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Does it work? Have I learnt anything? Have behavious been changed?

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Two things that might have been measured three years ago that show change: the speed at which I type, touchtypye with both hands or with my left only holding an iPad fighting back the desire to fall asleep. And reading. I used to be a slow and clumsy reader, know it can be done at a sprint. I dropped into our library and have some actual books. I have no interest in taking notes on either. The first 'The Salient' on the Western Font around Ypres, the second 'A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare'. This isn't why I took the MAODE - these are side effects, like the digitsl literacies I have gained from forums to wikis.
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What does the Masters in Open & Distance Education make me?

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Not that I'm inclined to put letters after my name except on some official notice, but does this make me:

J F Vernon M.ODE

J F Vernon M.ode

J F Vernon M.ED.

J F Vernon Ed.M

or simply

J F Vernon MAD

or 'Mode in the OU'

I think I'll have it tattoed on my backside as it has hardened over the last three years. Or a large 'O' and and large 'U' on the back of each hand.

Just wondering.

 

 

 

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My insatiable appetite for e-learning

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I've joined the #H817open MOOC.

A few reasons for this.

I had originally signed up for H817 so this is my way of getting a piece of the action. Although my MAODE is done I'd wanted to retake H807 (my first module) and found this replacement more appealing ... H807 was languishing in the early part of the millennium when I did it.  Think studying Aircraft before and after WW1 by way of example. It was all a bit clunky.

So there's that reason.

I'm on H809 which is the better potential bridge into research - applications for PhD work are coming due. I may even have to postpone 'til 2014.

And I believe in the power of total immersion.

Whilst distance and e-learning has served its purpose these last three years I now crave fulltime, campus based study - mixing with students and colleagues, attending and giving lectures, taking tutorials and moderating student forums i.e the all round educator in tertiaru ... or postgraduate study.

Onwards and upwards

(Fuelled by Prometheus which I watched last night and that infected my dreams. An add pattern of a repetitive or recurrent dream where I am Sellotaping posters to a long scroll and flying through space. Rather sums me up at the moment)

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The use of the internet and other new technologies is not a panacea for learning and education. DISCUSS

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 11 Jun 2013, 11:08

This from a paper from Rebecca Eynon a Professor of Education and the Oxford Internet Institute (Eynon, 2009:277)

Her book 'Teenagers and Technology' is a valuable read too.

So what do you think? Do we expect too much, too quickly from technology? Look at the horseless carriage, it still can't drive you home - well, not in England anyway. Over a hundred years ago you could stumble into you tub trap after a few too many pints of ale and your dobbin would take you home. I suppose the equivalent today would be to have a private secretary to do all this typing stuff for you?

Pizzas burning, must dash.

REFERENCE

Eynon, R (2009) Mapping the digital divide in Britain: implications for learning and education. Rebecca Eynon

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How would we recognise a digital scholar from the other kind if we met one?

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Martin Weller, in 'The Digital Scholar' looks forward to the time when there will be such people - a decade hence. I suggested, in a review of his book in Amazon, that '10 months' was more likely given the pace of change, to which he replied that academia was rather slow to change. That was 18 months ago.

Are there any 'digital scholars' out there?

How do we spot them? Is there a field guide for such things?

I can think of a few candidates I have come across, people learning entirely online for a myriad of reasons and developing scholarly skills without, or only rarely, using a library, attending a tutoral or lecture, or sitting an exam. But can they ever be considered 'scholarly' without such things? They'll need to collaborate with colleagues and conduct research.

On verra.

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An avalanche is coming

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 24 May 2013, 12:42

An avalanche is coming: Higher education and the revolution ahead

An Avalanche is Coming (not)

No it isn't, or rather - no more than at any specific location around our digital universe. And the idea of a revolution is ludicrous. Do we expect to see guns in schools? (US of A excepted).

Pearson Education want to scare us. This paper is doing the rounds and courtesy of is sensationalist title and its massive quoting of the press in its construction then it will get ample press coverage. Most in academic institutions, some years ago, realised that the change, would be more akin to melting glaciers. Not even of the climate change variety.

I've got an essay crisis on at the moment.

The module is Practice-based research in e-learning with the OU.

The first block and the last five weeks has been spent learning how to review literature so that you feel the authors are credible and the subject has been treated in an objective way with research that is empirically based. There are academic papers and books on the likely or potential changes to Tertiary Education, such as:

  • 'Rethinking University Teaching: A conversational framework for effective use of educational technology', Diana Laurillard
  • 'Contemporary Perspectives in E-Learning Research: Themes, Methods and Impact on Practice' Grainne Conole
  • 'Preparing for Blended e-learning' Allison Littlejohn
  • 'Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age' Helen Beetham
  • 'The Digital Scholar: How Technology is Transforming Scholarly Practice'

I have read all of these and am currently reading 'Teenagers and Technology (Adolescence and Society' Chris Davies and Rebecca Eynon which took me to her paper 'Mapping the Digital Divide in Britain: Implications for Learning and Education'.

My sober response to this 'paper' starts with the title.

We should read anything with a sensationalist title with great caution. There are two traps that journalists fall into, or exploit, either to say there is revolution or to say that disaster looming. The sober, academic, empirically researched view is often far more contained, less exciting and so less inclined to gain press attention for its authors - in this case Pearson.

I'm up at 4.15 to write an assignment where I have had to put forward five papers and argue for their inclusion to help me get to the bottom of a research question.

I've read three books, reviewed some 60 and read some 20 papers at least to get this far. The research question is set in Tertiary Education.

