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H810: Seale Chapter 13 : issues identified in relation to creating accessible e-learning for students with disabilities

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 22 Dec 2020, 07:21

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Fig.1 Groundhog Day staring Bill Murray

At what point does the protagonist in the film 'Groundhog Day' -  TV weatherman Phil Connors played by Bill Murray - unite the Punxsutawney community? How does he do it? And what does this tell you about communities of practice? (Wenger 1998)

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Fig. 2. Chick Peas - a metaphor for the potential congealing effect of 'reificaiton'

Issues related to creating accessible e-learning

Pour some dry chickpeas into a tall container such as a measuring jug add water and leave to soak overnight. The result is that the chickpeas swell so tightly together that they are immovable unless you prize them out with a knife - sometimes the communities of practice are embedded and immovable and the only answer could be a bulldozer - literally to tear down the buildings and start again.

'Congealing experiences into thingness'. Seale (2006:179) or derived from Wenger (1998)

This is what happens when 'reification causes inertia' Wenger in Seale (2006:189).

'Reification' is the treatment of something abstract as a material or concrete thing. Britannica, 2012.

To ‘reify’ it to thingify’. Chandler (2000) , ‘it’s a linguistic categorization, its the conceptualization of spheres of influence, such as ‘social’,’educational’ or ‘technological’.’ (ibid)

'Reification creates points of focus around which the negotiation of meaning becomes organized'. Seale (2006)

It has taken over a century for a car to be tested that can take a blind person from a to b - the huge data processing requirements used to scan the road ahead could surely be harnessed to 'scan the road ahead' to make learning  materials that have already been digitised more accessible.

Participating and reification - by doing you give abstract concepts form.

1) Institutional and individual factors need to be considered simultaneously.
2) Inclusivity (and equity), rather than disability and impairments, should be the perspective i.e. the fix is with society rather than the individual.
3) Evidence based.
4) Multifaceted approach.
5) Cultural and systemic change at both policy and practice levels.
6) Social mobility and lifelong learning were ambitions of Peter Mandelson (2009).
7) Nothing should be put or left in isolation - workshops with children from the British Dyslexia Association included self-esteem, literacy, numeracy, study skills and best use of technology.
8) Encouraging diversity, equity of access and student access.
9) Methods should be adapted to suit the circumstances under which they are being applied.
10) Technical and non-technical people need to work together to tackle the problems.
11) A shared repertoire of community practices ...
12) Design for participation not use .... so you let the late arrivals to the party in even if they don't drink or smoke (how would you integrated mermaids?)
13) Brokering by those who have multiple memberships of groups - though the greater the number of groups to which they belong the more likely this is all to be tangential.
14) Might I read constellation and even think collegiate?
15) If we think of a solar system rather than a constellation what if most are lifeless and inaccessible?
16) Brokers with legitimacy may cross the boundaries between communities of practice. Wenger (1998)
17) Boundary practices Seale (2003)

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Fig. 3. John Niell, CBE, CEO and Group Chairman of UGC

Increasingly I find that corporate and institutional examples of where a huge change has occured are the product of the extraordinary vision and leadership of one person, who advocates putting the individual at the centre of things. Paying lip service to this isn't enough, John Neil CBE, CEO and now Chairman of the Unipart Group of Companies (UGC) called it 'The Unipart Way'.

REFERENCE

Britannica (2012) Definition of reification. (Last accessed 22 Dec 2012 http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/496484/reification)

Chandler, D (2000) Definition of Reify. (Last accessed 22 Dec 2012 http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/tecdet/tdet05.html)

Seale, J. (2006) E-Learning and Disability in Higher Education: Accessibility Research and Practice, Abingdon, Routledge; also available online at http://learn2.open.ac.uk/ mod/ subpage/ view.php?id=153062 (last accessed 23 Dec 2012).

Wenger, E. (1998) Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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Balancing on a thin line - Thoughts from a study of Swedish voluntary leaders in children’s football.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 21 Dec 2020, 09:56

Learning and identity

The concepts of learning and identity are closely interwoven and seen as a social process of making meaning, primly inspired by the situated learning. (Wenger 1998)

Identity is not only about our self image or other people’s image of ourselves, it is our way of living our everyday life, it is the layers of experiences and interpretations that we have made by participating in social practices (Wenger 1998) the nature of participation, power, enterprise, mutual engagement and sociality, shared repertoire, and identity

‘Legitimate peripheral participation is not itself an educational form, much less a pedagogical strategy or a teaching technique. It is an analytical viewpoint on learning, a way of understanding learning. We hope to make clear as we proceed that learning through legitimate peripheral participation takes place no matter which educational form provides a context for learning, or whether there is any intentional educational form at all'.
(Lave and Wenger 1991, page 40).

Communities of Practice was developed by considering a wide range of apprenticeship learning situations, from traditional tailors through to participation in communities such as alcoholics anonymous.

Learning is thus characterised as a process of changing participation, from initial peripheral participation of the apprentice or, more generally, newcomer to the practices to the fuller participation available to a 'master' or old timer in the practices.

Wenger (1998) identifies three essential features:

  • mutual engagement
  • a joint enterprise
  • a shared repertoire.

Engaging in practice over a period of time develops a shared repertoire of practices,
understandings, routines, actions, and artefacts (Wenger 1998).

Participation in communities of practice is not only about learning to do, but as a part of doing, it is about learning to be (Lave and Wenger 1991)

Firstly, it shifts the focus from teaching to learning and the practices the learner engages in (Adler 1998). 

Secondly, it recharacterises the role of the teacher as not primarily being a holder of knowledge but an expert in the practices of a subject based community. The teacher exemplifies for the learner how to legitimately participate in these practices.

Thirdly, as a situated theory of learning it helps to explains the issue of a lack of ‘transfer’ of knowledge from school to non-school contexts (see Evans 2000; Lave 1988; Lerman 1999, for a discussion of this issue).

Fourthly, it recognises the intimate connection between the ‘subject’ practices and the pedagogical practices and therefore helps us to understand why different pedagogies not only influence the amount that is learned but also what is learned. The acquisition (Lave 1988) or representational model (Seely Brown and Duguid 1989) of learning in school contexts distinguishes between what the students are to learn or to ‘acquire’, and the means by which this learning occurs. A division is made between subject and pedagogy.

Fifthly, it highlights the extent to which educators are not imparting knowledge nor even only helping their students to engage in particular social practices but rather to become particular types of human beings. Thus it opens avenues of inquiry to understand learners' patterns of identification and non-identification with schools mathematics (see for example, Boaler 2000)

The community of practice model, based on the metaphor or actuality of apprenticeship learning identifies three basic positions that participants take up.

These can be referred to in the following way:

  • master/old-timer/expert,
  • journeyman/established-member/adept,
  • apprentice/newcomer/novice.

 

However, it is clear that the basic positions in a classroom are not like this, there is generally a single teacher and a relatively large number of pupils. Moreover, the trajectory of participation of the student is not to become a teacher (Adler 1998; Lemke 1997; Lerman 1998).

One way of reconceptualising or extending Communities of Practice is to consider learning as taking place in 'ecologies of practices' (Boylan 2004)

REFERENCE

Adler, J. (1998) "Lights and limits: Recontextualising Lave and Wenger to theorise knowledge ofteaching and of learning school mathematics." In Situated Cognition and the Learning of Mathematics, ed. Anne Watson, 161-177. Oxford: Centre for Mathematics Education, University of Oxford Department of Educational Studies.

Boaler, J. (2000) "Mathematics from another world: Traditional communities and the alienation of learners." Journal of Mathematical Behaviour 18, no. 3: 379-397.

Boylan, M (2004) Questioning (in) school mathematics: Lifeworlds and ecologies of practice PhD Thesis. Sheffield Hallam University

Herting, K (2006) Balancing on a thin line - Thoughts from a study of Swedish voluntary leaders in children’s football. AARE’s 36th Annual International Education Research Conference Adelaide Australia November 27 -30 2006

Lave, J, and Wenger.E (1991) Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lemke, J. (1997) "Cognition, context, and learning: A social semiotic perspective." In Situated Cognition: Social, Semiotic, and Psychological Perspectives, ed. David Kirshner and JamesWhitson, 37-56. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Lerman, S. (1998) "Learning as social practice: An appreciative critique." In Situated
Cognition and the Learning of Mathematics, ed. Anne Watson, 33-42. Oxford: Centre for
Mathematics Education, University of Oxford Department of Educational Studies.

