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Design Museum

Don't make it easy

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 2 Aug 2014, 11:58

Fig. 1 Some ideas from the Ivan Chermayeff 'Cut and Paste' exhibition at the De La Warr, Bexhill

As photography isn't allowed instead of moving from the gallery with my iPhone or camera clicking at everything and anything that caught my eye I was obliged to get out a sketch pad. Just as Ivan Chermayeff says in a exhibition video 'most people don't know how to see'. 

We risk making everything too easy with e-learning: photos, screengrabs, instant research, transcripts of video, video as audio only or highlights or summaries thanks to others.

The above ideas were for:

a) A School of Visual Arts talk he was giving with a colleague

b) Arthritis - with letters torn from a type font catalogue and jumbled around

c) Mother and Child in modern art - a signal Margritte or Matisse like cut out.

What I would have missed entirely, and I do it no justice here, is a collage of tickets and seating allocation to the inauguration of John F Kennedy on the 20th January 1961. (Before my time, I'd been conceived a few weeks before at a New Year's Eve party. Not even I can remember that far back).

 

Fig.2 Sketch of an Ivan Chermayeff collage/poster using bits and pieces from attendance at the inaugurations of US President J F Kennedy

 

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Pen and ink drawing class

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 2 Aug 2014, 11:44

 

Fig.1 Chair and shade

It was like being back at school: though the ratio of 15 women to 3 men felt like I'd gatecrashed the girl school's class down the road; I was educated in all male schools from 4 to 19. Of the 15 two were under 20, two were under 30 and the others above 60 and 70. No difference. Just like school. I recognised this swimming with Masters that given any opportunity to be the child that we were we are.

My relationship with art is an odd one: a mother who taught art, had an MA from Durham University in Fine Art, but who discounted at as a career for any of her children. I took it as far as A'levels (under her tutelage).

In 90 minutes we has some history, so thoughts on kit, then we got on with it. I found a secluded spot in the central courtyard (Jerwood Gallery, Hastings). And picked first on the climbing plants on a wall, and then the chair I'd taken out of the class. My challenge was to look at different ways of adding shade. Eventually I found that changing from pen to cotton balls and ink would differentiate between the object and the shadow. This'll take further work.

Other learning opportunities over the last few days have included:

Power Boat II (Refresher)

It is eight or more years since I did the course and seven years since I've been in a power boat. A bit of it came back. And new stuff was added. I need this so that I can operate a 'rib' during 'racing week' at the local sailing club: laying the course, keeping an eye on the fleet to rescue and assist. The sea can be choppy, the winds strong. Dinghies go over and their mast can pin them to the shallow sand and grit of Seaford Bay.

How to train a pigeon

In her wisdom my daughter has rescued a pigeon with a broken wing. The RSPB and animal sanctuaries aren't interest. 'Ralph' is now accommodated in a garden shed; shits everywhere but is eating from my daughter's hand. Muggins will be looking after it shortly of course. The volume of pebble-dash shit is impressive as every shit is onto a fresh patch of shed floor - it will be one shit deep, like a carpet by the weekend.

Graphic Design

The exhibition on the designer Ivan Chermeoff at the De La Warr is so good I've been back three times. There is no book on this exhibition, though many of his books are nailed to a table to admire (the page it has been opened at), with a few books you can browse. There is an insightful video too - an interview with the designer talking about how he got into fine art and graphic design from an inspiration father. One of the things he talks about is 'learning to see'. Had photography not been banned I would not have got out a pad of paper and looked more closely at his collages. Had I not taken such a close look I wouldn't have seen, with magical surprise, that one was made from ephemera collected at the inauguration of JFKennedy as US President on January 20 1961. 

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"They ran over to say 'hello'"

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 2 Aug 2014, 11:59

Fig.1 Dolphins 'running over to say hi'

My daughter laughed at how I described this but when you haven't got the words and can only think of one other context this is how I described a couple of dolphins coming over to the boat; it was just like a couple of friendly dogs at the park coming over to take a look and have a sniff around. In this case the dolphins stayed with us for nearly half an hour. At other times they were clearly on their way somewhere, swimming with a purpose in a pod or simply came to take a look then swam on.