In the last month I have been to both University of Southampton and University of Oxford - I don't for example, see Balliol College, Oxford, marking its 750th Anniversary this year, changing that radically. The model works too well, indeed, if anything, the Internet will make these institutions more appealing to students. Indeed I spent over an hour on the phone to a second year English Literature Student last night - from Perth in Western Australia, clearly very bright and motivated. She described how she Googled 'English Literature', found the top universities, then chose the one of the leading Colleges at Oxford.

My alarm bells start to go when a forward is written by 'emeritus' - however amazing their career has been, they have retired and their choice may be for PR reasons.

Excuse the cynic in me.

Are the other two authors, employees of Pearson, learning academics? Neither.

Then I turn to the bibliography and I find pages of citations ... for journalists.

In my experience of the last three years of a Masters course in E-learning I have learnt that very few journalists should ever be read on the subject as they always have an agenda - the bias of their paper, the need to sell papers, and the need to sell themselves. What struck me is that NOT ONE of the leading academic figures on the shifts that are inevitable to tertiary education are mentioned here, the names I have given above you may notice, were mostly figures from the OLDS MOOC by the way.

I will read and try to offer a balanced review in due course but fear that the response that it usually elicits in me is the same as the sensationalist titles of these things.

In this case, if its snow then wait for spring and the problem will go away ... and what about all those countries that have no snow?

A few years ago I realised that there was something no right with the concept of a 'digital native' or 'digital immigrant' - both are nonsense.

More recently I've given far too much time to stripping down Nicholas Carr 'The Shallows: what the Internet is doing to our brains' more nonsense that at least has be eager to study neuroscience.

Perhaps I like a fight, or debate.

Academia doesn't have to sensationalise - it has to aim to get it right, prove its case, strive for objectivity and 'the truth' and be reviewed.

This looks too like exaggeration 'avalanche' and 'revolution' are well chosen buzz words that will make headlines in the papers - and it lacks the empirical evidence which is a necessity. (And don't be fooled by fellow humans how have been to Harvard or any where else - we're all human, all fallible and usually have an agenda). Must go! J

I may be wrong, but a little more than intuition says read with great caution and make up your own mind - what would or what do fellow OLDS MOOCers think for example?

'Making meaning with metaphors' or some such is a quote from Grainne Conole.

We did a module that was about little else. We cannot help but think in metaphors - neuroscientists such as V J Ramachandran think this is what distinguished us from Neanderthal - we 'think outside the box' as it were. So, metaphors matter and are convincing and plausible and simple.

My take on the Internet and the WWW is to think of Web 1.0 as a digital ocean and Web 2.0 as the entire water cycle (yes, my first degree was Geogrraphy!). So, no harm to have an avalanche in the mix ... but in this context, of a global system, with cyberspace, the avalanche is just one event or a series of events, in one landscape, that is one tiny part of a vast, far more complex and changing system.

I flick open this table I created in order to review the literature for the paper I have to write ... give me a few days and I'l apply it to 'The Avalanche is coming'.

Nice title, what about the content?

TITLE
Who are the players? What are their credentials. Which institutions did they represent and where are they now. What have the written since and what else are they known for?

QUESTIONS / PROBLEMS
What research questions are being addressed?
How does the research question relate to the design of the research?
What is the sector and setting? (e.g. school, higher education, training, informal learning)

LITERATURE REVIEW
In what ways is the wider literature used in the paper?
What theories, concepts and key terms are being used?

EDUCATION THEORY
What views of education and learning underpin the research?

METHODS
What methods of data collection and analysis are used? (e.g. the number of participants; the type of technologies; the use of interviews, surveys, observation, etc.)
What are the limitations of the methods used?

FINDINGS
What did this research find out?
What counts as evidence in this work?
Are there any ethical issues associated with the research?
What are the implications (if any) for practice, policy or further research?

Lord David Putnam is quoted in the opening pages.

He is Chancellor of the Open University, an honorary post, he is a former producer of TV commercials and movies who sits on the Labour benches in the House of Lords. Nice chap, but his perspective is to the left and whilst he will listen to the brilliant minds around him when he visits the Open University, he is not an academic himself. i.e. what is expressed are an opinion.

What we need are the facts.

 

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Alice Walker

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 14 Mar 2013, 18:27

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I'd heard of 'The Color Purple' - I've seen the film

The other day on Woman's Hour they interviewed the author Alice Walker and the producer Pratiba Parmar who has just made a documentary on Alice Walker called 'Beauty and Truth'. I would be worth a trip into London this Sunday - its showing at the South Bank Centre.

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Some of the things said about Alice Walker:

  • Born on a paper thin shed in the deep South.
  • Books that have shaped cultural discourse, and started conversations ... we don't have enough woman's stories to inspire.
  • Standing up for the truth, whatever the consequences.

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Some of the things Alice Walker said:

  • Popular from the universe, I'm popular with trees. The truth is all we have, without the truth we're lost.
  • Activism is the rent I pay for living on the planet.
  • We have to pay homage for living on the planet.
  • All of us everyday should be thinking about being greatful for being here, for all that we have been given for nothing.
  • The power of art - you can write something, you can sing something ... you can reach someone through art.
  • If you have a lot of love
  • We are amazing people on an incredible planet.

Here's the Pope. Here's why we should have woman bishops and priests too.

Although here latest novel 'Possessing the secret of joy' on female genetal mutilation might not go down so well.

It's left me wanting to know much more, to read more ... and take on some of this message. Simply being grateful for every day. A year ago I joined Blipfoto where you take and upload a picture a day _ my goal always to post something I was grateful, pleased or amazed to see.

The joy of being.

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Teenagers and technology

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 11 Jun 2013, 11:11

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Fig.1. Letters from Iwa Jima. Clint Eastwood directed Movie.