Seely Brown, J, and P. Duguid. (1991) Organisational learning and communities of practice: Toward a unified view of working, learning and innovation. Accessed November 2000. Available from http://www.parc.xerox.com/ops/members/brown/papers/orglearning.htm.

Wenger, E. (1998) Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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H810 Activity 36.1 Make notes in response to the following questions:

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 4 Jan 2013, 13:45
  1. What artefacts inside and outside your organisation have created (or could create) points of focus for you and your colleagues when it comes to developing accessible learning resources?

Examples of internal artefacts might include a policy, an inaccessible resource that a student has complained about or a new module outline that you are developing.

Examples of external artefacts might include an article you have read, a proprietary authoring tool or guidelines on a website.

(AGENCY = a 50 or less web agency that specialises in the creation of e-learning. Some the 'Kall-Kwik' for e-learning, what would have been leaflets, posters, linear video or afternoon workshops turned into e-learning on a tight budget and schedule - slick production in a team of six+ specialists - previously linear video for facilitated workshops, or video with a workbook, then interactive on disc, before moving to intranets and online.)

(CLIENT = a national or multinational of 10,000+ employees hungry for training, both compliance and management training. Keen to exploit e-learning tools and eagerly trying to use social learning too. I have worked for very many and inside a few.)

Professionally I have worked 20 years in the latter and 2 years in the former.

(SWIMMING = from the perspective of a 1000+ club that is five clubs in one offering: teaching and competitive swimming, mastes, waterpolo and disability swimming. As a coach and club officer I have been involved in teaching, coaching, swimming, implementing change and undertaking every four years a mamoth audit called 'Swim21' that leads to the creation of an Improvement Plan. Equity, Disability and Child Protection, Data Protection and Personal Development are key relevant issues)

AGENCY -  Style Guide, ISO 9000?, Web Usability, Training, Experience, Exposure …

CLIENT - Style Guide, Mission, Vision, Corporate Responsibility …

SWIMMING - Improvement Plan for Swim21, Disability Officer Role Description, National Disability Classification for competitive swimmers, CPD as workshops and online. Two groups of for disabled swimmers. Regional hub. +ve/-ve outcomes of the Paralympics.

  1. Are there any artefacts that you think you and your colleagues have over-relied on or misused to the point that they are now negatively influencing your practice? If so, why do you think this is?

AGENCY - JAWS Screenreader, the browser will sought it out …  a PDF once we’ve finished.

CLIENT - policy and a person, Style Guide

SWIMMING - Swim21, the experience of those working with disabled people.

  1. Is there any evidence for mutual engagement, joint enterprise or shared repertoire in the community (or communities) you belong to?

AGENCY - none

CLIENT - token, until you see Take3 video

SWIMMING - with local special needs schools, severe disabilities, dyslexia and in mainstream.

  1. What has influenced whether or not the people in your community are all working in pursuit of the same accessibility enterprise or objective?

AGENCY - None

CLIENT - HR by organisation

SWIMMING - forcing hand to get one or one or two into an equity course, more onto disability and as a requirement onto child protection which is relevant.

  1. Seale discusses the development of accessibility within an organisation as the creation of a constellation of practice rather than a community of practice. How helpful do you think this approach is?

AGENCY - piecemeal, turn it on like a switch, distraction for the most junior.

CLIENT -  probably

SWIMMING - Yes, with the ASA the sun, outlying planets and their satellites.

Yes, as the efforts of one trying to be everyone and be everywhere doesn’t work, not will a constellation of people in silos.

  1. Do you think that the model shown in Figure 13.1 on page 182 would be useful as a trigger for discussion within your organisation?

The McKinsey model also highlights the fact that, in creating whole organisational change, attention must be paid to different elements of the organisation. This supports our findings about the need to take a multi-pronged approach, be systematic and holistic, take an embedded approach, and target multiple institutional functions. May and Bridger (2010:96) The Seale (2006) puts people into silos.
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I find the constellation of communities works as a metaphor that might be a children’s round-about or the petals of a flower. It gets everything into one place, but it doesn’t suggest how they interact. The MsKinsey 7S model on the other hand, developed by a global management consultancy and regularly applied to organizational and team problems, is a tool that can be understood and applied in your context to help identify and solve complex problems.

See The McKinsey 7S Framework, Mind Tools (1995–2009) http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newSTR_91.htm

  1. Would it enable you and your colleagues to identify what changes or developments are needed and why they are needed?

AGENCY - yes, if a crisis occurs or there is a budget to stand back and take a look at what is going on.

CLIENT - bottom line and society …

SWIMMING - audit, action team, top to bottom, holistic, time … introduce, understand, apply.

  1. Would the labels on the figure be different for your organisation? If so, how and why?

Yes, because none of my contexts are in Higher Education. I look at the diagram, then at a room full of people. Many people will be in several ‘communities’ so the model quickly breaks down.

REFERENCE

May, H. and Bridger, K. (2010) Developing and Embedding Inclusive Policy and Practice in Higher Education, York, The Higher Education Academy; also available online at http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/ assets/ York/ documents/ ourwork/ inclusion/ DevelopingEmbeddingInclusivePolicyPractice_ReportFinal.pdf (last accessed 28 August 2012).

Seale, J. (2006) E-Learning and Disability in Higher Education: Accessibility Research and Practice, Abingdon, Routledge; also available online at http://learn2.open.ac.uk/ mod/ subpage/ view.php?id=153062 (last accessed 28 August 2012).

Wenger, E. (1998) Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

 

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H810 Activity 37.1 Identify three issues that are of most relevance or of most interest to you. Write two or three paragraphs about each of these three issues.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 21 Dec 2020, 07:59

1) Engagement with all

Bringing about effective change in inclusive policy and practice is less to do with the
specific method or approach employed and more to do with ensuring that a range of
stakeholder groups is sought and an appropriate range of methods or approaches are
used that are fit for purpose by being both relevant to the context and to the particular
groups they seek to engage. May and Bridger (2010:99)  Having a diverse team, with different roles, views and experiences, can contribute to an initiative’s success. (ibid)

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Fig. 1 A constellation of accessible e-learning practices.

2) No single method as a panacea

A variety of methods are needed to facilitate inclusive policy and practice. No one
method is sufficient, particularly given the nature and scale of change required to bring
about inclusive policy and practice. May and Bridger (2010:98)

McKinsey%25207S%2520Framework.JPG


Fig.2. McKinsey 7S model from the May and Bridger (2010:96)

3) Institutional and individual factors


A key finding of this study has been that sustainable and effective inclusive cultural change will only come about through institutions focusing simultaneously on both institutional and individual factors.  May and Bridger (2010:05)

 

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Fig.3. A representation of Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model of development



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The Last Leg Adam Hills

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 23 Dec 2012, 06:30

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The Last Leg Adam Hills stand up on TV Thursday 20th December

'If the Paralympics is covered well, it can change the way you look at and treat people with disabilities,' says Adam Hills, presenter of C4's late-night show The Last Leg

An evening with Adam Hills should be the opening presentation on the module H810 Accessible Online Learning - for a start we'd have to ditch the term 'disabled' for something else - these kinds of labels and tags have had their day.

Live at the Lyric

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Filling up your mindscape

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'The power of images is very great and it can be harnessed as many interpreters of fairy tales in pictures and on film have understood'. Marina Warner

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Fig.1. David Hockney - Etchings for Grimms Fairy Tales

'What's the use of a book without illustrations?' Ask Marina Warner reading from Alice in Wonderland.

A question she goes on to answer. To mark the bicentenary of the first edition of the Grimm brothers' Children's and Household Tales in 1812 Marina Warner explores the many compelling and often controversial aspects of the tales in this BBC Radio 4 Series. Marina%2520Warner%25201.JPG

Fig.2. Marina Warner

These evocative stories have always stirred vivid images in the minds of artists, from the angular drawings of an early David Hockney to Dickens' Victorian illustrator George Cruikshank. Through these artists' impressions, we paint a new picture of the tales' vital contribution to the long tradition of visual storytelling.

