The OU student blog platform changes are largely an improvement but there has been one catestrophic change - 2200+ blog posts later and all my tags are now in a random jumble rather than alphabetic order. How, after three years of effort building this am I supposed to find and click on a particular theme or issue, name or anything else? An easily fixed error surely? Using an iPad other functionailty has been lost - going into HTML mode you cannot copy or paste anything - crucial if you have a lengthry/complex url to paste in as a link or image.
Fig.1. Index Card Holder
An odd one this, but with my shift away from trying and expecting to do everything on an Internet connected device - nothing printed out, nothing written down, I have swung round to complimenting this 'screen work' with pads of paper, note books, a whiteboard and even index cards.
I'm currently sifting through all the possible causes of the First World War
I am collating notes from various books and having reduced these to eight themes in Google Docs I am now picking through these and putting them on index cards ... which in turn I want to develop as a series of carefully composed multiple-choice questions to put onto an online delivery platform such as Qstream and a mind-map.
I came across these in ASDA.
On special offer for £2, down from £4.50 I think. I may go and get some more as I like the idea of having a topic per Filofax-like binder. You might not have 60 key events/ideas or issues, but once in this wee binder they are, at low cost, portable and accessible - for me as I think through and prioritise a set of arguments, but for anyone with an exam, something to flick through repeatedly until the information sticks.
Fig.1. From Max Hastings new book. Catastrophe.
This is wrong!
Russia's partial mobilization on the 26th understandably gave rise to considerable worry in Germany and Austria-Hungary. Only when Russia fully mobilized on the 29th did Germany responded. It worries me how many inaccuracies, lies, and old assumptions will be published and broadcast over the next five years. Max Hastings is not an historian.
Perhaps in our connected 21st century any such errors will be quickly picked up.
Did your great-grandfather or grandfather take part in the conflict? Did a great-grandmother become a nurse? Is there a death or several indicated in your family tree from this period? How relevant is it today tothe map of Europe and of the world?
Fig. 1. Betthany Hughes - The ideas that make us. BBC Radio 4.
The volume of 'educational' content I gather from BBC Radio 4 is remarkable - there is so much of it. Much of it recalled here over the last three years.
Here is a 15 minutes piece that might make you the fiction writer you have always wanted to be.
She derives the word from ancient Greek and its use in Himer's Illiad then interviews an eloquent Aussie Cricket commentator during the Ashes and the author Kate Mosse at her publisher's.
Agony helps us to empathise with another's struggle.
'Struggle, in the form of philosophy of ideas, is at the heart of a good novel', says Kate Mosse, 'otherwise there is no story to tell'.
Jeopardy and contest is central to what makes us human.
And when it comes to the effort of writing:
'Try again, fail again, never mind, fail better', said Sam Beckett.
Fig.1. From the transcribed interview for the Business & Information Systems Engineering eJournal, Vol. 1 PP126-129 (2009)
Found as an eJournal rather than the title of the piece. I'll add him to my growing gallery of 'Who is who' of eLearning.
The fact that an entire paragraph of his interview is quoted by Prof. Laurilard suggests that he has something important to say. In parenthis (Laurilard) and blue (my choice). I will add examples or case studies to enhance and/or to embed my understanding of this.
Fig.1 Hevner (2009) on the whiteboard. From Laurilard (2012)
From time to time an idea stops me in my tracks - taking notes won't do, I have to get it out of my head in bigger ways. I'll mull over this for days as it succinctly states where or how any e-learning intervention might occur and in what ways research can then be undertaken. I guess this is of relevance to most of the MA ODE modules, though H809 Researched-based practices in e-learning appears particularly appropriate.
The temptation is to BluTack sheets of backing wall-paper to the wall and continue my doodles there.
One to develop. I'll go and get the Hevner paper from the OU Online library.
Hevner A. R. (2009) Interview with Alan R. Hevner on 'Design Science' Business & Information Systems Engineering, 1, 126-129.
Laurilard, D (2012) Teaching as design science. Building pedagogical patterns of learning and technology.