In one of those bizarre, magic ways the brain works, last nigmt I watched the Clint Eastwood film 'Letters from Iwo Jima' then stayed up reading in bed (quest for a very specific paper/set of papers on teenagers/young adults, health, presription medication) while waiting for my own teenagers to come in from a concert in Brighton.

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Fig.2. Last minute reading for H809 TMA01

I stumbled upon 'Teenagers and Technology' by Chris Davies and Rebecca Eynon.

After a chapter of this I did a One Click on Amazon and kept on reading through the next couple of chapters.

I kept reading once they got home.

My mind constructed a dream in which instead of bagging letters home from soldiers, I found myself, Japanese of course, constructing, editing and reassembling some kind of scroll or poster. I could 're-enter' this dream but frankly don't see the point - it seems self-evident. I'll be cutting and pasting my final thoughts, possibly literally on a 6ft length of backing wall paper (I like to get away from a keyboard and screen from time to time). Reinforced by a Business School module, B822 Creativity Innovation and Change I found that 'working with dreams' and 'keeping a dream diary' are some of the tools that can be used.

If I wish to I could re-enter this dream over the next few months as a short cut to my subconscious.

We'll see.

I'm not sure how you'd come up with a Harvard Reference for a dream.

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Fig.3. fMRI scan - not mine, though they did me a few years ago

Perhaps in 20 years time when we can where an fMRI scanner like a pair of headphones a set of colourised images of the activity across different parts of the brain could be offered.

Dream on smile

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H809 Reflection on Block 1 - towards compliance for those with moderate severe asthma

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 11 Jun 2013, 11:16
The most straight forward of assignments has proved anything but ... not for how to write this 2000 word piece, that is straight forward, but rather committing to a subject, then narrowing down the theme, possible research question and then dig up some papers ... and not simply offer the lot, but give the five 'that say it all'. To pick five how many must you read, at least as abstracts. I made three false starts, even read a PhD thesis on blogging before deciding it is a minefield. I may like to blog but I no more want to research it for an OU assignment than sort out pebbles on Brighton Beach. Lifelogging, memory and neuroscience all interest me ... but are too big to get my head around in a few months - a few years perhaps. Looking at my notes I see I have papers also on augmented learning for field trips and museum visits. Then I returned to a platform that caught my eye three yesrs ago on H807 when I interviewed Dr. B. Price Kerfoot of Harvard Medical School on 'Spaced Education'. So far this system has been usef with doctors, to support their learning and decission making ... the next step will be patients. One of the humdingers here is 'compliance' - taking the medication you are prescribed if you have a chronic condition. What dawned on me this afternoon is that as a asthmatic I am the perfect patient - compliant to the nth degree. What surprised me is that such a large percentage of asthmatics are not. But with alleregies - a double-whammy of irritations, I ignore the nasal steroids and antehistemines almost completely. Compliant, and defiant in one go so just about canceeling the two out. But why? This is what fasciantes. You know you need to take something to avoid a return of the symptoms, but as there are no symptoms you stop taking the medication. Anyway, I am sifting through papers to set me straight and to offer some answers. If you have a moderately severe chronic condition and wish to share your medication regime or attitude please speak up - asthma, allergies, diabetes, epilepsy, other mental illnesses - chat on Skype? Meanwhile I checked my preventer inhaler - it was empty. I at least had a spare and will get a repeat prescription in tomorrow.
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If I coud see what is going on in there!

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This could surely be some kind of nueroscience research - my mind is going through hoops and will continue to do so while it figures out what the heck if going on. I have a contact lens in my left eye for close up and a lens in my right for distance. My mind will in time put to two pictures together in one. For the time being parts of my brain are being made to dance. This would surely show up on an fMRI scan - it should do - I can FEEL it.
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Why study the electric car if you goal is to understand motor transport?

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To study e-learning before studying learning is like coming to motorised transport via the electric car. Perhaps I need a decade in teaching.
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Moving on ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 11 Jun 2013, 11:18

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Here in Lewes we shut the town centre down for a march as often as we can.

It all stems from 5th November. We had only been here a couple of months and we were enrolled in a Bonfire Society. That was 13 years ago.

The town also has a Moving on parade for all primary schools in the district, not just the town, but from outlying villages. The town centre is closed to traffic and kids, dressed up, carrying banners and whatnot on a theme, march through town and end it with a party in the Paddock - a large field, formerly part of the earthworks around the 11th century Lewes Castle.

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It helps to make an occasion of something when we move on. We're rather good at it:

  • Christenings
  • Marriage
  • Death
  • Birthdays
  • Anniversaries
  • Graduation

I'm down for Brighton or will try to enroll in Versailles for my graduation. I skipped my first nearly three decades ago. I just didn't feel like moving on. I hadn't felt I'd had an education to justify the fuss. My fault, not theirs. I put in the hours and came out with an OK degree but that isn't why I'll remember my undergraduate years.

I should mark moving on, and away from this blog. It logs, day by day, and in the background countless pages of hidden notes. It has carried me through the Masters in Open & Distance Education.

H809, my bonus track, will mark the end.

For this reason I am migrating most of the content and the journey it records to an external blog.

My Mind Bursts

From time to time I'll post a note at the bottom of the page to say this is where it'll be from June.

My moving on.

By May, I'll also know if the next few years have been set up. We'll see. I may even be back at the OU in some capacity. I rather

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Loss of a Mother - woman have Woman's Hour, men have Top Gear.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 12 Mar 2013, 11:03

Woman also have 'Loose Women', surely the female version of 'Top Gear'. But do men have an equivalent of 'Woman's Hour' or are we supposed to get that from GQ or Esquire magazines sad

I don't make a point of listening to Woman's Hour, but as I'm at home and have done years on and off as househusband it becomes a regular feature of the day. The radio goes on in the kitchen and in the car. I need to be in one or the other.

