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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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What communicating with a person in a vegetative state can do for e-learning

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The self-drive car will allow those with sight, mobility and other disabilities to travel when and where they want for the first time - had accessibility laws been enforced 100 years ago how far would cars have got? The self-drive computer is a decade away - this is a computer controlled by the user's thoughts - something already trialled by communicating with people in a vegatitive state - will this be the ultimate degree of accessibility? Legislation and policy sets the bar overwhich institutions must step - this bar should be raised constantly to strive to keep not too far behind what is possible. From time to time it would be valuable for someone to reach way beyond, this will be achieved by working with disabled students, the case of the patient in a vegative state the most extreme example - knowledge gained in that extreme example offering insights that could be used in the general population and of course with people who are far less disabled than this extreme.
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Lego Education

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 4 Jan 2013, 19:37

Bill%2520Furniss%2520%252B%2520UKCC3%25208NOV08%25201.jpg

Fig.1. Coach training with Bill Furniss, Nottingham

The Amateur Swimming Association, who train all our swimming teachers and coaches up to the highest level through the Institue of Swimming, have a hundred or so Open Learn like modules that take typically 2-3 hours to do including things like 'Coaching Disabled Athletes' and 'Working with athletes with learning difficulties'. And other important refresher modules such as child protection.

Paralympics%2520LEXI%2520C4%2520SNIP.JPG

Fig.2. Learning for disabled students needs to be tailored to their specific needs

As we have now seen on H810 : Accessible Online Learning - far more so than in the general population, there are specific and complex needs. The general disability awareness for sport says, 'see the ability not the disability, play to their strengths' - as a coach you have to identify strengths from weaknesses.

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Fig.3. Using an endless pool to examine swimming technique

Once you are working with an athlete then you find you need more specific knowledge on a, b, or c - which might be an amputee, someone with cerebral palsy, or no hearing. Each person is of course very different, first as a person (like us all), then in relation to the specifics of their disability so a general course for tutors and teachers then becomes a waste of time.

Lego%2520Learning%2520Institute%25201.JPG

Fig.4. Lego Education using Lego Techniks

If we think of this kind of e-training as construction with Lego Techniks, then once you're past the introduction a 'set of bricks' should be used to assemble more specific answers and insights - even getting users - in this instance a coach and athlete, to participate in the construction based on their experience i.e. building up hundreds of case studies that have an e-learning component to them. The Lego Educational Institute are an astute bunch, their thinking on learning profound, modern and hands on.

Perhaps I should see what I can come up with, certainly working with disabled athletes the coach to athlete relationship is more 1 to 1 than taking a squad of equally 'able' swimmers. Then apply it to other contexts. And Lego are the ones to speak to.

'Lego Education' are worth looking at.

The thinking is considered, academic and modern - written in language that is refreshingly clear and succinct given the subject matter. The idea of 'flow' - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi - is included while the 'Four Cs' of learning is a good way to express the importance of collaborative, self-directed construction and reflection:

  • Connect
  • Construct
  • Contemplate
  • Continue

 

 


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My personal learning environment

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My%2520Internet%2520Use%25206DEC12.JPG

Fig.1. My Personal Learning Environment

I did one of these for H808 The E-Learning Professional 18 months ago.

The huge difference was first a Kindle, then an e-Book. I don't have a desk and in a busy home finding a place and time to learn was a problem - now I will pick up as I cook, in the bath ... and in bed. I take it with me. As it was described by an OU MBA Student, 'a university in your pocket'.

Not so much mobile learning and slumbering learning ... unless walking the dog while reading a forum message counts?

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H810 : Do you need help getting around?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 7 Dec 2012, 16:54

IMG_3883.JPG

Fig.1. Signage plonked in your face as you exit the tube station at Tower Hill

My antennae are out for anything and everything to do with accessibility - this caught my eye because there is no mention of disability or accessibility - nor should there be. I find phrases like 'disabled persons' or, instead of the icons such as these -  words like 'wheel-chair user', 'blind' or 'visually impaired' and 'deaf' as out-moded and inappropriate as efforts to define 'people of colour'.