  • What do the artists add to our understanding of these stories?
  • What is the value of illustration and art direction in narrative, from books to film?
  • How do we impact on a person's memory of the story?
  • What role therefore do impactful images have on a learning experience?
  • What remembered images do the conjure up?
  • Why do artists chose and crystallize certain moments?

"Filling up your mindscape"

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Fig.3. David Hockney - Etchings for Grimms Fairy Tales

'The pot is winking ... brimming with poisonous menace, the banal hold terrible'.

You should attract then hold the attention of your audience - these may be readers, listeners or students, but you have to be sensitive to the craft skills of storytelling. It requires a good deal to keep the mind alert.

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H810 Activity 35 Chapter 12 Tutor Forum Response

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 May 2014, 13:25

Hi Adam, yes I agree that 'responsibility' comes up and that is what I come across even before people start to look at the tools - eyes glaze over on the discovery that there are many tools and lengthy guidelines and they'll conclude that it is potentially not worth the effort for them or the client ... in certain contexts - sports have strict guidelines relating to accessibility, as do places of education ... workplace education is another matter and I sometimes wonder if people just don't think there could possibly be anyone in their workforce who could have a disability that would prevent them using the internet ... otherwise how could they do their job. A number of charities have paid for an insightful video that introduces the viewer to a dozen or so people with disabilities in the workplace to understand where assistance and support comes from. We should remember that many have been on top of this themselves, often being early adopters of the technology for the benefits it brings to them - they don't need help necessarily, but could probably show you a few things if you need to personalise a browser.

I've had an incling that Engestrom has something interesting to say and I've misquoted him and convinced people that it means x, when it actually means y with no one wanting to correct me. As I indicated above to Christopher I wanted to crack this once and for all, especially as I am in the final weeks of the MAODE.

This therefore is essential reading. Find a case history that you might be familiar with and take it from there. These are thorough case studies from beginnign to end of consultancy like projects he and his team have undertaken for, amongst others, a TV production company, a court, a regional health service in Finland - so hospitals, specialist clincs and GP surgeries ... courts and think and several others.

Engeström.Y (2008) From Teams to Knots: Activity-theoretical studies of Collaboration and Learning at Work. Learning in doing: Social, Cognitive & Computational Perspectives. Cambridge University Press. Series Editor Emeritus. John Seely Brown.

This brings it up to date.

Engeström.Y (2011) Learning by expanding: ten years after (last accessed 19 Dec 20-12) http://lchc.ucsd.edu/mca/Paper/Engestrom/expanding/intro.htm

My take on it includes drawing up an activity system on a large piece of board and adding some chess pieces - to get it into my head that all these nodes are people dealing with oither people even if they manifest themselves as tools or rules - someone wrote or designed them, and someone effectively holds the 'keys. Also to remind myself of the historical point of view .. a half eaten Toblerone.

Various manifestations of this in my Blog.

http://learn1.open.ac.uk/mod/oublog/viewpost.php?u=jv276&time=1355917285&post=0

If you want to share thoughts and have time to get your head around it do please get in touch. It is my hope that I can research, construct and use an Activity System for real. I just think it is a way to get inside a subject thoroughly to understand the actions that are working and those that are misfiring or getting stuck, blocked or shredded.

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H810 Using an Activity System to improve accessibility to e-learning by students with disabilities.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 20 Dec 2012, 09:45

 

H800%2520Tutor%2520Group%2520Conference%2520FEB-SEPT%25202011.JPG

Fig.1. The consequences of an activity system - loads of action. Here a tutor group over a period of 27 weeks. 'Activity' is represented by messages in a tutor forum. H810 is an Open University postgraduate course in Education. Technology-enhanced learning: practices and debates

Visualizing actions between people, concepts and things required more than words - models and metaphor start to create meaning.

Why use any model?

A model should be a well-founded visual simplification of an aspect of a complex reality that communicates its concept clearly, is based on thorough research, and is easily shared for feedback and review. Users should find that a model, like an experiment, is repeatable so that in time a body of work including case studies and a critique of the model builds credibility. A conceptual model such as an Activity System is ‘particularly useful when one wants to make sense of systemic factors behind seemingly individual and accidental disturbances, deviations, and innovations occurring in the daily practices of workplaces’. Engeström (2008:27)

Conole and Oliver (2011) mention four levels of description:

1. Flat vocabulary
2. More complex vocabulary
3. Classification schemas or models
4. Metaphors

The vocabularly is inevitable, though talking this through to an audience would be my prefered approach, so that with engagement reponse is invited. The models used here, from Vyogtsy and Leon'tev to Engestrom may appear familiar and set - they not. There is a group that likes to see everything 'triangulated' - diamonds and stars, though evident in the literature on education - maybe akin to complex rather than plain language. From models we move to various metaphors - and you are certain to have your own. While Engeström himself moves on to ideas of 'knotworking' and fluid, organic representations.

Engeström (1987) took a current model - that of Vygotsky (1978) and made it his own and has since offered a metaphor to explain it further.

Why use an Activity System?

Activity Systems derive from a century of analysis of the way people construct meaning (Vygotsky, 1978. Leon’tev, 1978) that later researchers applied not simply to how people think, but how groups of people (Engeström, 1987) act in collaborative ways.

 

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Fig.2. Application of Engeström’s (1987) systemic model of activity featured in Seale (2006)

There are two parts to an Activity System - upper and lower. The upper part is the triangle drawn to represent the interaction of Subject, Tools and Object.

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Fig. 3.  Vygotsky.L.S. (1978) from Mind in Society.

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Fig.4. The structure of a human activity system. Engeström 1987.

Historically this is where Vygotsky began in Moscow in the late 1920s (Fig.3) Engeström and others turned the experssion of Vygotsky's model the other way up. This split of upper and lower serves another purpose - Yrjö Engeström likens this expression of an activity system to an iceberg where the top triangle - Subject - Tools - Object is what we see, while the other actions, that give the system context - he added when developing Vygostky’s (1978) original model, are beneath the surface. Engeström. (2008:89). (Fig.4) It's worth remembering that Vygotsky was working on how people create meaning, while later thinkers have adapted this to help scrutinise how communities or groups of people, tools and sets of guidelines create (as Engeström puts it above, 'sense meaning' Engeström 1987).

When is the construction of an Activity System useful?

Engeström (2008:27) suggests that it is particularly useful ‘when one wants to make sense of systemic factors behind seemingly individual and accidental disturbances, deviations, and innovations occurring in daily practices of workplaces’. Someone needs to think it is necessary to study the status quo - perhaps because there is an awareness that something, somewhere is going wrong, or that there has been an actual downturn in business or collapse in profitability, or a desire simply to look at things in a different way to understand where improvements can be made, a change in policy and law, or a reinvented or renewed.

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Fig. 5. Engeström.Y (2008) From Teams to Knots: Activity-theoretical studies of Collaboration and Learning at Work.

Engeström (2008:207) suggests that there are five principles in relation to theories of activity systems.

  1. Object Orientation
  2. Mediation by tools and signs
  3. Mutual constitution of actions and activity
  4. Contradictions and deviations as source of change
  5. Historicity

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Fig. 6 A White Knight from a Lewis Chess Set (replica) playing the role of the Object - the purpose, motivation and idea behind the activity in the system through whom sense is made or an outcome is derived.

1) Object Orientation

The Object is a problem, the purpose, the motivation and opportunity - the modus operandi behind the activity. ‘Object orientation’ (Engeström 2008:222) is a crucial prerequisite of working with an activity system. In the context of accessible e-learning Seale (2006:165) creates an Activity System in which the object(ive) is ‘to make e-learning accessible for disabled students’. As an exercise considering its widest application this object definition suffers because the object is so broad it embraces a myriad of issues and circumstances, each word is open to interpretation - what, for example, is meant by ‘e-learning’, what is meant by ‘accessible’ by ‘disabled’ and by ‘student’. Rather than an object as an opportunity or goal as Seale uses, a fix, the desired outcome, is more likely to be found where, at least in the first instance, we identify a particular context and a tightly defined problem.