Is 'Woman's Hour' a party broadcast for the female gender or fascinating issues presented in a radio magazine that mix topicality, with feature and fiction?

Actually it was this late Friday morning I was running out in the car to walk the dog on the South Downs.

Friday 8th March is one you need to download before it comes off air in a few days time.

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Fig. 1 Listing on BBC Website - you've got 4 days within which to download this.

BBC RADIO 4 WOMAN's HOUR - PODCASTS

Topics covered:

  • Women Coaches -(worth keeping)
  • Alice Walker - author of the Color Purple (very worthwhile)
  • Vicki Price and the law
  • Women in parliament - could they job share?

The one that had me stop what I was doing ...

Loss of a mother

I'm the boy whose favourite place as an infant was on my Mum's hip and as I gew up on the kitchen counter learning to cook, taking her tuition as an art teacher (MA in Fine Art from University of Durham). Our parents split up when I was eight and she only remarried in her 60th year. She died a few months ago.

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Fig. 2 Women's Hour, Friday 9th March 2013 A 43 minute programme.

On loss of Mothers - if you only have 12 minutes sping through to 00:30:00

What is the impact of losing a mother?
Alice Walker
What is happening here and why?

Paul Mcartney was 14 when his Mum died of a brain tumour. If he had a time machine he would go back and spend time with her.

A speaker Jane Tilly about her mother when she died when she was 17.

At significant transition moments, having no one to share it with.
A role model

The guests:

Maureen Fearon – Therapsit

Lucy Gannon (Playwright, television writer, plays, shortsand 'Soldier, Soldeir' and producer)

Lucy Gannon

  • Lucy's Mum died when she was eight.
  • Know who you are, what diseases you've had, so you lose some of your identity.
  • Children need to know that they are at the centre of someone's world so that they know they are
  • Your life is going on, try to get continuity.
  • You lose your place in the world – she was in care though.
  • Keep that child in the centre of the world they know.

Maureen Fearon

  • Her mum died when she was 29.
  • Look at the grandparents, look at the average, and she's going to be at least that = 89/90.
  • Deeply tearful because of trigger music.
  • That overwhelming,  'I want my Mum'.
  • Smells. Going through the tough times in life. Through challenging times that smell comes and floats away. When there is no smoke there. In our minds, or where it is.
  • Took 12 years of real pain, neurolinguistic exercise ... did it once and fixed.

The mention of how the mind brings back smells is intriguing.

Maureen Fearon is a therapist, not a neuroscientist. There is a phenomenon where we see people we love who we have just lost, it might be the end of a close relationship or the death of someone close - our mind sees them in other people. I relate to this idea of lucid reconstruction of specific smells.

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Fig. 3. From 'Neuroscience for Dummies' - not as stupid as it sounds!

I can, give me a moment, smell the mothballs in my late grandmother's spare bedroom, and while she smoked them the Benson and Hedges cigarettes which surely made her knitting honk? Other smells I can call up include the silt and rotting fish heads of Beadnell Harbour in the 1960s ... and a Christmas tree, and Christmas Pudding, marshmallows roasted on an open fire, melting butter on toast with Old English Marmalade ... and our pet dog as a child, Morag the black labrador, wet and warm from being out in the rain ...

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Fig. 4. Sheila Vernon (nee Wilson) 1931-2012 with her son Jonathan c1973/1972 ?

My Mum's parents where 83 and 96 when they died, so an average might have been 90?

She died a few months ago age 81. She had planned to beat the Queen Mum. We all thought she'd do so. But as my even later grandfather kept saying having reached 90, 'I don't mind when I go, I've had a good innings'. He was in his 97th year - we thought he'd make it to a hundred, but at trip to the Western Front to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Paschendaele where he had served as a machine gunner had left him ill (and heart broken).

 

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New ways of reading

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I'm trying something new, probably in breach of copyright, but if I keep it to myself where's the harm? But does it work? As I read a paper I freeze the page when I spot something I wish to note, crop this image then load this image into a Google Doc where I can add notes, or cross reference from other papers. I assemble my thoughts and those of others like digitial scraps. Currently treating myself to all that I can find related to asthma. I may not be an MD, but an MD doesn't have the MAODE and if there is one thing I've learnt these last three years, it is what I am not understand at all will in time become familiar.
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Are you asthmatic?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 11 Mar 2013, 08:11

I'm most interested in those who, like me, who have Moderate Persistent Asthma

Where you not taking medication regularly (or when they run out and you forget to get a new prescription ... I do too often) then the asthma symptoms would occur almost daily.

Your asthma severity is classified as moderate persistent asthma when:

  • You have asthma symptoms daily.

  • You wake up from your asthma more than one night per week, but not every night.

  • You use your rescue inhaler daily.

  • Your asthma moderately interferes with your daily activities.

With moderate persistent asthma, you will need daily asthma medication with anti-inflammatory properties, as well as a second medication.

You are able to gain control of your asthma with two medications, what we call the 'blue one' and the 'brown one'.

The brown one, the inhaled steroid, you take a couple of puffs in the morning and a couple at night.

The blue one, the reliever, or what in North America they call the 'rescue' inhaler, you take as required.

My interest is based on some research done in Brighton by Robert Horne 'Compliance, adherence, and concordance: implications for asthma treatment' makes for interesting reading.

30% of patients ignore the advice, don't bother with their 'brown one' and over use their 'blue one'. This group are far more likely to end up in hospital, develop further complications and dependencies on drugs, or even die.