Fig.2 Off the bow of 'Ximera' - Spanish Coast

A welcome first. As was covering 600 nautical miles in four days. Job done. I recall agreeing to sailing the Atlantic next year so have already started to look at revisiting and improving my skills at sea. Having not been on a boat for at least seven years I was for the first time ever in my life horrendously seasick for the first few hours of this trip. Worse than a hangover? I had a bucket at my side - that bad. I just wished a hand would could out of the sky and lift me back onto dry land.

Armed with a Kindle during the lengthy periods when not much was happening, and during my four hour watch at the helm overnight I read two text books: another on the First World War, this time the 100 days in 1918 that led to the end of war and as the contrast fascinates me, a detailed account of the First Gulf War. 22 years ago my ancient grandfather was watching the events unfold on TV and said to me 'That's Nothing Like Passchendaele'. What's interesting is to do this comparison.

One hundred years on it is worth comparing the causes of the First World War and to dread that events in Eastern Ukraine as indicators of the wrong response to the fragmentation of old empires: one hundred years ago the Ottoman Empire's demise resulted in fractures at its edge - the Balkans and Middle East. Germany, eager to bolster another weakening empire, its ally the Austro-Hungarian Empire, took steps to demonstrate or test its power and influence to destruction. To what degree is Putin testing the strength or weakness of the Russian Federation by the decisions taken first in Syria to support Assad and then in Ukraine to support the pro-Russian separatists?

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Which library?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 21 Jul 2014, 08:49

 

Fig.1. Hastings Library

With too much going on around the house I've decided to dodge all distractions and the sun and head for the library. I am spoilt for choice:

Lewes Library

University of Sussex

'The Keep'

Instead I'm heading off to Hastings as I've heard they have the only book that covers something on the Royal Flying Corps who were based along the south coast in various capacities during the First World War. The shocking read on Shoreham airfield is that by all account one in four of the pilots crashed in training with few of them surviving - just too windy for the flimsy craft.

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mh17

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 20 Jul 2014, 18:49

ww1 100 years ago and we think that Putin's behaviour is to be accommodated? HE is responsible for too much hideous behaviour: Syria yesterday, Ukraine today, Chetchnya the day before. I am starting a campaign to stop the World Cup in Russia in 2018. Our family heritage goes back to this region and stories of repeated oppression. What has changed in 100 years? Nothing. The Western Front now lies on a line between Poland, Ukraine and Istanbul. The danger is how WE mamage the further collapse of 'Russia'. How on earth is he back in power?? How can the Russian constitution allow this? He had his turn.The whole idea of democracry is that you give someone a go then vote them out to give someone else a shot. How and who buggered around with the Russian constitution so much that Putin keeps coming back? Are not then Russian people disgusted by him? Surely he should be hostory by now??

 

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Touch Typing Basics

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 19 Jul 2014, 08:09

Fig. 1. Touch Typing Basics

Thank you Ourania Kuomi for pointing me towards this; I have a few foibles to fix with my touch typing. I also need a larger keyboard.

She's writing a comprehensive blog on her MBA experiences too. Worth a read. 

 

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New blog post

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Have you got yours?

One read through and before I know it I have my beady eye on a couple more Future Learn courses (done two, on two now) while my wife is looking for an OU science module and my duaghter fancies crewtive writing.

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'This is US Warship please turn to Channel 72 for an important announcement'

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 18 Jul 2014, 07:34

Fig.1 Channel 16 - The emergency channel

On the helm overnight I kept an ear out for SOS and other messages on Channel 16. What I got was the most bizarre set of calls and messages:

The US Navy acting on behalf of the United Nations ... the message went on to ask skippers to look out for anything suspicious and to report it. This is 8-12 miles out to sea along the Spanish, Mediterranean coast. 

On my watch I had:

  • a small yacht, all sails up - no lights at all. They shown a torch into their sail as they came close.
  • a cattermarran; no lights on. Lights on as we approached, then all navigation lights on after we passed and motored off into the darkness.
  • a rib, in the dark, someone holding a torch.
  • one legit, correctly lit small yacht
  • various tankers in the distance, the largest a staggering 313m long and 40m wide.

Calls to prayer

Disco Music

General chatter

"Mayday, Mayday" - not in the immediate vicinity but the person couldn't give their chart position

My fertile imagination thought a war had broken out and I could hear shells exploding in Algeria. 