Not only that, but to contain the likelihood of ‘ruptures’ across the activity system clarity and agreement is required on the problem that needs to be fixed. In relation to accessibility to e-learning for students with disabilities there are multiple problems, many unique to a student with a particular disability or, where feasible and appropriate, a group that can be identified by the nature of their disability, for example, deaf students who are seen as, and many want to see themselves as a ‘minority language’ group. What is more, a disabled student may have several impairments and the degree to which these are a barrier to e-learning is fluid, perhaps ameliorating with treatment, or getting worse, transmogrifying, or simply being intermittent. As these are known issues that would cause problems or clashes within the activity system and prevent its working it seems futile to build an activity system on this basis - knowing that it will fail.

A problem well stated is a problem half-solved’. (Charles Kettering)

This may be an aphorism, but it rings true. Problem scoping is necessary but where a problem remains elusive, or is ‘messy’ rather than ‘tame’ (Rittel and Webber's 1973, Ackoff 1979, Ritchey 2011) a variety of creative problem solving techniques (VanGundy, 1988. Griggs, 1985). Knowing what the problem is enables innovation - identifying the problem and devising a fix, and in communications, where, for example, advertisers prepare a creative brief that begins by clearly identifying the problem.

‘Object orientation’ and in this context, problem definition and refinement, is the first in five principles set out by Engeström (2008:207) for using activity systems. The drive, purpose and motivation for all the actions between the six identified nodes depends on the object ‘that which is acted upon’. A key component of activity theory is the transformation of this object into an outcome i.e. to solve the problem. If solving a problem is the goal, and recognition of a successful enterprise undertaken, then all the more reason to get the definition of the object correct - the process can be repeated for different problems, at different scales and over time. Without absolute clarity over the object you may find that different people in the system have differing interpretations of what it is. Kuutti (1996) found that having more than one object under scrutiny was a reason for an activity system to fail.  An answer where there are two distinct problems may be to treat them as such and attach them to separate activity systems. Whilst for the sake of scrutiny it is necessary to isolate an activity system, they do of course interact - indeed it is by looking at how two activity systems interact that you may reveal how problems are solved or innovations produced. However, if the object is wrong, or ill-defined or ambiguous then the motives may be out of kilter and it would therefore be necessary to transform all of the components of the activity system, especially and including those at the bottom half of the ‘iceberg’. Engeström (2008:87)

DSC01603.JPG

Fig. 7. The black Queen from a Lewis Chess Set representing 'Tools'

2) Mediation by Tools and Signs

Tools might be evaluation and repair tools and assistive technologies, software or legislation, guidelines or staff development. Tools are a mediating factor between the Subject (student, lecturer, facilitator of the desire outcome) and the Object - the purpose of all this activity.

Tools play a significant role in the history of tackling accessibility issues, to undue, out do or transform resources or interpret platforms in a way that communicates their meaning offering some if not all the affordances of the tools as designed for students, who, having gained a place to study a degree  in Higher Education might be thought of as some the most able’, not simply the ‘able’.Tools in this role at the apex of the Activity System and can include guidelines and legislation where they are an applied ‘tool’ rather than a rule or standard. ‘ A functioning tool for the analysis of teams and organisations’. Engeström  (2008:229) Of course the category includes evaluation and repair tools, assistive technologies and software and equipment. Tools ‘mediate’ between the Subject - the facilitator of change through activity and the outcome of the activities - the Object. ‘To build a website that complies to level AAA’ may be achievable whilst ‘to make e-learning accessible for disabled students’ Seale (2006smile sounds like wishful thinking, rather ‘to build an e-learning module that when scrutinised by a representative range of people with dyslexia’ receives a grading of ‘satisfactory’ or above’. This would suggest the involvement therefore of dyslexic students in the testing of a navigation interface for the virtual learning environment as an ‘action’ between subject and object.

There is a particular congregation of ‘contradictions’ stemming from the relationship between Tools and both Subject and Object:

  1. The array of design and evaluation software applications (Seale, 2006)
  2. The mastery of external devices and tools of labour activity (Nardi, 1996)
  3. No rules of practice for use of that tool (Isscroft and Scanlan, 2002 )
  4. Tools that are overly prescriptive (Phipps et al, 2005)
  5. How do you choose from amongst such a plethora of tools?
  6. The context in which tools are introduced (Seale, 2006:160)

3) Mutual constitution of actions and activity

The links between each component - object, tool, subject and so on - should equate to a burst of electricity or perhaps a chemical induced response between a synapse and a neuron - Engestrom (2008) goes as far as to liken an activity system to a type of fungi - mycorrhizae like formation  Engestrom (1997).

 

Capture%2520Chondrus%2520Crispus%2520as%2520a%2520visualisation%2520of%2520a%2520Social%2520Media%2520Network.JPG

Fig.8. Mycorrhizae - one way Engeström sees an Activity System

An Activity System should be seen not as a concept of a static entity, but rather a living and growing thing. The actions, the double-arrows between each concept, are what gives an activity system structure  - it’s the management  of the disturbances, contradictions and conflicts along these lines of action that disturb effective flow where the role of an activity system comes in - identify then fix these and you move towards achieving the object orientation or outcome. Knorr-Cetina (2003) talks of 'flow architecture' and if neither of these concepts ring true for you in realtion to activity systems then Zerubavel (1997) talks of 'a mindscape' while Cussins (1992) talks of 'cogntive trails'.

4) Contradictions and deviations as source of change

I would have opted for Subject as the third issue, but reading Engeström made me think again. Subject, Tools, Object reduces the Activity System to the far simpler upturned triangle Vygotsky devised to explain how people create meaning (Vygotsky, 1978:86)  without further thought to the deeper and wider issues once learning is put in context, that Engeström (1987, 2008, 2011) added by broadening this way of showing how ‘meaning is created’ in the workplace by adding Rules, Community and Division of Labour.

Rather than picking one more of these concepts at the expense of leaving the others out I think that the ‘Actions’ the double arrows that indicate something happening between the elements is of interest. I believe this would be the fourth of Engeström's five principles - Contradictions and deviations as source of change. This after all is, literally, where all the ‘action’ takes place, what Seale (2006:164) describes as ‘problems, ruptures, breakdowns or clashes’.  (I need to go back and to understand what is meant by Engeström's third principle - ‘Mutual constitution of actions and activity’) I think this is the principle that the Activity System has to be seen as a complete, self-contained entity, that any break or failure or misunderstanding in the system would call it to fail so you’d be better of starting again from scratch until the scale or context works. Engeström uses the metaphor of a very particular kind of lichen (‘mycorrhizae’, Engeström, 2008:229) to describe Activity Systems - he doesn’t suggest however that you attempt to work with this kind of complexity, rather it is a reminder that an activity system is fluid and changing and depends on activity taking places between the defined nodes.

5) Historicity

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Fig. 9. A discontinuous series of Activity Systems ... like Toblerone at Christmas.

'Historicity' - Engeström's experssion (2008) - is a term referring to 'the historical actuality of persons and events',(Wikipedia, 2012) suggests the need to see an Activity System as a snapshot, a sequence and a discontinuous one at that. So take the familiar equilateral triangle of the Activity System model and run a line of them. Seale (2006) suggests there is value to be found by doing some 'archaelogy' - I think 'historical research' would be an adequate way to think of it, for what this may reveal about how these 'rupture, conflicts' Seale (ibid) or 'contraditions and devistions as a source or change' Engeström (2008:223) along the lines of activity. Seale (2006) talks of how an activity system 'incesstanly reconstructs itself. Engeström (1994) talks of an ideal-typical sequence of epistemic actgions in an expansive cycle.

Subject

By definition here the ‘non-disabled’, particularly in the cognitive sense though sometimes with athletic promise too. Ironically whilst ‘non-disabled’ is not a favoured term it does at least relate to a homogenous group, while ‘disabled’ does not given the range, scale and potentially shifting nature of impairments to learning from hearing, to visual, cognitive and mobility.