I rather liked the 'older old' which I say in something yesterday - by anyone's reckoning Rupert Murdoch at 82 is 'old' whereas his mother who died yesterday was certainly 'older old'. Given how long-lived we are becoming Shakespeare's 'Seven Ages of Man' ought to be rephrased as 'the nine (or ten) ages of ... 'persons' (yuk)

I rather like 'oldies' too - but do they?

The relevance of this two-fold: the integration rather than the segration of disability into the population - at many levels we are all just 'people' and the language should reflect this; universal language as well as universal design - so understanding at what 'levels' words also need to be chosen with care. As this sign does so well there is no need or value in defining the need by labelling people with certain disabilities, at deeper levels then yes, clarifying and responding, for example to a visual impairment and then refining this to the blind, legally bling, sight impaired, short sighted and so on is necessary. Getting the context right matters. Giving it some thought - and having people in place to give it this thought - helps.

FURTHER LINKS

Transport for London

Transport and access to public services

Transport for London - Disability Guides

Mayor of London Access Policy

 

 

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H810 Activity 27.4 : Alternative formats

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 4 Jan 2013, 19:49

Read this web page and consider to what extent the six challenges mentioned are addressed in your context:

Mis-Adventures in Alt Format (Stewart, 2007)
http://www.altformat.org/index.asp?id=119&pid=222&ipname=GB

Pick one challenge and write a paragraph in your tutor group wiki explaining how it is relevant to your context.  
____________

Developing a total picture of how Alt Format fits into the broader discussion of curricular reform and modernization will help insure that we do not continue to live on the margins of the educational mainstream. (Stewart, 2007)

'Universal Design for Learning'

Challenges in relation to Alternative Formats:

  1. How does the provision of Alt Format fit into other emerging models for data management and delivery?
  2. How do we build systemic capacity to meet the projected needs for Alt Format and Accessible Curricular Materials?
  3. How do we align the divergent Alt Format efforts occurring on an international bases so that they minimize redundancies and duplicative efforts?
  4. How do we move beyond the current focus on Blind and Visual disabilities to a more holistic model of access for the gamut of print disabilities?
  5. How do we develop the level of technological literacy in students with print disabilities that will be necessary for them to benefit from the technological evolutions that are occurring in curricular access?
  6. How do we involve all of the curricular decision makers in the process of providing fully accessible materials?

In my context


1) How does the provision of Alt Format fit into other emerging models for data management and delivery?

With the digitization of everything a further step to ensure content is also accessible should be taken at the time of conversation or creation. I’m not aware in an agency where this ever occurs and when there is a client request the response is a simple one - word or PDF formats, or look to the browser of platform where the content will sti.

2) How do we build systemic capacity to meet the projected needs for Alt Format and Accessible Curricular Materials?

Is there a more appropriate agent to handle the conversion and delivery of electronic content on a given campus or system of campuses? I’d probably consider the Open University itself, or the Business School where I worked for a while. I know the disability officer, but his role was more to do with access and personnel and visitors to the building then meeting student needs - which I presume comes under Student Services.

3) How do we align the divergent Alt Format efforts occurring on an international bases so that they minimize redundancies and duplicative efforts?

Whilst efforts can and have to be made to improve access universally might the fine detail be left to address either group issues by working with representatitives of associations for, for example, the blind, dyslexia, cerebral palsy and other groups ? Learning from then improving such practices and tackling access for people from these groups for specific subjects and specific levels on a strategic basis knowing that complete coverage is the goal?

‘A plan for the development and incorporation of emerging technologies in a holistic and self-sustaining model is incumbent. These emerging systems must be based on flexibility and economies of scale if we are ever going to get in front of the issues of materials access.’ (Stewart, 2007)

4) How do we move beyond the current focus on Blind and Visual disabilities to a more holistic model of access for the gamut of print disabilities?