I'm delighted to say the the transformation is an enhancement and the improvements are seamless without any loss of what we had before ... a 'bulletin-board-cum-blog-thingey'. My previous post suggested I might have found a bolt-hole without Internet. It hasn't lasted.
I will get Internet access down the road (I had wanted a garden office but this desire became an insummountable barrier at home).
All that it requires from me is something I lack - self-discipline NOT to get distracted by email, which includes updated postings from forums and the likes of Linkedin (let alone a gaggle of family members on Facebook). AOL is the worst as I innocently go to check email and find 20 minutes later I am still clicking through the inviting gobbets of news and sensation that is offered.
I had hoped to behave like the smoker trying to give up - I'll only smoke other people's fags. A very, very, very long time ago ... I can honestly say I have never smoked a cigarette since I turned 20.
Back to the Internet. Like Television.
Or diet. We are living in an age where self-control is vital. Having not had a TV for several months I was eventually pushed to buy one. Courtesy of Which? we now have a TV so Smart that it probably tells my brother in South Africa who is watching what .... we can Skype sofa to sofa. I just wonder if our antics could be recorded and posted on YouTube? Not my doing but any of the teenagers with the wherewithal just hit a record button somewhere.
In all this hi-tech I DO have a tool I'd recommend to anyone.
I've invested in an hour-glass. In runs for 30 minutes. While that sand is running all I may do is read and take notes. This might be an eBook, or a printed book, either way they are on a bookstand. I take notes, fountain pen to lined paper. What could be easier? The left hand may highlight or bookmark and turn a page, while the right writes?
This works as the filtering process of the knowledge that I am reading and want to retain needs to go through several steps in any case. The handwritten notes will be reduced again as I go through, typing up the ideas that have some resonance for me.
My current task has been 'How Europe went to war in 1914' by Christopher Clark.
I doubt my second thorough read will be the last. From notes I will start posting blogs and going into related social platforms to share and develop thoughts and in so doing be corrected while firming up my own views. I need this social interaction, to join the discussion if not the debate.
Meanwhile I will revisit Martin Weller's book on Digital Scholarship.
However swift the age of the Internet may be he suggests it will still take a person ten years to achieve the 'scholar' level ... whereas John Seely Brown recently reckoned this was now down to five years. i.e. through undergraduate and postgraduate levels and popping out the other end with a PhD in five years.
DIdn't an 18 year old who was home schooled just get called to the Bar?
She graduated with a law degree while contemporaries did A' Levels and finished High School and then did a year of pupillage I suppose.
The intellectual 'have's' of the future will, by one means of another, achieve degree status at this age. The Internet permits it.
School is far, far, far, far, far too lax.
It tends to the median if not the mediocre. Long ago it found a way to process kids as a genderless yeargroup instead of treading each student as an individual ... so let them skip a year, let them stay back a year ... allow them to expand and push subjects that appeal to them.
My thirteen years and more studying with the OU has seen how I learn shift. The current twist is looping back to the less distracted days of being 'off line'. At the same time I have done a couple of things that are very old school:
1) A 'Room of my own' without internet access (my choice) .. down the road with an opt in/ opt out. Also an 'office' (I recently bought the domain name Mindbursts.com.
2) Pen and paper ... and by that I mean a fountain pen with ink cartridges and a pad of lined paper - not quite an exercise book, but close.
1) I am easily distracted. Studying with the Internet 24/7 it is too tempting to be checking email, responding to forum messages or just browsing, I miss linking to books and journals I read about, but these can wait. Maybe the impluse to purchase or read another book weill reduce by the time I get to consider it in the wee hours back at home. My 'room' is ten miles down the road.
2) Partially this is physiological - I am seeing a physio trying to untangle or unknot some hideous pain in my left elbow which I ascribe to typing up blog entries with my left hand while reclined on the sofa or in bed. Partially it is knowing that there is never a short cut to learning and knowing a subject. I truly believe that mixed methods work - that it helps to take the written word and write it out, and type it out, and talk about it and visualise it. Neurologists will confirm that memory formation requires the binding of activity across the brain, rather than from just one part of it.
Meanwhile, I look forward to another e-learning module, H818, with trepidation:
1) I need to demonstrate to myself that I can keep up and even improve on the standard I'm now able to attain. (Time and effort and the only two words to think about).