Subject to be of most importance - this is the person, actor or lecturer, indeed a student - anyone who is responsible for facilitating and supporting the student’s learning experience. This may be a practitioner who works with a Higher Education Learning Technologist or the digital media access group if there is such a thing. Engeström (2008:222).

Any of the team members may be a novice, which may be a positive or negative influence for the actions in the system. A novice is inexpert, on the other hand they are free from the habits that may be causing problems and creating barriers. Because of the way a novice learns they are more inclined to innovate as they are not bound or even aware to rules, guidelines and beliefs that may hold them back.

Rules

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Fig. 10 A collection of pawns from a Lewis Chess set representing 'Rules'

These can be formal, informal or technical rules. They are institutional and departmental policies and strategies. These are rules of practice, and legislation, as well as strategies and research. They are explicit and implicit norms. These are conventions and social relations. These in the context of accessible e-learning are the various guidelines related to web usability and legislation related to accessibility and equality. Universal Design and User Centred Design are rules too. Rules mediate between the subject and the community. The actions, the 'doing in order to transform something' or 'doing with a purpose' are the activities that link Rules with Subject, Rules with Object and Rules with Community.

Community

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Fig. 11. An Activity System represented by chess pieces.This 'Community' comprises the King and two bishops from replica of the Lewis Chess Set.

These are 'people who share the same objective' - their being in this activity system is dependent on their wishing to engage with the object, the opportunity, to strive to achieve the stated outcome. Any ruptures are therefore not a consequence of having the wrong person in this community - this grouping, this loose gathering of like-minded people, is what Engestrom has come to describe as a knot and the actions these people take as 'knotworking' Engeström (2008:194) - latent, informal, sometimes impromptu gatherings of people who assemble to address a problem or to take an opportunity - what Rheingold (2002) describes as 'smart mobs'.

Division of Labor (sic)This concept, or node as an ethereal entity is 'how people are organized to realise the object'. Not one to represent by a chess piece and one may think that this ought to be the link that joins people together ... this is where working with a model as the beat of a heart, not the heart itself, requires acceptance of the way a model is designed to work. Division of labor (US spelling for a Finnish academic ... who has bases in Helsinki and San Diego). This is planning and funding, designing and developing, implementing and evaluating, using, specialists vs. the mainstream).

Conclusion

Digitization of assets is akin to the creation of an ocean in which the binary code are the molecules of water - apt then with the shift from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 and our adopting the use of ‘the Cloud’ and ‘Cloud Computing’ to take this metaphor into a more dynamic form and think of it as a water-cycle. This system is shifting continually horizontally with currents and tides, but also vertically - the exponential growth in computing speeds and memory capacities the energy that drives the system. This global system hasn’t taken adequate account of people with disabilities - as in the real world there are barriers to access caused by visual, hearing, mobility and cognitive impairments - just as these have been addressed in a piecemeal way through legislation, funding, programmes and promotions, by disability groups or holistically, so too with adaptations or changes to the digital world - there is no panacea that will remove all barriers for all people with any disability, of any kind, type or stage of deterioration or amelioration.  Stretching the metaphor further I wonder if at times this digital water-cycle, again like the real one, is polluted, that translucence as well as flotsam and jetsam in this ocean are the barriers - on the one hand the pollutants have to be removed - the barriers taken down - but at the same time, cleaner purer water, in the form a universal design that is simpler and usable would gradually cleanse some of system. Once again, a mirror to the real world responses, specialist schools and associations, say for those with dyslexia are blind or deaf, become an oasis or island in this digital system. 

‘Those not engaging with technologies or without access are getting left further and further behind. We need to be mindful that the egalitarian, liberal view of new technologies is a myth; power and dynamics remain, niches develop and evolve. Applications of metaphorical notions of ecology, culture and politics can help us better understand and deal with these complexities'. (Conole. 2011:410)

FURTHER  READING

Cecez-Kecmanovic, Dubravka, and Webb.C (2000) "Towards a communicative model of collaborative web-mediated learning."Australian Journal of Educational Technology 16. 73-85. Towards a communicative model of collaborative web-mediated learning  (last accessed 20 Dec 2012) http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet16/cecez-kecmanovic.html

Hardman, J (2008) Researching pedagogy: an acitivty system approach Journal of Education, No. 45, 2008. PP65-95 (last accessed 20 Dec)  2012 http://joe.ukzn.ac.za/Libraries/No_45_Dec_2008/Researching_pedagogy_an_Activity_Theory_approach.sflb.ashx)

Engeström’s (1999) outline of three generations of activity theory (last accessed 20 Dec 2012) http://www.bath.ac.uk/research/liw/resources/Models%20and%20principles%20of%20Activity%20Theory.pdf

Engeström.Y (2008) From Teams to Knots: Activity-theoretical studies of Collaboration and Learning at Work. Learning in doing: Social, Cognitive & Computational Perspectives. Cambridge University Press. Series Editor Emeritus. John Seely Brown.

Engeström.Y (2011) Learning by expanding: ten years after (last accessed 19 Dec 20-12) http://lchc.ucsd.edu/mca/Paper/Engestrom/expanding/intro.htm

REFERENCE

Ackoff, R.L. (1979) The Art of Problem-Solving, New York: Wiley

Conole, G (2011) Designing for learning in a digital world. Last accessed 18 Dec 2012 http://www.slideshare.net/grainne/conole-keynote-icdesept28

Conole, G. and Oliver, M. (eds) 2007 Contemporary Perspectives on E-learning Research, Themes, Tensions and Impacts on Research. London, RoutledgeFalmer.

Cussins, A. (1992). Content, embodiment and objectivity: The theory of cognitive trails. Mind, 101, 651–688.

Engestrom (2008-04-30). From Teams to Knots (Learning in Doing: Social, Cognitive and Computational Perspectives) (p. 238). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

Engeström, Y. (1987) Learning by Expanding: An Activity-theoretical Approach to Developmental Research. Helsinki: Orienta-Konsultit.

Engeström, Y. (1994). The working health center project: Materializing zones of proximal
development in a network of organizational learning. In T. Kauppinen & M. Lahtonen (Eds.) Action research in Finland. Helsinki: Ministry of Labour.

Engeström.Y (1999) Learning by expanding. Ten Years After. http://lchc.ucsd.edu/mca/Paper/Engestrom/expanding/intro.htm

Engeström.Y (2008) From Teams to Knots: Activity-theoretical studies of Collaboration and Learning at Work. Learning in doing: Social, Cognitive & Computational Perspectives. Cambridge University Press. Series Editor Emeritus. John Seely Brown.

Griggs, R.E. (1985) 'A Storm of Ideas', reported in Training, 22, 66 (November)

Issroff, K. and Scanlon, E. (2002) Using technology in higher education: an Activity Theory perspective. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 18, 1, 77–83

Knorr-Cetina, K. (2003). From pipes to scopes: The flow architecture of financial markets. Distinktion, 7, 7–23.

Kuutti, K. (1996) Activity theory as a potential framework for human–computer interaction research. In B. Nardi (ed.) Context and Consciousness: Activity Theory and Human–Computer Interaction. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, pp. 17–44.

Leon’tev.A.N. (1978) Activity, consciousness, and personality. Englewood Cliffs. NJ. Prentice-Hall.

Moessenger, S (2011) Sylvia’s Study Blog (Last accessed 19 Dec 2012) http://sylviamoessinger.wordpress.com/2011/02/26/h809-reading-oliver-et-al-chapter-2-a3-6/

Phipps, L., Witt, N. and Kelly, B. (2005) Towards a pragmatic framework for accessible e-learning. Ariadne, 44. Online. Available HTTP: <http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/ issue44/ phipps/> (last accessed 19 Dec 2012).

Rheingold, H. (2002). Smart mobs: The next social revolution. Cambridge, MA: Perseus.

Ritchey, T. (2011) Wicked Problems - Social Messes: Decision support Modelling with Morphological Analysis.Springer.

Rittel.W.J., Webber.M.M. (1973) Dilemmas in a general theory of planning Policy Sciences, June 1973, Volume 4, Issue 1,

Seale, J. (2006) E-learning and Disability in Higher Education: Accessibility Research and Practice

VanGundy, A.B. (1988) Techniques of Structured Problem Solving, 2nd ed, Van Norstrand Reinhold. Techniques 4.01, 4.06, 4.57

Vygotsky.L.S. (1978) Mind in Society. The development of higher psychological process. Cambridge. MA.