 

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600 Nautical miles in four days (one stop-over)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 16 Jul 2014, 10:25

Fig. 1. Many firsts

First time to log and chart any off-shore trip

First time to have the helm on a four hour night-time shift: just me, the full moon, the occasional visit by dolphins and 'ghost' ships that appeared, off radar, without any night-time navigation lights on.

First time to speak Spanish and be understood - even it was only asking for a one-way ticket at the bus station.

First time plotting a course and keeping the log.

First time sleeping overnight in an airport - the flight out went too early for the trains and taking a taxi negated getting a cheap flight.

First time to see the straights of Gibraltar - staggered by the narrow gap between Europe and Africa.

First time to be seasick: hideous, only lasted a few hours thankfully.

The list goes on of firsts.

Never more than four hours sleep in a row since last Friday.

I read a book cover to cover on the flight out (including departure lounge) 'Close to the Wind' by Jon Waters, someone else who did a university course in creative writing and is now being published. It's taken five years.

First time to use GPS system on a boat that not only plots your exact position, but identifies other boats in the same detail: size, speed across water, destination, bearing and so on. 

Shattered.

 

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Touch nothing!

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 16 Jul 2014, 10:26

Fig.1. A man up a very high mast with an electric screwdriver

Some instructions are very clear. You follow instructions with great care when you've got someone at the end of a rope and harness 25ft up a mast. Safety and hoist, but it can go wrong.

I keep reminding the skipper that it is nearly 20 years since I crewed so my knowledge of ropes is ropey. A little learning is worse than useless; it's dangerous. I need to remember and relearn what is what fast. A few new knots too. No doubt there is a refresher course online. An App for the idiot yachtsmen? Actually, some things, many things require you to be an apprentice, to shadow those who know what they are doing. It matters and helps that they are great, natural educators. When this guy came down he had the softest, clearest approach to pointing out a few things to me. We spoke for an hour on the history of Gibraltar, the regional weather and its nature ... and the smuggling of tobacco and drugs into the port. All over coffee and a lunch I pulled together for us.

This is an office. For a week it's my study too - free wifi from a cafe on the quay. Completing week two of a Future Learn MOOC on 'Starting your own business' and staring week one of a Future Learn on 'Writing a research proposal'. You text home. You Skype a call. And pictures tell their story as you post your route online. 

It's taken a while coming, but surely the technology truly is giving those who can work anywhere to do so? I so love England but I am so fed up with the weather - with chronic asthma and chronic rhinitis I have good reason to come and live on a windy rock. Gibraltar? So odd. Walked over there and stepped into 1970s Whitley Bay meets Newhaven by the Med, meets??? 

About to set off for five days, non-stop. Well, one stop as a German crew member is rather keen to see some sporting event.

The next first will be to helm my shift in the middle of the night. Misplaced trust is not a good way to learn, on the other hand taking responsibility for a thing is a reward in itself. 

 

Touch nothing!

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Please remember to water the tomatoes

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Will this work? I've sent this hint to the family in the hope that I won't come home to a patch of shrivilled plants.

 

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Not a word

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 9 Jul 2014, 10:01

Fig. 1 You turn your head to take in the view and risk getting run over

I came out to Spain on a one way ticket with instructions to get a bus, followed by a four hour cross-country hike. My ignorance of Spanish is so great that before I even go into a toilet I have to keep an eye on whether men or women and coming in and out.

Ask, ask ... ask.

Even if neither of you have much clue what the other is saying. I tried writing out a few phrases, such as 'where can I get the bus too ...' and ended up showing this note to people. I nearly got a bus to La Lina, Grenada ... rather than La Linea, Concepcion. I would have ended up 200 miles in the wrong direction.

In awe as the bus came over the rise of a mountain and in the distance the cliff face of a mountain rising out of low cloud in front of a channel of dark, busy water. I was looking across the straights of Gibraltar. Bus cracked on at speed. I could have sat there for the day. 

Spanish courtesy of Rosetta Stone. This is so good at perfecting pronunciation that one phrase and I get a stream of Spanish back. More useful is one of those 'Spanish Basics'. 

We stepped back into England to watch the Germany Brasil game in a British Pub in Gibraltar. Very odd. What is it with Gibraltar? The curiosity has me again.

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Gobsmacked

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Fig. 1. MarineTracker.com

This blew me away. A service that tracks every vessel at sea. For various levels of monthly subscription the service will do all but helm your tanker, yacht, motorboat across the world's oceans - that is coming.

