for four hours and haven't quite completed two hours 'writing'; the rest of the time has been spent trying to find the right kind of beards and moustaches to put on a set of five male characters, ages between 17 and 60, in northern France in 1917. Seeing the respective beards on three of them, the other two are clean-shaven, is just the start. I then have to name and describe them in terms that are appropriate to the era. I can't talk of beard types as a George Michael, Magnum or even Hitler. They have to be described with metaphors and words that would have been prevalent in the press at the time.

From E-Learning V

Fig. 3. Robert Twigger as Richard Francis Burton

I get thrown by spotting someone I know, then move onto how to describe parts of the outer ear and stumbleupon some fascinating fact about miniature portraits made of officers of the First World War as a keepsake. My searches are still prioritising French, so a few words or phrases might be entering the brain regarding Napoleon III beards and the like.

My curiosity indulged I check the word count for this morning's efforts and I might come to 60 words added to yesterday's tally; on the other hand, when I next need to describe a person sporting facial hair I ought to be able to do so rather more quickly. 

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Doing it in French

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From 2BlogI

Fig.1 Google's gone French

I'm sure the algorithm's used by Google split languages so that by when I state my primary language is French everything changes. For a start, the pool of pages that are searched prioritise those written in French. This must surely define my search 'universe' in an explicit way. The impression I have, a refreshing one, is that I am being offered different search results. 

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Without tagging this is your blog

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 29 Oct 2014, 14:53
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. The contents of your learning journal, or e-portfolio or blog could look like this

As I'm prompted to do so, or is this just a MAC thing? I now tag documents downloaded to my desktop. They can be found wherever I or the operating system has buried them.

I tag religiously here (except, since a month ago, when writing from my iPad as it crashes the page and the iPad ?!).

I tag for a number of reasons:

I jot down ideas and thoughts, facts, even grab, cut and paste stuff that may be of use later so tag it so that I can tickle it out later as the mood or need fancies.

By tagging by module, and by activity you can then regularly go back and add a further tag as you plan a TMA (tutor marked assignment) or EMA (end of module assignment). For example, L120 is my current module. I will (or should) add L120A1 perhaps or L120S1 to identify an activity or session (NOT necessarily shared at all if I am giving away answers potentially or breaching copyright too blatantly by privately 'curating' content). Potentially L120TMA1 obviously helps me pull out content pertinent to this. That's the idea anyhow. The OU used to have an e-portfolio called MyStuff, a bit clunky, but it did this and then allowed you to re-shuffled the deck as it were, to give order to the things you picked. In theory you then have a running order for an assignment.

Tag clouds, number of tags or simply the weight and size of the font, indicates the strength and frequency of certain themes and ideas. When playing with the idea of an 'A-to-Z of e-learning' it was easier for me to see, under each letter, what I ought to select ... and then immediately have a load of examples, some academic, some anecdotal, all personal to me, at hand.

I come here to find things I've lost! Amongst 20,000 saved images I know I have a set from early training as a Games Volunteer for the London Olympics. I searched here, clicked on the image and thus found the album in Picasa Web (now Google Pics). Why can't I do that in my picture/photo pages? Because I never tagged the stuff. There is no reliable search based on a visual - yet.

No one can or should do this for you.

My blog and e-portfolio is fundamentally and absolutely of greatest value to me alone. So why allow or encourage others to rummage in the cupboards of my brain? Because it tickles and stimulates me to share views, find common or opposing views and to believe that others are getting something from it.

 

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Immersed in French

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From E-Learning V

Fig.1. My computer is doing everything in French

Google now offers me search results in both English and French. Clicking on Wikipedia offered me the choice of selecting results that are only in French; I did this, with some trepidation as the change in what it offers as a result. Perhaps the unpredictability of it will do more good than harm. All the little instructions you get to surf the web are also in French now. At a glance you can see that generally a single word in English becomes a multi-syllable in French, or a phrase. I'll also find that in France the default would be the English anyway. I remember how, working in TV, no one said 'magnetescope' instead of 'video', for example. 

I'm now forced to read in French and consequently obliged frequently to look up a word or a grammatical construction.

From E-Learning V

Fig.2. Google Translate

I turn to Google Translate by default. I'd have this open and live on a Smart Watch if I could. With an earpiece giving me the word or phrase in whichever language I required. On its way?

In an instant, at the point of need, I have what I hazzard is an accurate translation; I'm talking about a single word, or a short phrase. Any doubt and I play around with the English translation then see how Google gives me that in French then call on buried memory banks to tell me if that sounds right.

'Le dos' is NOT how to describe the back of a house, for example.

So, I'm getting what I wished for. Will this however translate into a renewed confidence to both speak and write the language?

That's the plan.

Trouble with Java and OU Live

The L120 Student Forum on problems with JAVA now runs to over 45 responses. I don't need to tear my hair out, I can feel it curling up and dying in horror at the thought of having to sort out why my MAC and or Google Chrome are incompatible with JAVA because of the OS 7 operating system. My hope is that I can jump ship and use my wife or son's PC. I do not fancy having to delete OS 7 and reactivate OS 6, then use Safari, still to find that I cannot do the interactive exercises in Session 1, or take part in an OU Live session.