Wikipedia (2012) Definition of 'Historicity' - (last accessed 19 Dec 2012) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historicity

Zerubavel, E. (1997). Social mindscapes: An invitation to cognitive sociology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

 

 

 

 

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H810 - Navigation Tips for students with visual impairments

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 4 Jan 2013, 16:50

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Fig.1. Google Docs help center - navigation

I was looking for a way to an an Umlaut to the name 'Engestrom' in Google Docs help but instead stumble upon something far more valuable in relation to access to e-learning for students with disabilities - navigation short cuts. These apply to how a person with sight impairment might move through a text and so, like basic web usability, informs on best practice when it comes to writing, proof reading and lay-out, i.e. editing with a reader with a visual impairment in mind.

Somehow the clear way the guide is laid out caused the penny to drop in a way that hasn't occurred in the last three months however many times I have observed, listened to, read about or tried to step into the shows of a student with a visual impairment.

Web usability recommends a way of laying out text that is logical, clear and suited to the screens we use to access content from the web. This logic of headings and multiple sub-headings, let alone plain English in relation to short sentences as well as use of paragraphs makes reading not only easier for those with no disability, but assists those with varies degrees of visual impairment as content is then better able to respond to standard tools of text enlargement and enhancement, but also of screen readers that work best when reading through text.

What assistive technology does, a control that doesn't require a mouse and keeps a manageable set of keys under the fingers rather than needing to run back and forth across the keyboard, is to reduce the above commands to actions that a visually impaired or blind person can then use to control their web viewing experience.

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H810 : Conflicts in an Activity System

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 May 2014, 13:23

Fig. 1 Seale (2008) chapter 12 on activity systems in relation to accessibility in e-learning as an Activity System

The six potential areas of conflict Seal identifies occur, from the Activity System, between:

  1. Objects and tools - if we agree that the tools currently available are weak (or too many of them, or too specialist or too expensive)
  2. Objects and division of labour - a fragmented division of labour that is pulling the different stakeholders apart and preventing them from working together to meet the objective.
  3. Community and division of labour - a contradiction could be perceived to exist between community and division of labour if the rules that the community develop divide labour in such a way as to mitigate against the objective of the activity being achieved
  4. Community and rules - a conflict with the community whether guidelines are seen as tools or rules. A contradiction may be perceived to occur between community and rules where the community cannot agree on the rules and how they should be applie
  5. Rules and subject - where the rules or guidelines are not specific to the object, or difficulties in interpreting the results having used tools. A contradiction may be perceived to occur between the rules and the subject where the rules are non-existent, weak or inconsistent and so not good enough to enable the users of the rules (subjects) to meet the objective of the activity.
  6. Tools and subject - If the subjects of an activity system are unable to use the tools in the way they were intended, then conflict or contradiction may occur.

There are a further 8 discussed tangetially in relation to the Activity System, some within individual nodes. In total the full list looks like this:

  1. The array of design and evaluation software applications
  2. The mastery of external devices and tools of labour activity (Naardi 1996)
  3. No rules of practive for use of that tool (Iscorft and Scanlon)
  4. Tools that are overly prescriptive (Phipps et al 2005)
  5. How do you choose a tool?
  6. The context in which tools are introduced (Seale, 2006:160)
  7. The array of guidelines and standards and lack of information on how to use these.
  8. Constraints caused by formal, informal and technical  rules and concentions of community (Seale, 2006:161)
  9. A framework for desscribing current practice both individual and social (Seale, 2006:160)
  10. More than one object (Kuutti, 1996)
  11. When different but conntected activities ahre an object or an artefact but place a very different emphasis on it (McAviia and Oliver, 2004)
  12. Conflict over who does what within 'Divisions of Labour'
  13. Novice or expert ... good thing or bad? The novice is more likely to be the innovator - if brought in from outside the system, while the expert in the system may be too set in the ways of the 'community'.
  14. Excuses about the lack of information. Steyaert (2005)

I like Seale's concluding remarks - Subject and object, object and community, subect and community - Contradiction in any or all of the relationships described in the previous section has the potential to threaten the central relationships between object and community, subject and object and subject and community.

And the over all thought:

‘Design for all’ probably requires a commitment to ‘design by all’.

According to Activity Theory, any or all of the contradictions will prevent accessible e-learning practice from developing and therefore accessible e-learning will not develop or progress unless these contradictions are resolved.

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Activity Systems are repeated, uneven and discontinuos

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 17 Dec 2012, 17:51

DSC06465.JPG

Fig.1. Activity Systems as a chronological, though broken sequence. Fruit & Nut Toblerone (Kuutti 1996)

To understand Activity Systems I produce tables and charts - I annotate these then revise initial drawings until I have something that is clear. I may fill several sheets. My conviction is that Activty Systems have a great deal to offer when it comes to trying to understand how actions are playing out, producing contradictions and confict.

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Fig.2. A detail from an annotation of the Activity Sytem I am working on in relation to accessibility and e-learning.

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Fig. 3. Detail showing where the idea of the half-eaten Toblerone came from. An Activity System has to be seen as a broken chronology of Activity Systems.

REFERENCE

Engeström, Y (2008) From Teams to Knots. Activity-theorerical studies of Collaboration and Learning at Work. Learning in doing: Social, Cognitive & Computational Perspectives. Cambridge University Press. Series Editor Emeritus. John Seely Brown.

Kuutti, K. (1996) Activity theory as a potential framework for human–computer interaction research. In B. Nardi (ed.) Context and Consciousness: Activity Theory and Human–Computer Interaction. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, pp. 17–44

Seale, J. (2006) E-learning and Disability in Higher Education: Accessibility Research and Practice

 

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H810 : Accessibility in e-learning as an activity system

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 4 Jan 2013, 16:32

Engestroms%2520systems%2520model%2520of%2520activity.JPG

Fig. 1 Seale (2008) chapter 12 on activity systems in relation to accessibility in e-learning as an Activity System

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Fig. 2 From the chapter - annotations, animation and notes

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Fig.3 Another way of looking at Activity Systems 1

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<Fig.4 Another way of looking at Activity Systems 3

REFERENCE

Engeström , Y (2008) From Teams to Knots. Activity-theoretical studies of Collaboration and Learning at Work. Learning in doing: Social, Cognitive & Computational Perspectives. Cambridge University Press. Series Editor Emeritus. John Seely Brown.

Kuutti, K. (1996) Activity theory as a potential framework for human–computer interaction research. In B. Nardi (ed.) Context and Consciousness: Activity Theory and Human–Computer Interaction. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, pp. 17–44.

Seale, J. (2006) E-learning and Disability in Higher Education: Accessibility Research and Practice

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Access to work

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 May 2014, 11:31

Access to work 

Site Improve 

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The Loving Ballad of Captain Bateman

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 14 Dec 2012, 11:28

Golshifteh%2520Farahan%25201.JPG

Sometimes you have to stop the car and listen

Captain Stewart Bateman is badly wounded in Afghanistan. Sofia gives him shelter and you know they will fall in love ... but with the British Captain in their home Sofia and her father face retributions from the Taliban for harbouring him or from the British army for keeping him prisoner. Sofia's father is about to sell him to the Taliban when ...

Well, that's when I stopped the car - all I could see was a movie playing out in my mind. It was unsafe to drive.

Listen HERE - or Google 'BBC Radio 4 The loving Ballad of Captain Bateman'.

Lines I like 'They say Afghanistan is made of the bits God had left over after making the rest of the world'. Reply: 'Sounds like Killingworth'.

Writer: Joseph Wilde

Music: Tim van Eyken

You've got 6 DAYS LEFT TO LISTEN from today Friday 14th December

Then what happens? Is it archived? Do you download a podcast ... or wait for the movie or TV series.
First broadcast:
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Fighting for a child with autism to attend a school with small class sizes

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 12 Dec 2012, 11:29

In the US laws in relation to provision of appropriate learning for students with disabilities applies to the individual's needs. In this case the Supreme Court eventually upheld the parents of an autistic child's decission to use private education. (i.e. enforceable Civil Rights)

http://specialedpost.com/2012/11/29/courts-uphold-rule-that-fape-must-mean-smaller-class-size/

In the UK the law relates to provision of appropriate accommodations by an education authority. The challenge for appropriate provision is therefore with the authority's to provide rather than with the individual needs of the child to be met. So to accommodate a student with severe mobility impairments the authority would be found to be wanting if it couldn't provide.