2) I will be running in tandem with anothe module, taught old-school, at a different university, simultaneously. Already I dread the commute to a monthly day-long tutorial that I can only do by train if I am on a train at 5.20am. It'll make for a very interesting comparison. If the OU offered the module I want to study I would have done it - they don't. This surprises me given the Open Learn work they are doing on the First World War with the Imperial War Museum.
Best wishes to all ... so much for thinking I'd finished with this. Next up I'm applying to the OU to do a PhD so I might be around for a while longer yet.
I started an early e-learning module H808 in 2001 ... skipped off the final paper and came back to it all decade later. I have both books and papers from that period which make for amusing reading.
"The personal blog system is going to be migrated from the old learning system on Monday 9 September. In order to migrate the personal blogs with their content, the system will be made read-only on the 9 September. The blog contents will then be transferred to the new system, which benefits from improved blog functionality. This is a large task and we expect the new personal blogs to be available from Thursday 12 September. As part of the migration, there will be redirects from the old blogs to the new ones and the personal blog link on StudentHome will be updated".
I BELIEVE the OU are using the WordPress Open Platform.
I wish all the team during the migration the best and will support it every inch of the way - if students (I am one, still) can use and share with ease a blog platform their capacity for 'social learning' will be hugely improved. By this I simply mean having the opportunity to share your ideas with fellow idiots until you figure out what is really going on and best of all the input and support of online friends and some brilliant minds who put your problem in such a way that it suddenly makes sense.
|From Jack Wilson MM|
Fig.1. My late grandfather featured in the Consett Gazette in 1917 on receiving the Military Medal.
A few months 'out of the loop' and I feel my knowledge on e-learning draining away - it is such a vibrant and fast moving area that I feel I need to refresh and update at every opportunity, so here I am again with H818 The Networked Practitioner.
There's a practice based element to this which I'll apply to an longheld interest in the First World War.
There'll be a lot of interest, reflection and soul searching over the 100th anniversary from 2014 to 2018. That war is relevant to the Europe and wider Europe we live in today, from Northern Ireland to Syria, via the Balkans and the EU.
I've just read 'The Sleepwalkers. Why Europe went to war in 1914'. By Christopher Clark.
More than any book I have read before on the subject this blows away any myths or propoganda - not least the fact that Germany did not start the war, that award goes to Russia with France's support. I'd have liked to study this period with the OU but the History modules simply don't accommodate this. I'll therefore be going up to the University of Birmingham, in person, once a month for a mamoth day-long series of tutorials and lectures. That's as 'distant' as it gets with very little online support.
I won't study at the OU just out of habit and I'll have to take on more work to pay for it, but I am looking to continue my studies here. Nothing else works but the relentlessness of it. I miss the 'railways tracks' of the VLE that punctuate my week with some reading with meaning and an activity or two or six or more.
Perhaps after a lifetime of wishing I could write as well as read French this is something I should tackle?
Having said that - a recent visit to Belgium and I was surprised when people looked at my blankly when I spoke French - for them it was Flemish or English. I gave up apologising for speaking English and slipped, usually, into a fluent conversation. It seems that Belgium is close to us, even if we aren't close to them. Like Scandinavia I think it has something to do with back to back English TV.
FIG.1. Projected onto the sitting room wall
The migration between kit and now the use of multiple devices tells its own story - that and my enhanced levels of digital literacies. And dependency on my OU blog??? I am too used to starting here then cutting and pasting the HTML results into WordPress. This platform works because it is kept simple. OK, you have to get your head around a few basics (which are good for any blogging platform), but the thing is stable and robust - it hasn't changed much in three years and it is always there.
Either I'll wean myself off it or I'll plugin to another module of course and be here for another decade. You get used to a thing - especially when it works. Calls to other institutions regarding their VLE have left me cold - some still old school box of books and turn up for an all day Saturday face-to-face once a month as your only tutor and peer group contact.
From a clapped out Mac Book that died and a Psion I moved on to a borrowed PC laptop ... and scrounging computer access around the home. Only recently I got a Mac Mini - for the previous 18 months I've been fine on an iPad with moments on my wife's PC to view and print off DOCX.
