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

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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

 

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Charting Progress to 'Write a Novel in a Month'

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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. 

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There's a word for everything

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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.

 

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How have things changed?

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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. 

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

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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. 

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Putin rides into Lewes on a tank

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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. 

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Future Learn WW1 Aviation

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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!

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The Power of Persuasion

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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

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The power of Open Learning

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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.

 

 

 

 

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FutureLearn

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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. 

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Write a novel in a month or get tips over three

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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

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L120: Reflection - Four Weeks in

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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!

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Gouvernes d'un avion

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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

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L120 Unité 1.5.4B - Rèvision

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 4 Dec 2014, 07:45

Préparez des notes pour faire une petite présentation de deux minutes environ dans laquelle vous allez parler de vos dernières vacances et de vos projets pour vos prochaines vacances.

From Sailing

Fig.1. Essayant de faire la planche à voile quand j'avait dix huits ans.

Cette année était unique parce que j'ètais trois fois en France, j'ai eu une marriage famille, ma niéce, à Santorini en Grece et enfin je suis allée en Espagne pour faire la voile entre Gibraltar et Barcelona avec un ami. Les trois semaines en France j'étais aux La Plagne, une station du ski dans la Tarentaise. À Santorini j'ais pris cinq cents photos au tour de cette isle volcanique extraordinaire. En Espagne c'était une éspece du travail avec six jours de faire 650 nm, faisant la voile toutes la nuit sans reste. C'était magique quand on avait eu le dolphins qui nous suivre

L'année prochaine je vais sûrement rester chez moi parce que j'ai pas de monnaie, mais si c'est jamais possible je voudrais bien passez une semaine dans les Alpes avec ma femme pour sa cinquantieme anniversaire et puis l'éte au bord de la mer à Archachon qui est sud de Biarritz ou on pourrait faire la voile sur le lac et faire le surfe et on pourrait se baigne à la plage 90km.

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Who gets my things after I've taken my life?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 29 Oct 2014, 14:06
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. FutureLearn Start Writing Fiction

As a Master of Arts: Open and Distance Education I will give all kinds of things a go. I've done a few FutureLearn MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). This eight week course on writing fiction from the OU looks like being one of the biggest; the OU pedigree also shows - the thinking and 'broadcast quality' of the video pieces shows compared to material put up by some universities.

Activities, activities, activities I remember someone saying from the OU when it came to designing learning online. This course is a little bit of telling, a bit of doing, that a lot of sharing. You can be thinking up a comment and before you post there can be five or six posts 'land' ahead of you. There are 1000+ responses to a thread. To some this is daunting. To those not used to these environments it may be off-putting. When you get used to it its fine, like going to a huge nightclub in London that's on several floors rather than a mate's part in their front lounge.

In this exercise we watched a clip of a dozen folk going about the daily business; all had feature in the opening piece about writing, so most are 'at it' pen on paper, into the laptop or onto an iPad. We are invited to take a person or moment and invent a story from it. I had never consciously done this before and was delighted with the effect, not trying to figure out what people really are doing, but rather inventing something for them.

From E-Learning V

Fig. 2. From an activity in 'Start Writing Fiction' from FutureLearn

I have a young woman innocently keeping a 'writer's journal' who I decide is writing suicide notes to five or six people; she puts a key from the bunch in each envelope, posts off the letters then kills herself. A bit morbid. I suppose I should now figure out why, and reveal what is behind each key.

Go see.

FutureLearn Start Writing Fiction

See also how a shared, threaded forum such as this can be used to create a vibrant asynchronous conversation with several hundred, even thousands of people. Several things FutureLearn do which would work well here: word count limited to 1200 characters, 16 minutes timed out having posted to edit - then its done. A 'like' button and an easy way to keep abreast of comments left in a discussion you have started or joined without having to try to find it.

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Areas of the brain triggered by difference senses

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 29 Oct 2014, 09:28
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. Wellcome Foundation

Should anyone suggest to you that you are left or right brained then go to the Wellcome Foundation and look at this extraordinary artwork: 3d expressions of the parts of the brain triggered when a person smells different things.

Learning is the same.

Whilst drawing upon or from increasingly recognised common parts of the brain, the brain, in using and creating memories taps into multiple and diverse areas - some of them unique to the person. I smell mothballs I immediately recall 'sleeping over' as a boy at my granny's house.

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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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