Doesn’t cover everyone who would benefit and would benefit other groups, such as non-native language populations, remedial groups and as an alternative for any user who may prefer or benefit from the text record.

5) How do we develop the level of technological literacy in students with print disabilities that will be necessary for them to benefit from the technological evolutions that are occurring in curricular access?

In many anecdotal reports, less than 10% of the incoming students to higher education have ever had any realistic exposure to the access technologies they will need to be successful in adult education and in the world of work. (Stewart, 2007)

Current studies suggest the opposite, that students with disabilities who gain so much from having a computer to access resources, that they are digitally literate. There are always people who for all kinds of reasons have had less exposure to or are less familiar with the technology -whether or not they also have a disability.

6) How do we involve all of the curricular decision makers in the process of providing fully accessible materials?

The original authors never have a say or make a contribution to the reversioning of content for use by disabled students.

This method of access often times results in the retrofit of existing materials, or the creation of alternative access methods that are not as efficient or well received in the general classroom environment. (Stewart, 2007)

For a truly effective model to be developed the original curriculum decisions should be made in a context of understanding the needs of all learners, and in particular those learners who do now have visual orientation to the teaching and learning process. (Stewart, 2007)

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Interview analysis revealed five personal factors that appeared to influence students’ decisions about technology use:

  1. a desire to keep things simple,
  2. a lack of DSA awareness,
  3. self-reliance,
  4. IT skills and digital literacy,
  5. a reluctance to make a fuss.

The three most talked about factors were desire to keep things simple, IT skills and digital literacy. Seal and Draffan (2010:455)

‘The are many ways of making and communicating meaning in the world today.’ Conole (2007:169)

The kind of problems students with disabilities now face are different - less whether content has been made available in a digital format, but how good the tools and services are to access this content.

  • accessibility of websites and course/learning management systems (CMS)
  • accessibility of digital audio and video
  • inflexible time limits built into online exams
  • PowerPoint/data projection during lectures
  • course materials in PDF
  • lack of needed adaptive technologies.

Students also mentioned technical difficulties using e-learning and connecting to websites and CMS, problems downloading and opening files, web pages that would not load, video clips taking too long to download, poor use of e-learning by professors and their own lack of knowledge  working with elearning.

For most groups of students, solving e-learning problems by using non e-learning solutions was also popular.

During the last decade there has been tremendous development and interest in e-learning on campus. While our research shows the many benefits of e-learning, such as the availability of online course notes, there are also problems. Chief among these are problems related to inaccessibility of websites and course management systems. (Fitchen et al 2009:253)

Digital Agility

Results suggest that an important personal resource that disabled students in the study drew on when using technologies to support their studies was their ‘digital agility’. Seal and Draffan (2010:449)

Use of assistive technologies

Many students with disabilities have, since 2007, developed strategies for the use of both specialist assistive technologies (e.g. IrisPro, quill mouse, Kurzweil, Inspiration or Dragon Dictate) as well as more generic technologies (e.g. mobile phone, DS40 digital recorder, Google) Seal and Draffan (2010:450)

Seal and Draffan (2010:451) therefore suggest that disabled students have the kind of ‘sophisticated awareness’ that Creanor et al. (2006) described when they talked about effective learners being prepared to adapt activities, environments and technologies to suit their own circumstances. This contradicts somewhat the arguments of Stewart who argues that disabled students are behind other students in terms of developing digital literacies.

The digital agility of the students, identified in the study, is significant in terms of encouraging practitioners not to view all disabled students as helpless victims of exclusion. Digital inclusion does not always have to be understood through the dual lenses of deficits and barriers. Seal and Draffan (2010:458)

REFERENCE

Conole, G and Oliver, M (eds)  2007. Contemporary perspectives in E-Learning Research. Themes, methods and impact on practice.

Fichten, C. S., Ferraro, V., Asuncion, J. V., Chwojka, C., Barile, M., Nguyen, M. N., & ... Wolforth, J. (2009). Disabilities and e-Learning Problems and Solutions: An Exploratory Study. Journal Of Educational Technology & Society, 12(4), 241-256.