Such an issue would play out differently in the UK - provision would have to be made by an education authority in their region and a decission taken centrally whether to accommodate a particular student with disability in a mainstream or specialist school. Policy and provision would be different from region to region leading to what we call the 'post code lottery'.

The interplay between institutions treats the student like a ball that they too often drop, or don't even bother with - policy being what matters rather than the person.

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Design for everybody

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 May 2014, 11:33

Design for everybody from BBH with the voice of Stephen Hawking.

 

 

 

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H810 : Activity 32 Blogs on accessibility and disability in learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 4 Jan 2013, 19:02

BLOGS ON ACCESSIBILITY

Disability in business

http://disabilityinbusiness.wordpress.com/
Jonathan, who has a degenerative spinal condition which means he uses a wheelchair and has carers to assist him, has first hand experience of the challenges faced by people living with disabilities – especially in the business world. “I used to run multi-million pound companies and I’d go with some of my staff into meetings with corporate bank managers and they’d say to my staff, ‘it’s really good of you to bring a service user along’, and I’d say, ‘hang on, I’m the MD –  it’s my money!’ 

Disability Marketing

http://drumbeatconsulting.com/

Michael Janger has a passionate interest in products and technologies that enable people with disabilities to enjoy a better quality of life, and works with businesses to effectively market and sell these products to the disability market.

Think Inclusive

http://www.thinkinclusive.us/start-here/
I think there are two basic assumptions that you need in order support inclusion (in any context)

  1. All human beings are created equal (you know the American way) and deserve to be treated as such.
  2. All human beings have a desire to belong in a community and live, thrive and have a sense of purpose.

The important takeaway…when you assume people want to belong. Then is it our duty as educators, parents, and advocates to figure out how we can make that happen.

Institute of Community Inclusion

http://www.youtube.com/communityinclusion
For over 40 years, the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) has worked to ensure that people with disabilities have the same opportunity to dream big, and make their dreams a fully included, integrated, and welcomed reality. ICI strives to create a world where all people with disabilities are welcome and fully included in valued roles wherever they go, whether a school, workplace, volunteer group, home, or any other part of the community. All of ICI's efforts stem from one core value: that people with disabilities are more of an expert than anyone else. Therefore, people with disabilities should have the same rights and controls and maintain lives based on their individual preferences, choices, and dreams.

Cerebral Palsy Career Builders

http://www.cerebral-palsy-career-builders.com/discrimination-definition.html

How to deal with the following:

  1. Bias
  2. Presumption
  3. Myth
  4. Skepticism
  5. Prejudice
  6. Discrimination
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H810 Activity 31.4 Benefits of mobile learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 14 Dec 2012, 05:49

Is learning support by text messaging mobile learning?

Must it be a smart-phone. I would have called taking an Apple Classic into the garden on an extension cable and using it in a cardboard box to shield it from the sun as mobility of some kind - indeed development of the use of laptops in the last 15 years has been mobile and in 1997 I shot a training video for the RAC on a roadside device called ‘hardbody’ that was a navigational tool to locate the breakdown, a database of parts, a diagnostic for fault finding and fixing and a way for customers to pay.

The prospects for and possibilities of mobile computing have been known for a long time.

Getting them into the hands of students has taken longer as prices have fallen and broadband made readily available.

Was a cassette on a Sony Walkman mobile learning, or more recently is something from iTunes U on an MP3 player mobile e-learning? Yes, surely if its function is educational or it is resource tailored for a specific module.

  1. Convenience and flexibility - the university in your pocket. Ditch the folders, files and print outs.
  2. Relevance - situated
  3. Learner control - mine (personalised Apps, choice of phone and case ...)
  4. Good use of 'dead time' - on the bus, train, passenger in car ... in bed, in front of TV, on the loo or in the bath.
  5. Fits many different learning styles - short burst or lengthier intense periods
  6. Improves social learning (i.e. Communicating with peers and experts)
  7. Encourages reflection - easy to take notes (audio as dictaphone or text)
  8. Easy evidence collection - photos and audio (screen grabs from online research), tag finds.
  9. Supported decision making
  10. Speedier remediation - instant
  11. Improved learner confidence
  12. Easily digestible learning - where 'chunked' though this should be a choice where content has been suitably prepared for web usability.
  13. Heightened engagement - feeds alerts that can be responded to in a timely fashion. Makes synchronous and quasi-synchronous forum feedback possible.
  14. Better planning for face-to-face - organiser, contactable 24/7 (almost)
  15. Great for induction - keeping in touch, easy to ask questions, familiar, universal and everyday.
  16. Elimination of technological barriers - basic, intuitive, commonplace.
  17. Designed once then delivered across multiple platforms - responsive design (using HTML 5)
  18. Easily trackable via wifi - and GPS
  19. Cost-effective build
  20. A means to recoup money
  21. Technology advances with Apps
  22. Technology advances with interface, voice command and other tools.
  23. Everything in one place, including TV, radio, podcasts, photogallery ...
  24. Assistive technology - add a micro-projector, wifi-keyboard, sync to other devices such as tablet, laptop and desktop, augmented learning ...
  25. Replacement technology - starting to replace money, already replacing cameras, MP3 players, address book, organiser, games console, remote control, torch, dictaphone ... pen and paper, art pad ...

(In part from Dr Chris Davies, Head of the e-learning research group, Oxford Prof. John Traxler, Prof. Of Mobile Learning (2011 )

http://www.epicbrasil.com/assets/files/Mobile_learning_NHS_Research_Report.pdf

(last accessed 10 Dec 2012)

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Vegetative patient Scott Routley says 'I'm not in pain'

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 10 Dec 2012, 21:08

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Fig.1. Using scanning a doctor communicates with Scott Routley  who has been in a coma for over ten years (BBC, 2012)

Using scanning a doctor communicates with Scott Routley who has been in a coma for over ten years (BBC, 2012)

Invaluable to this patient but opening all kinds of possibilities in relation to responding to a stimulus through thought alone.

If this patient 'learns' how to communicate further than this surely is technology enhanced learning on the very out fringes of the extreme. In practice an engineer might describe this as 'testing to destruction' - lessons are learnt from such cases.

See more on Panorama http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01ny377

Asked to think about the future of learning and for disabled students in particular, I couldn't help but consider the most extreme forms of e-learning with severely disabled patients - those beyond our reach the 'brain dead' while those in a vegative state coming within reach - and is this state is one we go into under general anaesthetic, one from which a person does occassionally recover.

Coma%25206.JPG

Fig.2. A new brain scanner helps completely paralysed people to spell words

I don't want to be a guinea-pig in such a set up, but what if having been kept 'alive' say after a car accident I tell those who have stirred me to communicate that I wish I had died on the roadside all those years ago? Do they remove the technology and well me into a side room until I die of natural causes decades later? (This was the scenario in a black and white ante-war movie of the 1930s ... I think. Recall the detail of the film and would love its name if you know it).

I don't mean to be flippant, but could this technology be used to talk with animals ... or give us the sense that we are ? If attached to such devices in our sleep, might dream actions be turned into real ones?

Coma%25205.JPG

Fig.3. Real-life Jedi: Pushing the limits of mind control (BBC 2012) Last accessed 10 Dec 2012

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-15200386

And who gets there hands on this extremely expensive kit? Anyone willing to be a guinea-pig? The children of billionaires? Or in time - everyone with a need.

If in your 90s you are reduced to this state could you or would you want to extend life if it could be enriched in this way? Pushing humans into a stage that is more than just one foot in the grave - you are, in every sense, living as if buried alive? And if this could be realistically be sustained for decades?

Depends on the person I suppose.

 

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Insanity is banging your head against a brick wall - try a pillow, or a pane of glass instead

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 10 Dec 2012, 16:25

Einstein.JPG

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Albert Einstein.