It isn't quite Google Streets - you can't drill down to live satellite images at sea level. 

Will DVLA track every vehicle on UK roads one day? Why not? All driving offences will become a thing of the past or be prosecuted the moment they are committed. And we take a step further towards the driverless car.

Then tracking people; voluntarily. Why do that? Having a snail-trail database of where you have been. It would be interesting to analyse how, ant-like, we go about our lives. The commute would be seen for the almighty waste of time that it is.

Would it be ethical to microchip your kids? Or a parent with dementia?

And regardless of this what kind of services could be offered to someone whose whereabouts is always tracked? To some considerable degree we allow this and encourage it as soon as we turn on a mobile device? I don't speak a word of Spanish - yet. I'd like through my phone, with an ear piece, to have a one-to-one tutorial as I attempt to cross the country to locate the above yacht when it puts into port in the next couple of days. 'Just in time' language tuition. 

Other things I don't want to look up. 'Tell me about ...' and I am promptly told about the thing I am looking at in a language, and style that suits me ...

Far fetched?

Artificial Intelligence offers a way forward to bring unprecedented levels of personalised learning to millions.

Those with a smart phone and speedy Internet access; so neither inclusive, nor fully accessible or even without cost. So severely limited in that respect as a harbinger of education for the world. 

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Making Memories

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 13 Oct 2014, 08:45

Fig.1. The muddy sides of the River Ouse, Piddinghoe. At low tide.

We are very good at forgetting: it's vital.

We see, feel, sense far too much in our daily lives (which includes when asleep). Come to think of it what on earth was I doing on a student exchange to North America last night where I am twenty years older than my hosts ... (probably sums up how I feel about the workplace).

See. Some memories are made for us, or by us whether or not we want them.

Learning though requires us to gather, create and retain stuff. Some of this stuff is forgettable; it doesn't resonate, or is poorly taught or expressed. Or we simply don't get it the way it is expressed, or the first time around.

Fig.2 Neuroscience of dummies

Make it a memory

At an OU Residential School the session on revision was packed. The tips made us laugh: sucking a choice of Polo Fruit sweets by subject theme - when you come to the exam repeat and each sweet will link you to that period of revision. Odd. But it worked often enough for me to convince me of its value.

 

Fig.4. Ebbinghaus and his 'Forgetting Curve'

The science from the likes of Hermann Ebbinghaus and his 'Forgetting Curve' simply indicates how something fades, unless you go back to it a few times over several days over which period you make it stick. It doesn't say anything about the 'stickiness' of the memory in the first place. Sometimes this stickiness is made for you. There is drama, there is an explosion. Most likely, by chance, the learning is anchored by some unrelated event like the fire alarm going off - that won't work for 50 different things though.

Fig. 5 Multiple ways of making 'it' stick: read (book and e-book), highlight, tag and take notes.

If the module, or your tutor isn't doing it for you then the next step is to dig around for a book, video or image that does it for you.

Most likely, and of far greater value, is for you to turn that lesson into a memory of your own creation. There is always value in taking notes, so never listen to the presenter who says 'no need to take notes I'll give you the slides afterwards'. Never trust the quality of the slides. What the person said will be of more value then the slides. You, and your handwriting, and your doodles are how it starts to become a memory. Then when you write up or rewrite those notes you do it again. You make it into something. 

Fig.6 The River Ouse at low tide.

I'm fixating on the horror of drowning in a shell-hole in the First World War.

Ever since I was a boy those images of cowboys and Arabian princes sinking into quicksand has horrified me. What must it have been like? Walking the dog by the River Ouse at low tide just as it turned the gurgling of water backing up and filtering into the muddy bank gave me the shivers. That sound was ominous. It made a memory of the walk and the thought. It's also what is sustaining me as I work at a short story.

Fig. 7 A family memory of a wedding in California. Will it stick?

We've talked about 'memory making' in the family.

It is the event, and the sharing of the event. My late mother-in-law was horrified that her daughter couldn't remember a road-trip they did across the US when she was 13. I concluded that she hadn't remembered much, or couldn't remember much when it was mentioned out of the blue, as the trip was never shared. Conversations are and were always about current and future events. This is why it helps to get the old photo albums out from time to time. But there's a loss. Do we make them anymore? Visiting a mislabelled album online is never the same. 