Seale,J., Draffan,E.A. (2010) Digital agility and digital decision-making: conceptualising digital inclusion in the context of disabled learners in higer education, Studies in Higher Education, 35:4, 445-461

Stewart, R (2007) Mis-Adventures in Alt Format

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Blown away by my LAST TMA Result!!!!

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 5 Dec 2012, 06:42

Mowden%2520Swimming%2520Shield.JPG

Fig. 1. Won some team shield - age 12 years and 9 months

Over the last 34 months I have watched as various folk have posted news of a TMA success - the most important lesson and life lesson I have learnt through the OU (this time round) is to stick with it come what may.

This result doesn't win me clients, but as I stop for the day and set out into the night to meet folk who might be part of a team or might even be clients I can so with growing confidence.

'89'

I look at it and want to call my Mum.

We're discussing criticism and feedback in a forum on Linkedin - E-Learning Global Network.

I am inclined simply to shower someone with praise - they can figure out where it isn't up to scratch but the lift will do them wonders.

Stick with it. It takes time.

Somewhere I've posted how I felt going into this. 'In the flow'

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Find the support to get through the stumbles and bad decissions. This either comes from internal strength or external support - this could be the institution, might be your family.

An EMA and the MA is done.

 

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H810 Activity 27.1 What would you change about the way in which students are supported in your institution and why?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 5 Dec 2012, 10:52

What would you change about the way in which students are supported in your institution and why?

At least four post-secondary groupings have a stake in accessibility and e-learning in colleges and universities:

  1. students
  2. service providers
  3. professors
  4. the e-learning professionals on campus.

All four groups indicated, via online questionnaires, problems with:

  • accessibility of websites and course/learning management systems (CMS)
  • accessibility of digital audio and video
  • inflexible time limits built into online exams
  • PowerPoint/data projection during lectures
  • course materials in PDF
  • lack of needed adaptive technologies.

Common%2520problems%2520and%2520solutions%2520for%2520students%2520with%2520disabilities%2520Fitchen%25202009.JPG

Fig.1. Fitchen et al (2009) Table 5

When it comes to e-learning problems and solutions the nature of students' disabilities and impairments can have an important impact. Therefore, in Table 5 we present the most common problems and solutions for students with different disabilities.


This shows that the most popular solution for students with all types of disabilities is unresolved.

For most groups of students, solving e-learning problems by using non e-learning solutions was also popular. In addition to the common problems of inaccessibility of websites and course management systems and technical difficulties, which seem to pose problems for students regardless of the nature of their disability, students with learning disabilities and students with mobility impairments and arm/hand issues also had problems due to their lack of knowledge about how to use e-learning effectively. Students with psychiatric and with health issues noted problems due to poor use of e-learning by professors. Students with hearing impairments, not surprisingly, had problems related to the accessibility of audio and video materials. Students with visual impairments had problems related to the accessibility of course notes and materials, especially those in PDF. When their problem had a solution it was through non e-learning solutions, such as having someone read the materials aloud to them or through alternative formats or using adaptive technologies. (Fichten et al 2009:249)

Recommendations

Training

One means of addressing problems involving inaccessibility of websites and course management systems, of elearning broadly, and of specific materials, such as course notes and audio and video clips is through training of professors. Many colleges and universities already offer training on how to integrate e-learning in teaching and on how to use specific e-learning tools. (Fichten et al 2009:253)

REFERENCE

Fichten, C. S., Ferraro, V., Asuncion, J. V., Chwojka, C., Barile, M., Nguyen, M. N., & ... Wolforth, J. (2009). Disabilities and e-Learning Problems and Solutions: An Exploratory Study. Journal Of Educational Technology & Society, 12(4), 241-256.