In our family, my father's stubborn refusal to take his daily medication led to him having a major asthma attack, he was put on a nebuliser and injected steroids to keep him alive and as a result became diabetic.

So why don't people take their medication?

All down to a combination of personality and false perceptions about taking inhaled steriods. Nor does it help when invariably the weakest (Lord of the Flies) or the baddest (Casino Royale) are portrayed as asthmatic.

REFERENCE

Horne, R (2006), 'Compliance, adherence, and concordance: implications for asthma treatment', Chest, 130, 1, pp. 65S-72s, CINAHL, EBSCOhost, (viewed 10 March 2013).

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Working in the clouds

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 08:52

Fig. 1. Study of Clouds, John Constable. Inscribed 31 Sept.r 10-11 O'Clock.

Constable did little else but paint the weather conditions from July through to Ocotber 1822, which is why curators can accurately say that the artist did this painting on the 1st October.

I've shared my frustrations with Cloudworks from the start of the OLDS MOOC 2013 ... and had some experience a year ago on H807 Innovations in E-learning ... so entered the cloud with a sense of dread.

I stuck at it and found some odd ways in.

What mattered was the contact with people I got to know - as they gave up it became inevitable that I would do so too, not least because I had more pressing matters. H809 a postgraduate module, partially produced by the same team as it comes from the Open University stable, but a very different beast.

More like getting on a bus with four to five stops a week.

A weekend for an assignment every five weeks and a longer sojourn to produce a short dissertation at the end. Four tutors groups each with less than sixteen people in each.

I liken my Cloudworks experience to Freshers' Fair ... every day of the week.

Every time I came in I wondered around getting interested in what other people were doing, sometimes landing their by mistake. So a Fresher's Fair with some 12 entry doors on several floors with the people behind each stall mostly changing too. Your brain gets tired of the overload, the lack of landscape and in this sense 'Cloudscape' is the right term, for the wrong reasons. A 'Freshers' Fair' is when students invite the entire new intake at a university to come and see what societies are on offer - imagine the eqivalent of several village halls, with stalls manned by students, offereing everything from ballroom dancing to nueuroscience, Pooh Sticks Society to the Conservative Association, Bikers to Chess.

I took some pictures of this Constable painting 'Study of Clouds' in the Ashmolean Museum when I was in Oxford on Friday.

What was I doing in Oxford. Hankering after 'the real thing' - a chance to meet and talk with some people in the flesh, this at an talk on Virtual Worlds in Japanese at the Centre of Social and Cultural Anthropology hosted by the Oxford Internet Institute.

After a while, all this online stuff has you eager to meet likeminds in person.

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Objects as a point of study

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 10 Mar 2013, 23:46


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Elias Asmole believed that knowlege could be gained through the study of objects and so gave his collection to start a museum in Oxford in 1677. When students got tired of wordsin the myriad of libraries acorss the city they could come here.

I need a few days in the Ashmolean and a few weeks to savour it, helped by a hundred 'grabs' with the iPad as I went around. Visitors were asked to name the 20 things to see if you had little time - I'd go for the maps and timelines and collections such as these that cover nearly 1500 years in a few coins and notes. Here an Anglo Saxon, then a Mercian Penny. Alfred the Great, William the Conqueror and Edward III. Henry VII, Edward IV and Elizabeth I.

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Worked with day dreams

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Day dreams are easier - you wake up and you have the energy and time to write it down. All the papers I am reading I send to the iPad. I got reading, then gently closed the iPad and slept. I filed and sorted papers in the dream. If this sounds like a nightmare then I should add that they were each like a highly starched duvet. The 'clarity' came later walking the dog. Doing something else and working with dreams are valid techniques by the way.
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OU Library and a developing understanding of why too many asthmatics don't bother to take their prescribed medicines.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 11 Jun 2013, 11:23

I will never tire from serving my curiosity when I entre the OU Online Library. I am often lost for weeks at a time, dipping into everything that catches my eye, reading some of if all the way through, following up further leads, then further leads until I find I've either circumnavigated the globe, dropped back a century or more or am spinning circles in a slow, spiraling descent through a single authors previous thinking.

I don't need a ball of thread to help me find my way out and there's no Minotaur to slay at the centre.

All I hate is a underpowered laptop and a rubbish internet connection.

Currently my interest is reseach on compliance, noncompliance, adherence and coherence in use of asthma drugs. I should know, I am one. My compliance is excellent. One asthma attack in my teens and I do everything to the letter. I fail to understand how and why 30% of people with my condition end up hospitalised or dead. The reading is extraordinarily diverse, bringing it down to the person, their identity with the condition and unwillingness to take a couple of puffs on an inhaler morning and night - when surely they are in and out of the bathroom anyway?

If you know any asthmatics like this please put them in touch or send them to my blog where I will add notes.

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Mind, body and soul

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 7 Mar 2013, 08:55

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Fig. 1. Looks a like a good read

I'm starting to read papers on neuroscience that result on my starting to use my hands and fingers as I read, even reading and re-reading phrases and sentences. What is going on here?

If I understand it correctly there is, because of the complexity of connections between neurones, a relationship with many parts of the brain simultaneously, some common to us all, some, amongst the millions of links, unique to us. Each neuron is connected to 10,000 others. To form a memory some 15 parts of the brain are involved. It is situated, much of it we are not aware of. Come to think of it, while I was concentrating I got cramp in my bum and right thigh perched as I am on a hard kitchen chair, and the lingering after taste of the cup of coffee I drank 45 minutes ago. I can hear the kitchen clock ticking - though most of the time it is silent (to my mind), and the dog just sighed.