Fig. 8. My late grandfather John Arthur Wilson MM with the author Lyn Macdonald at the spot north of Poelcappelle, Belgium where he buried two of his mates - 75 years after the event. He recalled it 'like yesterday'.

Recalling the First World War

Some veterans would talk, others remained silent. Those who did not want to remember could and did forget. My late grandfather was a talker; it drove my mother mad. I came to love his recollections. Clearly, there were events that would have burned themselves into the memories of these men, but unless they talked about it, in a veteran's association or with family and friends it was not going to stick. No wonder veterans would seek each other out over the decades. Nudged by histories and movies their memories could be changed though; sometimes they came to say what was expected of them 'the rats were huge, the generals useless, the German bunkers impenetrable, the mud up to your waist, the sound of the individual shells ... '

In conclusion

Whatever activities and devices are built into your module, you are responsible and can only be responsible for making something of it. Take the hint. Engagement takes time so make the time for it. These days it is made easier through the Internet. You can keep a blog to share or as a learning journal; you can talk it over with fellow students either asynchronously in a forum (or blog), or synchronously in a webinar. You can 'mash it up' with images, grabs, doodles and annotations. You can make it your own. It'll stick if you want it to but superglue requires effort. Someone else 'sticks it' for you and it won't happen.

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The Tragic Poker Game: World War One on the BBC

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 6 Jul 2014, 08:03

Catch the short pieces by Prof. Chris Clark on the First World War.

He's the author of 'Sleepwalkers. How Europe went to war in 1914'. He's a compelling, easy to listen to historian. A linguist too: he is adamant about the need for historians to do first hand research in the original language - he has German and French at least. An Australian whose accent has vanished after a decade or more in the quads of Cambridge.

Listen, then think again.

Personally, I have come to not wholly agree - which cost me a few marks short of a distinction on an essay on the origins of the First World War which I wrote by amongst others, by extensive reading of the OU's Annika Mombauer's edited anthologies of original documents. These are fascinating to pick through so that you can construct your own point of view.

Christopher Clark believes that a) the Kaiser, had he real power, could have and would have prevented the outbreak of a general European war b) that between the French and Russian's had been planning for it and were 'up for it' as the prospective of a test of strength developed. 

No war, no Russian Revolution?

No war, dynastic monarchies still ruling Europe?

No war ... 

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vs. Dependency

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 6 Jul 2014, 07:57

You'll never learn a thing if someone else does it all for you.

There are the extremes of course of 'looking at someone else's notes', to reading their essay, to collusion where someone assists you big time. Then there is cheating where someone else writes the paper or sits the exam. What I'm talking about is 'taking the plunge'. No video or e-learning course will teach you to swim; you have to enter the water and take your first strokes.

But somethings we like others to do.

I am rubbish with cars. I have put diesel in a petrol car and added oil to the screen-wash. I can check the oil (now), do the screen-wash and check the tyres. Little else.

When it comes to blogging the beauty of this OU Student Blog is that it is straightforward and has been simplified and clarified in various ways over the last couple of years. 'Out there' you can have yourself an equally simple blog, say on WordPress. Fine, until you venture a tad further and want your own domain name (.com), or to add credit card payments (to sell stuff and to invite donations - we're all poverty stricken students right?). It is too easy to become overwhelmed, to fear clicking on the wrong thing. I have deleted a blog. And I have paid for a fancy theme and some other knobs and whistles that I didn't really want. So you find someone else to teach you, but there is a fine line between being taught and having someone else to do it for you.

Struggling to get ww.mindbursts.com in the right place I booked some time with a guy I'd already done some short courses with. He's great, but in some respects like a concert organists who knows how to pull all the bells and whistles with ease - what makes more sense, for him to spend two hours trying to show you how or to do it for you in 15 minutes?

I called early for 30 mins and he was on another call; three minutes later, following some simple instructions I'd done what I was going to ask him to do sad I just have to commit, just have to jump in, get my hands dirty, find out, make mistakes (so long as they aren't expensive).

 

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Universities value research over teaching

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 4 Jul 2014, 09:29

Fig. 1 Grabbed from The Times earlier this week

This may be the case but it has not been my experience with the Open University. What about you? Of the seven modules I have done five of my tutors, several professors, otherwise with doctorates in education, have all had a healthy and current record of research. I like to think that they make the time for the stimulation it brings to their practice; that content with students adds something. Those Associate Lecturer's who did not have a background in research made up for it with their attentiveness and love for 'their' module - hard to say which makes the 'better' AL, to be indulged, or to have a sharp mind strategically offering you their insights.