The Mac Mini gets what ever screen my teenage son leaves me with - he tends to snaffle away any new screen I get, just swaps them over. I may take me days to realise something is afoot.
And then there is the above - projected onto a wall with me working on a wifi keyboard and touchpad. It changes things. Next to this screen there is a large whiteboard. I get up and doodle.
As for the sitting room? Long gone. Cries for a TV to bring the family together fall on deaf ears. Why would any of us gather to watch ONE version of an event when we can each take or leave our news, or films, or anything else as we please on a bigger or smaller screen in various other rooms and cubbyholes around the house?
An iPad mini will replicate when I had a decade ago with a Psion, something handheld, light and discrete that I can tap on whenever I wish and wherever I am.
'The Private Life of the Brain' Susan Greenfield is my current highly recommended read. It is certain to take you off on a tangent from whatever you are studying, but if offers a layperson's view of the inner workings of the brain.
My belligerent stance on the impact of computers to the brain - not much in my view, we're too complex, our brains too massive (94 billion neurons) has been tipped on its head courtesy of a short interview on good old BBC's Woman's Hour last Thursday. The interviewee was Susan Greenfield (Professor & Baroness). She invited listeners to get in touch if they wanted the facts on 'mind change' - as big as 'climate change' in her view, that as the brain is affected by everything that hours spent infront of a 2 dimensional world (sound and vision) our minds, especially younger, plastic brains, will form connections that make these people different.
I particularly liked the thought that all the time a child spends infront of a screen is time NOT spent 'climbing trees, interacting face to face and having hugs'. I may be adrift at the moment but have a reading list for the summer.
- Sand the piano
- Sell the table
- Wash the hedge
- Prune the sofa
My DIY day.
And a tear comes to my eyes ... what a hell of a journey! 1239 days. 1 point decides whether I finally get a distinction 84 vs. 85. But do I care? Staying with this learning for the next decade counts for more. Bon voyaye. I'm out of here!!
504,950 views too. Feck! I guess it'll take an OU PhD to push this to 1,000,000 ...
And breathing space.
How I prepare a TMA or EMA is completely unlike anything I did in the early days, even in the first couple of years or more of the Masters in Open and Distance Education (MA ODE). It is far more like designing an Airfix model, making the parts, then constructing the thing. At this stage, having thought about and written up all the component parts I did a rough assembly and came up with 3437 words for a 4000 word assignment.
Actually this is too many words - not a problem as I know where the fat lies, ideas expressed in too large a chunk. After that it's a case of getting the prose to flow.
Prioritise and give it time to breathe. I've pretty much given up on social media too - this is study journal and a moment to reflect. 'Blogging' and writing an academic paper are very different things - even journalism doesn't get close. Blogging is playing in the sand, journalism is a papier-mache self-indulgent sculpture, whereas academic writing is gathering together a complete set of artefacts, carefully arranging them in a cabinet and including all the labels.
Fig.1 H809 EMA Mindmap (for fellow H809 / MA ODErs I've added a PDF version in the TMA Forum) Created using Simpleminds.
- H809 - Practice-based research in e-learning
- MA ODE - Masters in Open and Distance Education
- TMA - Tutor Marked Assignment
- PDF - PDF
Yonks ago I realised for me the best time to study was v.early in the morning. 4.00 am to breakfast isn't unusual, 5.00 am is more typical. All it costs is an early night. This is easy too - no television. Its move from the shed to the dump is imminent.
A week ahead of schedule I find I have an EMA to complete - this'll give me a three hour, exam like run of it. Even the dog knows not to bother me.
For those on the same path the mindmap of my H809 EMA is above.
Ask if you're interested in a legible PDF version.
This gorse bush off density has patterns within it that I can decipher. The net result ought to come out somewhere around the 4,000 word mark too. This approach could not be more different to my earliest TMAs and EMAs three years ago - they were too often the product of what I call 'jazz writing' (this kind of thing), just tapping away to see where it takes you. This process used to start on scrolls of backing wallpaper taped to my bedroom wall. Now it goes onto a whiteboard first.