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The purpose of education ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 4 Jan 2013, 20:09

"The purpose of education is not to make information accessible, but rather to teach learners how to transform accessible information into useable knowledge.Decades of cognitive science research have demonstrated that the capability to transform accessible information into useable knowledge is not a passive process but an active one". CAST (2011)

Constructing useable knowledge, knowledge that is accessible for future decision-making, depends not upon merely perceiving information, but upon active “information processing skills” like selective attending, integrating new information with prior knowledge, strategic categorization, and active memorization.Individuals differ greatly in their skills in information processing and in their access to prior knowledge through which they can assimilate new information. CAST (2011)

Proper design and presentation of information – the responsibility of any curriculum or instructional methodology - can provide the scaffolds necessary to ensure that all learners have access to knowledge. CAST (2011)

I recommend the last link in its entirety above most that I have reviewed. It is a resource, It is succinct. It is practical. It respects the fact that all students come to this kind of learning with a set of experiences and skills - and tactics and tools that work for them. Why make someone play the tuba when they play the harp perfectly well? A metaphor worth developing I wonder in relation learning to play an instrument, read music, pass theory tests, perform solo or in an ensemble, to sight read etc:

Do you recall the paraorchestra performing with Coldplay at the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympics who represented the widest range and degree of disability? http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/sep/01/orchestra-disabled-people-play-paralympics

Guidelines

  • Provide options for perception
  • Provide options for language, mathematical expressions, and symbols
  • Provide options for comprehension

Checkpoints

  • Offer ways of customizing the display of information
  • Offer alternatives for auditory information
  • Offer alternatives for visual information
  • Support decoding text, mathematical notation, and symbols
  • Clarify vocabulary and symbols
  • Clarify syntax and structure
  • Promote understanding across languages
  • Illustrate through multiple media

REFERENCE

CAST (2011). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.0. Wakefield, MA: Author.

http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/udlguidelines/principle1#principle1_g3

National Center On Universal Design for Learning

Guideline 3: Provide options for comprehension

http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/udlguidelines/principle1#principle1_g3

NATIONAL CENTER ON UNIVERSAL DESIGN FOR LEARNING, AT CAST
40 HARVARD MILLS SQUARE, SUITE 3, WAKEFIELD, MA 01880-3233
TEL (781) 245-2212, EMAIL UDLCENTER@UDLCENTER.ORG

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H810 : Activity 26 Designing and developing accessible e-learning experiences: the learning technologist’s perspective.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 May 2014, 11:42

Designing and developing accessible e-learning experiences: the learning technologist’s perspective.

  1. There is a debate surrounding who is responsible (or most responsible) for accessibility. How helpful is this debate in ensuring that people working in post-16 education change their practices?

    If those with technical skills, such as learning technologists, are not ultimately or solely responsible for ensuring accessibility, what responsibilities do you think they should have and why?

  2. On pages 82–83, Seale uses an archaeology metaphor to try to encourage learning technologists to dig deeper beneath the surface of accessibility guidelines and standards. This is intended to develop a greater understanding of approaches to accessible design. How helpful do you think this metaphor is?

    'Using archaeology as a metaphor, it can be argued that accessibility legislation, guidelines, standards and evaluation tools are not the most helpful or informative place to start. The legislation, guidelines, standards and tools are merely archaeological artefacts that have been scattered on the surface of a significant archaeological site'. Seal 2006:83

    This doesn't work for me. It doesn't ring true to the metaphor. a) Archeology implies something ancient and long buried whereas these guidelines are 'scatterd on the surface' like rubbish dropped at a later stage. The rules and regulations are recent and changing, both in what is said, how interpretted, executed and policed.

    Can you think of an alternative metaphor, image, analogy or visualisation that could be used to help develop learning technologists’ thinking in this area?