Does it matter that my fingers are tapping away at a keyboard?

Though second-nature, touch-typing it still occupies my arms and hands and fingers which may otherwise be animated were I talking. I am talking, in my head. The stream of consciousness is almost audible.

What would happen where I to use a voice recorder and speak my thoughts instead?

By engaging my limbs and voice would my thinking process improve and would the creation of something to remember be all the stronger.

I'm getting pins and needles/cramp in my right leg. Aaaaaaaaaaagh! Party over.

The question posed is often 'what's going on in there?' refering to the brain. Should the question simpley be 'what's going on?'

Learning & Memory

My eyesight is shifting. In the space of six months of moved to reading glasses. Now my normal glasses are no good either for reading or distance. Contacts are no use either. As a consequence I'm getting new glasses for middle distance and driving. The solution with the contact lenses is more intriguing.

To correct for astigmatism and near or short sightedness I am going to have a one lens in one eye to deal with the astigmatism and a different lens to deal with the short sightedness in the other. My mind will take the information from both and ... eventually, create something that is sharp close up and at a distance. This has me thinking about what it is that we see, NOT a movie or video playing out on our retina, but rather an assemblage of meaning and associations formed in the brain.

I will try these lenses and hang around, wander the shops, then return. I am advised that I may feel and appear drunk. I can understand why. I could well describe being drunk as trying to navigate down a path with a microscope in one hand and a telescope in the other while looking through both. I feel nauseous just thinking about it.

So 'stuff' is going on in the brain. These days the activity resulting in the brain finguring something out can, in some instance and to some degree, be seen. Might I have an fMRI scan before the appointment with the optician? Might I then have a series of further scans to follow this 're-wiring' process.

I need to be careful here, the wrong metaphor, however much it helps with understanding may also lead to misunderstanding. Our brain is organic, there are electro-chemical processes going on, but if I am correct there is no 're-wiring' as such, the connections have largely existed since birth and are simply activated and reinforced?

Any neuroscientists out there willing to engage with a lay person?

What would observing this process of unconscious learning tells us about the process of learning? And is it that unconscious if am I am aware of the sensations that have to be overcome to set me right?

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H809: A question of blogging

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 20 Oct 2014, 12:20

Fig.1. Why blog?

A) What is the research trying to find out; what questions is it trying to answer?

B) How will the proposed research answer the questions?

C) Why is this research worth doing? Punch (2006:05/60)

My interest and participation in blogging is obvious. I am exploring other subjects to research, but inevitably come back to this. There are fields where blogging works, and others where it does not.

Do you think that students who keep a blog learn more?

Retain more? And so get more from their undergraduate studies?

Are certain subjects more appropriate for this where writing and digital literacies are being developed?

Such as:

  • journalism,
  • corporate communications,
  • advertising (social media and copywriting)
  • creative writing and even postgraduate research?

Blogs also mean generating, collecting and curating images and video

What role do these play in personal and professional writing?
What if it is made compulsary, a graded component of all or part of a module you are taking?

What about those in the visual arts such as designers and art directors, who create concept boards for development purposes, or for architects and fashion designers, as well as  in the performing arts such as actors and directors?

Might those following vocational subjects such as medicine or law set in train a way to enhance a life of learning?

Could blogs be peer graded successfully?

What benefits do you get from reading or contributing to another persons blog?

Is it less a blog and more of a publication when others contribute and the 'blog' carries advertising and is available to read only through subscription?

What do we learn by thinking of the origins of blogging as keeping a diary, log or journal, such as the private diary, journey log in a yacht, or writers journal?

Is it just electronic paper?

'Tell the reader what QQ the researcher is trying to answer, or what questions will initiate the inquiry in an unfolding study.' Punch (2006: 65)

Another way to gather your thoughts and ideas?

When is a blog an e- portfolio? What does it reveal about the person if the blog is shared?

Are like-minds attracted to each other?

What are the copyright and other legal issues? 

How honest or revealing should one be? Are the concerns about exposure and disclosure valid?

It's not what you remember about yourself that is of concern, but what you remember about other people. What they did, who they were with ...

When does truth turn into fiction and does it matter if the reader cannot tell and isn't told?

What about plagiarism?

What is the perspective behind the research?

What is the role of theory?

What is the prestructured versus unfolding research?

What is the relevant literature?

Will the study be quantitative, qualitative or both? Punch (2006:60)

'The proposal should indicate the significance of the proposed study. Synonyms for 'significance' here might be justification, importance, contribution or intended outcomes of the study.' Punch (2006: 68)

REFERENCE

Blogging

From Wikipeadia

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Uta Frith - the brain as a garden, full of the most interesting, different things ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 1 Mar 2013, 15:50

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Fig.1. My brother's 'garden' for which he won a school prize.

'Her metaphor for the brain is that of a garden, that's full of the most interesting,  different things that have to be constantly cultivated and constantly checked' Kirsty Young (01:24 into transmission, BBC 2013)

This morning I caught Professor Uta Frith of UCL on Desert Island Discs for the second time - this time round I paid closer attention.

I then went to the BBC website and took notes.

Having recently completed H810 Accessible Online Learning and of course interested in educaiton, this offers insights on what studying autism and dyslexia tells us about the human mind.

There's more in another BBC broadcast - Uta Frith interviewed for the BBC's Life Scientific - Broadcast 6 Dec 2011 accessed 1st March 2013 - and available by the way until January 2099 should you not be able to find time and want your dyslexic grandchildren to listen.

The difference in how each of us see the world.