As always this blog is an e-portfolio: most notes, moments in student forums and references are in here.
I recommend using a blog platform in this way. You can default to 'private', or share with the OU community ... or 'anyone in the world'. One simple addition to this would be a 'share with your module cohort'.
By now I have clicked through some 165 posts taggeed H809 and can refer to H809ema for those picked out for it.
One split occured - I very much wanted to explore the use of augmented reality in museum visits, but found instead a combination of necessity and logic taking me back to the H809 TMA 01 and a substantial reversioning of it. Quite coincidentally this proposed research on adherence to preventer drugs amongst moderate to severe asthmatics had me taking a very close interest on a rare visit to a hospital outpatient's. Nasal endoscopy must look like a circus trick to the casual observer as the consultant carefully 'lances' my skull through the nose with a slender and flexible rod on which there is a tiny camera and light. 'Yes, I can see the damage from surgery' he declares (this was 33 years ago), 'but no signs of cancer'.
There's a relief.
An unexplained nose bleed lasting the best part of 10 weeks was put down to my good-boy adherence to a steroid nasal spray that had damaged the soft tissue. And the medical profession wonder why drug adherence can be so low? 20% to 60% 33 years on and courtesy of the OU Library I found a wholly convincing diagnosis - allergic rhinitis. The 'paper' runs to over 80 pages excluding references and has some 20 contributors (Bousquet, 2008). I'll so miss access to the online library as most papers appear to cost around the £9 to download. This desire to remain attached by a digital umbilical chord to such a resource is one reason I wish to pursue yet more postgraduate studying and potentially even an academic career. I get extraordinary satisfaction browsing 'stuff' to feed my curiosity.
When I stop diddling around here I'll pick off this mindmap in a strick clockwise direction from around 1 O'Clock.
Simpleminds is great as a free App. It's taken me a couple of years to get round to paying £6 for a version that can be exported into a word file though I rather enjoy the slower, more considered 'cut and paste' which adds another opportunity to reflect, expand or ditch an idea.
Bousquet, J, Khaltaev, N, Cruz, A, Denburg, J, Fokkens, W, Togias, A, Zuberbier, T, Baena-Cagnani, C, Canonica, G, Van Weel, C, Agache, I, Aït-Khaled, N, Bachert, C, Blaiss, M, Bonini, S, Boulet, L, Bousquet, P, Camargos, P, Carlsen, K, & Chen, Y (2008) 'Allergic Rhinitis and its Impact on Asthma (ARIA) 2008 Update (in collaboration with the World Health Organization, GA2LEN', Allergy, 63, pp. 8-160, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 19 June 2013.
A new edition of the ‘dictionary’ of mental illnesses was published this year – the catchily named, DSM 5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, fifth edition). Compared to its predecessors, it classifies many more types of behaviour as ‘mental disorders’.
- The first edition, published in 1952, was 132 pages long.
- The 1987 edition was 569 pages a
- The 2013 edition as it has 1000.John McGowan and Anne Cooke
My view is that we should think of disease as the status quo, that we all have something wrong with us, that this variety is part of what makes us human - we are not a troop of baboons, rather we are 7 billion lonely people, each unique, with very different brains, but also different responses to and vulnerabilities to disease. Modern science and computing in particular allows these conditions to be identified; many more such patterns will become clear as data is streamed into computers for analysis from people wearing or ingesting smart medical devices.
If this isn't a hypothesis that has been tested maybe I should take a look?
I have just downloaded Power Structure - a piece of software I first had on a PowerMac 15 year ago. It came on a pack of foppy discs then. It's been nearly four years since I used it - since my Macbook died. I've been begged and borrowed desktops and laptops for most of the MA ODE and have only got the money together in the last few months to get my own computer and gather in some of my favourite software.
Power Structure prompts me to construct a sound treatment once I have an idea in my head that I want to run with - not suprisingly its something that has come out of the last five months of a module on research. Somehow I've leant towards Web 2.0 or what the healthcare industry is calling Pharma 2.0 and a world where we wear and swallow microchips that gather and record data on our health.
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