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Visualising Instructional Design for e-learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 3 Jul 2014, 06:28

Fig. 1. 'Swimming Lanes' design for e-learning course on 'Starting a Business'. (C) 2014 Future Learn and the University of Leeds.

I keeping doing e-learning modules for a variety of reasons:

for the intrinsic value of the course (I have started companies a couple of times before, modest affairs, always profitable and want and even need to do so again. Simple, low turnover, service-based, a unique idea or product).

for the lessons I learn from the experience given my interest in e-learning. This is my third FutureLearn module, only two weeks duration. A wee piece of perfection. Informative. Clear. Applied. Enjoyable. Connected. Varied. If you study for the Master in Arts: Open and Distance Education (MAODE) you will come across and even create your own planning charts like the one above. This is a gem. It is so easy to see how the thinking has been realised. It is a pattern that is instantly transferable.

Clarity is crucial. Good design is simple. It is also a pleasure to look at.

Future Learn has some gems. E-learning is coming of age. 

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The origins of the First World War - as a rap

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Fig. 1. Origins: Rap Battle

You can fault it; Joffre doesn't have a word. And George V had nothing to do with taking the British Empire to war 100 years ago. He was a constitutional monarch; we should look to the cabinet and Foreign Minister earl Grey in particular. Kaiser Wilhlem II, also a constitutional monarch had far more influence over the appointment of senior officials, though it is Reich's Chancellor Hoffman Hollweg with Moltke we ought to lampoon as the German rascals who went on the offensive in a drive to build a more substantial German Empire. While Tsar Nicholas II is represented by a bear of a man, while the Tsar was short and slight. Franz Josef, the elderly Austro-Hungary Emperor, signed what his officials put in front of him. 

A great way to introduce the subject? Humour gets your attention. Or overly simplistic?

Remember the lines and you might have the basics of the origins too. Schools won't permit because of the language, though young people will watch it anyway.

You've only got 17 days left to view or download.

Inspired? Controversial? 

The First World War: Origins: The Movie?

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The power of seven

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 6 Jul 2014, 08:23

Fig.1 The way I learn with the OU

Rare is the person, my late father and daughter are this rare beast, where you can read or listen to something and 'get it' first time. I'm the opposite. I have to listen once, listen again and take notes.

That's three.

Read the transcript and notes. Then listen again and realise what is being said is very different to my first perception.

That's five.

And then share what I think is being said in a forum such as this - often to be told that I still haven't got the main point.

Which makes six.

I know that 'understanding' feels like, which is the goal.

If at this point there is a marked assignment to do then I'll be OK.

The assignment makes seven.

For some of us this takes repetition and variety. I like to think that having to do it this way the learning is deeper, though I have my doubts. We all have our own ways of doing these things

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E-Learning Works

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 1 Jul 2014, 08:14

Fig.1. The remarkable rise of the game-player turned racing car pro.

Successfully translating the experience of the game-world to the real one successfully heralds a tipping point in this kind of e-learning. The Times ran an article yesterday on the progress of Jann Mardenborough, a global-Virtual F1 teen online game-player sensation. Mardenborough has taken what he can do from his bedroom to the race track and by all accounts is demonstrating that enough accurate and useable adaptation has occurred; that the kit, software and download times put at a game-players fingertips an experience that is a simulation, not just a simplified gamification.

I have found that Rosetta Stone works - the gamified language learning App. 

I have studied and tried QStream (used to be Spaced-ed) and know that it works too (more in this blog)

On my third and fourth Future Learn online modules I both enjoy and value what I am learn and wonder at the coming of age of the platform: clear, smart, intuitive, friendly, a partnership of student choices and control, a variety of ways into and around the content (though this requires a degree of digital literacy confidence and experience).

 

 

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You do one and you hunger for more!

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I describe Future Learn modules to people as one of those expensive coffee table books rich with illustrations, with the benefit of having the author and fellow enthusiasts around the table. Works manual, 'how to' encyclopaedia? Anyone who is or has been an OU students knows the score. Self-directed, but with carefully thought through guidelines and activities.
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Why?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 27 Jun 2014, 07:04

Fig.1. Santorini Islands. 3D, tectonic plats and the magma chamber below.