Keeping my learning French from my wife will prove trickier if I am at her computer speaking in French checking my pronounciation. I'm unsure my teenage son will want me anywhere near his computer: I'll ask.

From E-Learning V

Fig.3. Rosetta Stone. Brilliant for fixing pronunciation and accents

Or I skip those bits. I've had a year using Rosetta Stone which has a considerable amount of accent and pronunciation software. 

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L120: Session 1 - Activité 1

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 6 Oct 2014, 07:56
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. L120. Ouverture. Intermediate French

Revelations and reflection. Activité 1

Whilst my comprehension is 90% correct the mistakes I make could be and were/are a significant problem if or when working in France. I get dates like 1936, but can too easily mistake 17h00 for 19:00 i.e. 'dix sept heure' is NOT seven O'clock of course, but by the 24 hour clock it is 7. I'm also lazy: I chance my response where I could have listened a second time and got something correct. 

It is far too easy, when only listening, to make up a meaning for a new word and therefore make major mistakes.

Translating, as if literally to English is a huge mistake. A couple of examples include the use of the word 'profiter' in French which as nothing to do with 'making a profit', but rather, a nuanced English use, 'to take advantage of ...' in this instance, the sun and sea on a holiday by the coast in the summer. 

From E-Learning V

Fig.2. Learning where, what and why 'Pondichéry' is. A bit of history and geography with L120

Lack of adequate understanding of how France has retained some of its tiniest colonies around the globe as 'French departments' had me wondering why an indian looking gentleman could possibly come from a small island in the south atlantic, actually he was taking about the south of india. And I neither knew where, nor can I still pronounce this one:

From E-Learning V

Fig.3. La Ciotat

It would be brilliant if when listening to a French person you could have their words as subtitles ... maybe this is a trick that Google glass will deliver in due course. Not a translation, but the words as text to help with comprehension until you can hear and see for yourself the words that are being used without making it up or guessing. 

I jotted down a few linking phrases, those fillers too that we use that add colour and credibility to any spoken language:

  • car
  • bonne
  • ailliers
  • plutôt 
  • ça depends

Checking the spelling was vital too, and not just figuring out how to get the French accents on the QWERTY keyboard but doing so. I had 'ailleurs' as 'yiers' or some such. 

And also a few terms and phrases that I liked, possibly because of the English derivations or equivalents and will use:

  • le rush d'été
  • tourisme en masse
  • idéale

Pronounce a word like 'idéale' correctly and you can fool them that you are French ... you can even take French words we use in English and add a French accent, though saying 'amelioration' is equally pretentious in both languages. Many French people when speaking English will trip on the word 'Idea' and pronounce it 'Idéa' even if they've lived here for decades; who'd correct them though?

A few hours into L120 and of course I crave to be back in France

I must also reflect on the learning design and platform. I've done a year of Rosetta Stone - the ultimate 'gamified' language learning platform. L120 does, understandably, feel more like being back at school. But that's what I need; it shouldn't be easy to learn anything, or how else can you learn? Rosetta Stone becomes very repetitive. You learn through tireless repetition, through immersion and ultimately by default. You won't ever be able to say why a thing is done one way or another, just that it is ... that it sounds or feels right. i.e. how an infant learns a language.

As a adult learner I think we need to be told why a thing is too i.e. have a variety of ways, even if it takes a few moments to think about it, to get something right.

A very, very different way to learn that taking a humanities module, but also exploiting many e-learning tools and methodologies in a different way. I have to wonder how such practices could translate into other subjects, that learning some things 'parrot fashion' could be beneficial whether learning history, geography or medicine: that you have to have the accurate facts and figure in your brain before you can use these facts. 

On verra.

Why blog this?

There are a number of ways to look at this: the value to me, and as I perceive it the value to others ... playing the game and my belief and understanding of how learning online in a 'connected' world works.

The value to me: as a learning journal. A record, tagged liked this, is a fabulous aide memoir. I could and nearly did do this on paper, but these get lost. I couldn't find a new exercise book anyway.

The value to others: the spirit of learning in the OU community, particularly in the student forums for your own module, is to share your thinking in order to stimulate and engage in an asynchronous conversation: had I been on a residential course much of the above would have come out over coffees and meals.

So why blog 'to the world', and in my case copy this or some if it, in due course to my external blog 'my mind bursts'?

Pride in the Open University is part of it. Why not plug something I love and would recommend to others?

Comments and contact: The stats say and I know that comments form a tiny fraction of viewers to a page, perhaps as low as 1%. Just this 1% I find of huge value; by finding a common interest, often beyond the confines of the module and this intake of students, I find the information begins to embed in my longterm memory. I know no other way of doing it as my brain is my sieve than sponge - everything gets filtered out and transformed unless I engage with it in a variety of ways.

And I am as interest in the e-learning and learning design of a module as I am in the content that I wish to learn. I have those interested in e-learning too to share with. 

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