Where do you come across this? Is it you? Or someone you know? How do you get out of the rut and into the grove? Surely Einstein was describing most people?

To solve a messy or intractable problem often doing something differently or doing something else or different can help find the answer.

But how often do we fall back on or get drawn into old ways?

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Simplicity in all things - less to go wrong

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 9 Dec 2012, 22:12

Einstein%25202.JPG

Over three months of H810 Accessible Online Learning and I'm reducing the lessons I've learnt to a few words - simplicity is one of them. Why? Might be the second - e-learning that does stuff because it can but is the equivalent to turning the Yellow Pages into a pop-up book with a scratch card for smell might win a pitch, but will it work in the ling term?

 

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Do we use more than 20% of our brains?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 9 Dec 2012, 15:02

Asked this by my 14 year old son. He was a captive audience as I drove him 45 minutes to a footie march - I hope he didn't regret asking. I questioned any statistic that ended in zero and wondered if out of 100 billion neurons we ever used more than 2% of our brains - I doubted that we'd use all our brain if we lived a thousand years, in any case what we remember and how we remember it always changes. Earlier I'd told him how we'd 'wing it' in terms of finding the location for his match saying I'd remember how to get there once we got close - which is exactly how it played out.

I mentioned the App 'One Second a Day' and Microsoft Research into digitising everything. He's now warming up; I am left to reflect.

Recall in 3d is easier that a map or the written word - how would I have given someone else directions through the minor roads of West Sussex? Had I used a Google Self-Drive car last week - or been a passenger, my memory would have been different too. Is this the mistake 'we' are making in e-learning? Believing that a self-drive learning journey is better? Can something be too easy? I've done mandatory health and safety training as a part of compliance, clicking through video, animations and mutlichoice on a laptop 'til I passed. A manager could tick a box, and they would be covered for insurance but how in reality might I perform as a consequence of this 'learning' - surely that depends on how my perceptions and understanding of the learning translates into a real situation. Can you prepare customers for the evacuation of a sinking ship by getting them to do some e-learning - however immersive?

My son has seen a film called 'Limitless' in which the protagonist takes a pill and can then access 100% of their mind - he uses this in a bit of detective work by all accounts. My son said that someone who could or did remember everything committed suicide.

It's about time I revisted 'The Contents if My Brain' - a 90 minute screenplay effort on the subject, but like 'limitless' give it the one word catchy title and Hollywood treatment. US President stores the contents of his brain in case of all eventualities - assasinated this version of him continues to govern ... whith consequences etc: Title 'Back Up' or some such.

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H810 : Activity 30.1 E-learning - key roles for implementation

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 9 Dec 2012, 08:15

Review and discussion

Thinking back to Topics 25 (academic perspectives) to Topic 29 (management perspectives), what role or roles do you recognise from your experience?

  • What roles do you have in common?
  • To what extent do your roles and perspectives overlap?
  • Are any differences because your organisations are of different types or are they because people in the organisations have different priorities?

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Over the last decade I have come full circle, from the belief that the future lay in self-directed gamified e-learning where everything is managed and monitored by the system - even if an avatar is thrown in to make it appear human. (There is current activity doing exactly this - creating avatars to play the role of tutor - perhaps to serve millions of new learners this will serve a purpose!)

The goal I feel should be recreation, where students want it, of the Oxbridge model of tutorial - at least at graduate and post-graduate levels - where the tutor plays a key role as intermediary. 'Where the students want it' implies choice - so in truth a smorgasbord at every step, not just the way a module is presented, but how material is tackled topic by topic. I've reviewed platforms that have the look and feel of a games arcade - resplendent with hyper-gamified activities at every stage - this for me does more than simply exclude the disabled student, it also presumes in error that all learners have or desire this mindset. They do not. Where we have choice I think we do incline to the verbal, auditory or kinaesthetic - I also believe that our moods and inclinations, and especially experience, tip us to one model over another. All this spells out 'C H O I C E' not constraints in the conduits of a gamified series of funnels and tunnels.

The OU may not get the attention of the e-learning awards panel, but they have a more important responsibility to hundreds of thousands of students, tens of thousands of ALs ... and a few thousand staff.

  • A champion - whomsoever this may be someone needs to make accessibility a cause
  • A leader - perhaps an innovator and entrepreneur, someone who can galvanise others into action, raise the funds, assemble a team and get the most out of them.
  • Disabled student representatives - not a token person in a wheelchair, but genuine engagement and involvement from various disabled group communities i.e. involving in particular a student or former student with experience of learning as a disabled person from the 'communities' that include hearing, sight, mobile and cognitive impairments.
  • Legal advice - much e-learning is now offered on a global platform. Laws differ, but it will reach the point where disabled students wise-up to their rights and how to press for them. This isn't about interpreting the law to reduce risk and get away with doing as little as possible, it is about ensuring that the 'bar' where it is currently placed, is reached.
  • Professional Managers - team players. Some educational practices have to change - the lone educator devising their own content for a prescribed curriculum greatly reduces both the greater use of readily available resources and their creation and management on accessible platforms. Even entrepreneurs and those with marketing and communications skills in order to compete in a global market for education provision.
  • E-learning design - experienced and qualified people who have a good understanding of how to construct e-learning, if necessary with people who have a theoretical and/or a technical background and awareness. Personally I would have a minimum of FOUR people representing the following skills: learning theory, e-learning technologies (programmer), visualisation (design in its broadest meaning in relation to functionality as well as look) and the subject matter expert - not necessarily to write original content, but certainly to curate resources where they are readily available and to tailor them to a specific audience's learning needs.
  • Research - it helps to have someone dedicated to knowing where we are with the technology and resources, in this instance with a specialism relating to assistive technology (software and hardware).

To be continued ...

Please add to this mix. If we could or had to create an e-learning platform from scratch who would you want on your team. Put this in your context - say creative writing, or civil engineering, language learning or health care. In the IDEAL e-learning world who would be in it and how would the mix work?

  • IT - there need to be people, a department even, that knows how to make IT sing and keeping it robust, up to date, compliant, reliable and secure.
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Are we too easily seduced?

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I am in all things, though I'm hardly the only one. I came into web design from video production to create rich, video-based interactive content - once the industry got over the indulgence the reality should be and can be more every day. We don't need a RollsRoyce to go to the supermarket, nor do we need Jaws 3 in 3D to give compliance e-learning on health and safety of a water company. I got this thinking from the founder of iRobots.
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H818 - The Networked Practitioner - New for Autumn 2013

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 21 Oct 2014, 07:50

Fig. 1. The Digital Scholar

Martin Weller's Digital Scholar becomes the basis for H818 - The Networked Practitioner

This new e-learning module from the Open University uses Martin Weller’s book The Digital Scholar is part of a wide range of open access material used for the module and Martin is one of the authors of the module content.

Chapter 1 - Read it here on the Bloomsbury website

Over the last couple of years I have said how much I would like to 'return' to the traditional approach to graduate and postgraduate learning - you read a book from cover to cover and share your thinking on this with fellow students and your tutor - perhaps also a subject related student society.

Why know it if it works?

Fig. 2. The backbone of H810 Accessible Online Learning is Jane Seale's 2006 Book.

Where the author has a voice and authority, writes well and in a narrative form, it makes for an easier learning journey - having read the Digital Scholar participants will find this is the case.

As in the creation of a TV series or movie a successful publication has been tested and shows that there is an audience.

The research and aggregation has been done - though I wonder if online exploiting a curated resource would be a better model? That e-learning lends itself to drawing upon multiple nuggets rather than a single gold bar.

There are a couple of caveats related to this tactic:

  1. Keeping the content refreshed and up to date. Too often I find myself reading about redundant technologies - the solution is to Google the cited author and see if they have written something more current - often, not surprisingly from an academic, you find they have elaborated or drilled into a topic they have made their own in the last 18 months.
  2. Lack of variety. Variety is required in learning not simply to avoid the predictable - read this, comment on this, write an assignment based on this ... but this single voice may not be to everyone's liking. Can you get onto their wave length? If not, who and where are the alternative voices?

 

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