Four years of studying learning at Masters level and have I got the motivator down to one three letter word? Why?

'Why' feeds the curiosity and evolves into an interest, understanding and love - even an obsession. Do you want to know more? Do you keep asking why?

As it was cheaper to fly out to Santorini for six days then two or three (accommodation provided) I find myself out and about. Thus far I have done what I call 'the Google-car' trip around the 70 square kilometres of the island: I've turned down every alley and lane to see where it takes me. This included what I'd describe as a couple of 'lobster pot' twitten-like walled alleys, as well as a 2 mile dirt track that came out at that rare find - the secluded beach with a ramshackle cafe/bar and a handful of sun-loungers. This is a spot I've been back to already to escape the tourist crowds along the cliff-top thorough-fares of Oia and the beach at Kamari.

Fig.2. Cape Skaros facing North West from Imerivogoli. 400m up a cliff.

Questions started at dusk yesterday when I decided to walk down to, around then scrambled onto what my older sister insists on call 'The Tit'  (Cape Skaros). We are staying in a B&B just the other side of 'the view' costing for one week what people 100 yards away pay per night!! (Hotel Casa Bianca). 

Fig. 3 Layers of volcanic rock types on Cape Skaros, Santorini.

Most of the rock on the island(s) is volcanic and of several different types. There are layers like a trifle. The search in Google for 'Santorini Geology' leads me to several articles of increasing levels of sophistication. I'm now downloading a paper from the OU Library which will push my capacity to understand and thus lead to the references, further questions, perhaps a forum and certainly some basic texts on geology and vulcanology. GPS tags all over the island have shown that it is pitching off the horizontal all over the place. They suggestion that tens of millions of liquid magma are entering the chamber below which suggests one of two kind of events: the minor earthquake and emissions of poisonous gasses and perhaps lava (last time 1956?) or, less likely, the 10,000 to 35,000 year event which last occurred between around 1600 BC which had a catastrophic regional if not global impact.

The other curiosities that got my attention was a museum of Greek bagpipes or 'tsabouna'.

More like the Northumbrian pipers. The curator of the tiny remains of a 13th century Venetian castle demonstrates some ten of the instruments from the collection in regular concerts. I had another of a taster to want to go back.

And the pre-Minoan archaelogy. Not quite Pompaie but remains of those from the island some 3,600 years ago. 

REFERENCE

Evolution of Santorini Volcano dominated by episodic and rapid fluxes of melt from depth

Is a module on intermediate French the right one for me? Maybe it should be geology. 

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Feeding one's curiosity

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Fig. 1 Santorini - the vertiginous volcanic cliffs

How did Santorini form? A volcanic mountain, far bigger than Krakatoa, exploded and the centre of the island sand 200 to 300m. For the detail, the layers of rock, the difference kinds of volcanic formations, I'll need to drill a little deeper than the local tourist guide.

 

Fig.2 A chapel, church or cathedral around every corner

I estimate that you can't travel 200 yards without finding another chapel. And like the above, you find yourself descending the cliff face and find it leads to ... another chapel.

I sense the Easter Island effect here - anyone who could afford one financed its building? Or they were simply very religious. 

Here for a family wedding. Its surprising how much reading and writing you can get done in the ample 'down time'. 

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Artificial Intelligence - the answer to giving another 200 million a university education?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 23 Jun 2014, 10:20

Fig. 1. The Observer in the late 1970s did a piece that suggested by the 21st century we'd be racially a mix and the weather would be everywhere like 'San Diego'.

Artificial Intelligence - Androids too would need to go to school and university. I've been catching 'Do Androids dream of electric sheep' on Radio 4 (Blade Runner, the movie version of the story). There's much said about replicants having no childhood. To be of value to their human masters they would need to grow up as children too, not least to build, rather than be given, knowledge. Initially segregated, then intergrated; first slaves, then ‘free men’ and ultimately a fourth gender to go alongside male, female and transgender.

Might the Open University one day have artificial associate lectures? Always available? 24 hours, 7 days a week. Like a SatNav, after all, one part of the AL's role is to nudge us students along in ways that are, to the educator, painfully predictable.

Students are sheep, not wolves? 

 

 

 

 

 

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