    Not only is collaboration in learning coming of age it needs to happen in practice, as increasingly it does in industry. There continues to be a good deal of resistance in higher education, partly this is because of how academics in particular came into managerial positions - if they are. My experience of most academics is that either they want to be left alone to do research, or they want to be left alone with their students - they didn't chose to 'go into business' or join the 'real world' because of the stresses in relation to managing tasks such as this and working in a team where they might not be top dog. It would help enormously if those in Higher Education could spend some time working in business and to take these models and employ them on in their department of faculty. For a start, take on roles such as project manager, learning designer, lead programmer, art director, author and so on. Then find a metphor that works for everyone that evokes both team work and organic growth. A rock band works for me - I resist the orchestra analogy as it is such a cliche and leads to some people wanting to be the conductor or composer. A theatre troupe might be the thing. Or a circus act! But all performing together and dependent on each other. Academics in particular most stop behaving like premadonnas - 'out here' they are the 'subject matter expert' - less than a writer, just a conduit for knowledge, a talking and responsive version of information that is readily available online anyway. i.e they can be a hinderance. Perhaps the metaphor I would use, which is close to the reality of creating interactive content - would be a film production unit where there are specialists skills, and a hierarchy: executive producer, producer, line producer, director, first assistant director, camera operator, sound engineer, actor 1, actor 2, script writer, script continuity, art director, props, costume ... editor, publicity and so on. One weak link and the entire project might fail.

    As it has currency in learning and e-learning circles an even better metaphor might be that of an architect's studio given the way in which e-learning has to be designed, constructed in a programmer, shared, adjusted, tested, built, tested again, added to with various layers from foundations to walls, pluimbing and electrics, then internal and external decor and furnishings. Christopher Alexander's 1970 book 'The Timeless Building' which he developed into a methodolgy for computer software design is often cited.

  3. On page 98 Seale discusses the tensions regarding the use of technical tools versus human judgement to evaluate the accessibility of learning resources. What is your position concerning this issue? Can we trust human judgement? If so, whose judgement should we trust – learning technologists working within educational organisations or external experts?

We have to trust human judgement, which includes the decission to expect the technology to provide the answers, or do the donkey work. Instead of relying on one piece of software to come up with a myriad of answers that to the uninitiated can look like some task set by a wicked wizard in a fairy tale. I'm in favour of having a large and diverse testing team drawn from a community of learners, including of course those with visual, hearing, mobility or cognitive impairments - to offer opions - as we have reviewers and editors in things like Wikipedia. i.e. use the power of the numbers online rather than simply the power of a piece of software.

Make brief notes in response to these questions. Your notes should reflect your own context. You can do this as bullet points or just a sentence or two about each question.

Choose one of your answers and post it for discussion in your tutor group forum. If you disagree with Seale about any of the points in this chapter, you could also discuss this in the forum.

2 HOURS

 

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The idea of ‘left brain’ versus ‘right brain’ learning has virtually no credence in neuroscience.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 30 Nov 2012, 22:32

Brain.JPG

The idea of ‘left brain’ versus ‘right brain’ learning has no credence in neuroscience.

The idea appears to stem from the fact that there is some hemispheric specialisation in terms of the localisation of different skills.

For example, many aspects of language processing are left-lateralised (although not in blind people or in those who emigrate in later childhood to a new linguistic community). Some aspects of face recognition, in contrast, are right-lateralised. However, it is also a fact that there are massive cross -hemisphere connections in the normal brain. Both hemispheres work together in every cognitive task so far explored with neuroimaging, including language and face recognition tasks.

So far, neuroimaging data demonstrate that both ‘left brain’ and ‘right brain’ are involved in all cognitive tasks.

Goswami (2004:180)

REFERENCE

Goswami, U. (2004) ‘Neuroscience, science and special education’, British Journal of Special Education, 31 (4), 175–183.

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Creativity is improvisation when it all goes wrong

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 28 Nov 2012, 17:12

Edmund%2520de%2520Waal%2520DID%25202.JPG

Fig. 1. Edmund de Waal - Ceramics and Creative Writing

In discussion on Desert Island Discs this week. Some marvellous insights into his take on the creative process - the confidence to make it up if it all goes wrong, as Ella Fitzgerald does in the particular track he chooses of her singing Mack the Knife and forgetting the words.