'We learn by taking different perspectives – something about ourselves which we otherwise would have never known'. Uta Frith

'Take what's given to you and make the best of it, but of course the cultivation is key to all of these things, so culture in our lives, learning from other people ... these are the really, really important things'. UF

We may all have some of this in us.

Genetic factors matter.

'How we are raised is a myth. It is not right. It has been so very harmful. It is a illusion to think that doing the right things, for example that you get from books, that you can change things.'

Then from BBC's Life Scientific

'A passionate advocate of neuroscience and how its findings can be used in the classroom to improve learning. She hopes that eventually neuroscience will inform education in the same way that anatomy informs medicine'. (01:35 in, BBC 2013)

Wanting knowledge of the brain to inform education the way knowledge of the body informs medicine.

From the UCL pages

Professor Uta Frith is best known for her research on autism spectrum disorders.

Her book, Autism, Explaining the Enigma (1989) has been translated into many languages. She was one of the initiators of the study of Asperger's Syndrome in the UK and her work on reading development, spelling and dyslexia has been highly influential.

Throughout her career she has been developing a neuro-cognitive approach to developmental disorders.

In particular, she has investigated specific cognitive processes and their failure in autism and dyslexia.

Her aim is to discover the underlying cognitive causes of these disorders and to link them to behavioural symptoms as well as to brain systems. She aims to make this research relevant to the education of people with development disorders and to contribute to a better quality of their everyday life.

Uta Frith on YouTube on early years, then on dyslexia

 

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Just about swimming in the digital ocean

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 19 Nov 2013, 09:33

I’ve described it as a digital ocean often enough so I shouldn’t have been surprised when I found myself in it. That was a couple of nights ago. Writing to a colleague with a mixture of excitement and concern I told them why they had to take an interest in the impact Web 2.0 would have and was having on the Pharmaceutical Industry – she works in medical market research interviewing then analysing qualitative data and writing reports.

I had written the sentence, ‘do you want to get on your surface board or get washed out in the rip current when I visualised myself back in this dream. I can use lucid dreams deliberately to help me dwell on matters, or just for the fun of it.

I know that the dream, its location and events, are a projection of how I feel about an issue. After a couple of months of total immersion in Web 2.0 reading and coursework and trying to plan a long term future in this environment I started to find myself in the water.

I got a sense of both nerves and excitement at being under the breaking waves but preferred to get out beyond them. It as a shock to find myself heading down the coast and looking inland for all intense and purposes as if from a bus window that was on its way. My feelings and views on this is to be adequately prepared – for the water fit and with a surf board, even with something to wave to get the lifeguard’s attention. And that being in the breaking waves might be better still. This is my digital landscape visualised. The flotsam and jetsam of old practices get washed away or left on the shore.

The ‘players’ are on this breaking edge, where the ocean makes landfall.

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H809 : Research questions in a spider-map

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 13 Nov 2014, 10:21

Had I known what I know now ... three years ago, perhaps I would have taken more care about what I read. From three weeks of H809 I've created this 'spider map' to use as I read anything new. It runs from Structure in a clockwise direction through to Implications. I've only just counted the number of 'issues' - 12 is a coincidence. The reality so far is that 8 will do it, 12 if I want to be thorough and probably just a few of these if I am going to look at title, abstract, authors. Should some of these be merged? In time these should become automatic. 'Paradigms' throws me. I'm not hot on 'concepts' or 'frameworks' either. All the more reason to be on H809!

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Driving learning for students of Public Relations through blogging

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 3 Mar 2013, 10:30

Driving learning through blogging: Students’ perceptions of a reading journal blog assessment task. (2007/2008)
Melanie James

I'm reading these papers for a few reasons:

  • part of H809 - getting my head around how research is conducted
  • my interest in blogging as more than verbal jamming (my take on it)
  • its value or otherwise as a student learning experience
  • its value or otherwise in a business context
  • this paper as its author came out of 'industry' to work in academia - my hoped for career shift.
  • whether there's PhD research in here somewhere.

(I currently think not based on the papers I have read and a PhD thesis on blogging in business - to ill defined, too broad, nothing that orginal to put online what some people may have put in a diary/journal, gets confused with internal communications, PR and journalism. Is NOT an effective means of knowledge transfer. I'd prefer the expert view - in person. Perhaps where the skill of this loose kind of writing is under scrutiny - stream of consciousness as a writing style).

The uses are specific. The greater value is with those for whom writing forms a part of their career plan.

So journalism, creative writing, PR, communications and social media ... advertising too. As a platform to support a foundation course it might be used to develop academic writing skills. Three years ago I pulled out my 1999 copy of 'How to study' from the OU.

My notes on this are interesting for two reasons

  • noting how the book is laid out like a web page (it is of course the web page than still is a poor copy of the printed word)
  • the pertinence of the advice to someone studying a undergraduate and graduate level
  • the style of writing, that feels like it comes from the 1950s.

'After we've read, heard and talked about a topic, our minds are awash with ideas, impressions and chunks of information. But we never really get to grips with this experience until we try to write down our own version of it. Making notes is of some help, of course. But there is nothing like the writing of an essay to make us question our ideas, weigh up our impressions, sort out what information is relevant adn what is not - and, above all, come up with a reasoned viewpoint on the topic that we can feel it our own'. (Rowntree. p. 170 1999)

Problem/Opportunities Students who fail to engage with the required course readings will be silent and disengaged. This can have a negative impact across all students.

Students who don’t engage with the technology, such as blogging, will be at a disadvantage as PR in the future will include the use of Web based technologies.
Structure Questionnaire taken alongside end of module questionnaires taken by each cohort.
Questions Does this type of  assessment task increase student engagement with required course
reading?
Does the assessment task have wider application than in public relations courses?
Does this facilitate the development of students’ technical skills in using new media?
Setting University of Newcastle, Australia
First and Second year Public Relations undergraduates.
Author Dr. Melanie James, PhD (UoN), Grad.Cert. PTT (UoN), MA Journalism (UTS), BA Communication (Hons) (UTS), MPRIA joined the School of Design, Communication and IT at the University of Newcastle in November 2006 after working in senior management roles in strategic communication, government communication, public relations and marketing communication.
Research Research on teaching and assessment. (Rowntree 1971, Boud, 1988)
Concepts
Methods A formal survey was undertaken in Semester Two to evaluate the students’ perceptions of the reading journal blog assessment task and to identify students’ opinions as to the strengths and weaknesses of the two specific aims of the assessment task. (James 2007 p. 2 )

The first aim was measured by asking whether they felt the task contributed to their learning about public relations at an introductory level through engagement with the course readings and the second aim was measured by asking whether they felt the assignment had facilitated their development of technical skills in blogging.

The survey questionnaire included 12 Likert-type items which asked for levels of agreement-disagreement with statements relating to the reading journal blog assessment task.
Partial triangulation as similar/same questionnaire used for the course as a whole?

Multichoice type online survey completed anonymously.
Frameworks
Findings Only a minority of students commented on other students’ blogs even though it was clearly indicated on the grading criteria that it had the potential to earn the student more marks. (James. p. 5 2007)

From a lecturer’s perspective, the level of engagement with the assessment task in particular, the coursework projects generally, and the in-class discussion was extremely satisfactory. (James. p. 6.  2007)

The overall standard of the final course group project was high, and although not directly comparable with previous years’ results, average grades for the course were higher. (James. p. 7. 2007)

Nearly three-quarters of respondents (71%) agreed that the blogging assessment task tied in well with the class exercises and other assessment tasks (RQ6). (James. p. 11. 2009)
Paradigms A constructivist approach to learning – learners construct contextual meaning rather
than students predominantly being passive receivers of information (Anderson, Krathwohl, Airasian, Cruikshank, Mayer & Pintrich, 2001).

Combining a learning journal with a blog was seen as a way to design an assessment task that responded to both identified challenges and would also foster the active engagement and personal investment factors that Angelo (1995, cited in Connor-Greene, 2000), considers crucial to effective teaching. (James p. 4. 2007)
Limitations Academics unclear of the marking criteria.
Students not familiar with blogging so needed more setup time.
Academic integrity of the content.
61% responded to the survey.
Implications Ways to better design the course.
Use of sentence leads to start the blog.
Use of sentence leads to comment on other people’s blogs.

PR students will need to be able to set up, maintain and contribute to blogs and make decisions about whether such tactics should be adopted in campaigns (Alexander, 2004; McAllister and Taylor, 2007).

This reads like second guessing the way the world has gone - but sucessful social media PR agencies do little else but blog for their clients, some do reputation management seeing what the social media are saying.

Reading to learn has long been a feature of higher education (Guthrie, 1982, cited in Maclellan, 1997).

For all the highfalutin e-learning interactive stuff how much do postgraduates, let alone undergraduates, spend reading? If you study law how else do you engage with the content?

Enthusiasm for the new from academics. “blogs have the potential, at least, to be a truly transformational technology in that they provide students with a high level of autonomy while simultaneously providing opportunity for greater interaction with peers” (Williams & Jacobs, 2004, p. 232).

It must be human nature to respon in one of two ways to anything new - love it or hate it. Academic research can turn revolution or pending doom into the mundane.

'As expected from the experiences of students in the first iteration of the assessment task, RQ4 and RQ5 clearly indicated that the majority of the respondents were inexperienced with both blogging and posting comments to existing blogs'. (James, p. 10. 2009) So much for Prensky, Oblinger et al and the ‘digital natives’ - far from being eager and skilled online, they are nonplussed.

More than two thirds (67%) of respondents indicated they had not had experience with blogging before the course, and 80% disagreed with the statement “posting comments on other people’s blogs was something I’d done regularly prior to doing this course”. James, p. 11. 2009)

So much for Prensky, Oblinger et al and the ‘digital natives’ nonsense - far from being eager and skilled online, they are nonplussed.

REFERENCE

Alexander, D. (2004). Changing the public relations curriculum: A new challenge for educators. PRism 2. Retrieved 24th April, 2007, from http://praxis.massey.ac.nz/fileadmin/Praxis/Files/Journal_Files/Issue2/Alexander.pdf

Anderson, L., Krathwohl, D., Airasian, P., Cruikshank, K., Mayer, R., & Pintrich, P. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives (AbridgedEd.). New York: Longman.

Boud, D. (1988). Developing student autonomy in learning (2nd ed). New York: Kogan Page.

Connor-Greene, P. (2000). Making connections: Evaluating the effectiveness of journal writing in enhancing student learning.Teaching of Psychology, 27, 44-46.

James, M.B. (2008), 'Driving learning through blogging: Students? perceptions of a reading journal blog assessment task', Prism, 5 1-12 (2008) [C1] (accessed 27 Feb 2013 http://hdl.handle.net/1959.13/38338 )

McAllister, S. & Taylor, M. (2007). Community college web sites as tools for fostering dialogue. Public Relations Review, 33, 230-232.

Maclellan, E. (1997). Reading to learn. Studies in Higher Education, 22, 277-288

Prensky, M (2001) Digital natives and digital immigrants. 

Rowntree, D (1999) How to learn to study.

Williams, J. & Jacobs, J. (2004) Exploring the use of blogs as learning spaces in the higher education sector. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology 20(2), 232-247.

 

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