Edmund de Waal
Desert Island Discs
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/b01p067p
Sunday 25th November 2012

'This is making it up as you go along. This matters to me because this is what the experience of making things is like. That’s improvisation. That’s when when you think you’ve got it made before you start. And then …   it all goes … it doesn’t go wrong - it goes different'.

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How do you know when someone has learned something?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 28 Nov 2012, 09:02

How do you know when someone has learned something?

Condtions%2520of%2520Learning.JPG

Fig. 1. The Conditions of Learning

As a bedside read this is a slow burn. I know its good for me, but it also sends me to slept. That is until I got to Chapter 5, p123 on Chaining: motor and verbal

Multiple Pennies have just dropped

Like one of those penny pusher arcade games

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Who are the leading learning theorists and schools of thought?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 28 Nov 2012, 05:15

LEADERS  IN LEARNING:

Donald Clark offers a list of 50 learning theorists

I've been +adding to it. Who are we missing?

GREEKS
Socrates
Plato
Aristotle
RELIGIOUS LEADERS
Jesus
Mohammed
+ Confucius
ENLIGHTENMENT
Locke
+Hobbes
Rousseau
Wollstonecraft
+ Hagel
+ Machiavelli
PRAGMATISTS
James
Dewey
MARXISTS
Marx
Gramsci
Althusser
BEHAVIOURISTS
Pavlov
Skinner
Bandura
CONSTRUCTIVISTS
Piaget
Bruner
Vygotsky
+Engestrom
HUMANISTS
Maslow
Rogers
Illich
Gardener
SCHOOLS
Montessori
Friere
Steiner
John Seely Brown
+ Christopher Alexander
+ Donald Schon
+ Rogers
INSTRUCTIONALISTS
Ebbinghaus
Harris
Mazur
Black & William
E-LEARNING
Jay Cross
Martin Weller
Grainne Conole
Agnes Kukulska-Hulme
Jilly Salmon
Helen Beetham
Rhona Sharpe
Chris Pegler
Jane Seale

TECHNOLOGY ANALYSTS
McLuhan
Postman
Schank
Kelly
Shirky
GAMES
Prensky (NO!)
Gee
USABILITY &EVALUATION
Norman
Nielsen
Krug
MEDIA & DESIGN
Mayer & Clark
Reeves & Nass
INFORMAL LEARNING
Csikszentmihalyi
Cross
Zuckerburg ?!
INTERNET LEARNING
Page & Brin
Bezos ?!
Hurley & Chen
INTERNET CONTENT
Sperling
Wales
Khan
OPEN SOURCE
Torvalds
Moodle guy
+ Wiki
+ MOOC
+ WordPress
TRAINING
Bloom
Biggs
Bateson
Belbin
Mager
Gagne
Kolb
Kirkpatrick

Please offer suggestions to add or delete ...

Permalink 4 comments (latest comment by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 28 Nov 2012, 19:52)
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When it comes to e-learning how do you see yourself? Learning Designer, Writer, Architect?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 14 Feb 2014, 10:38

 

Fig.1. Building Construction W B McKay 1943

Are you the learning architect or the learning builder?

It is flattering to the group from Learning & Development that they can be likened to architects. Whilst many will have a degree, some don't - whilst some may have a post graduate qualification, very few do. None I'm sure will have spent six or seven years in formal study that has lead to recognition by the Royal College of E-Learning Designers - there is no such professional qualification, nor is there any period of formal study, a mix of studio work and academic research, that leads to a qualification of  this calibre.

The exceptions are those with first degrees and MBAs and at the pinnacle of this discussion, Christopher Alexander who has first and second degrees from Cambridge and a PhD in architecture from Harvard.

Many in academia have the second degree and PhD - but they generally lack the experience designing learning outside undergraduate and postgraduate tertiary education, which is quite a diffderent beast to the short courses and continual professional development desired in the workplace.

If I were to take the building trade by way of an analogy I would say that the learning and development manager is the client - while the architect is an agent or agency that you hire in for their design expertise and knowledge of foremen and project managers, builders and electrcians - the project leaders, programmers and art directos of e-learning creation.

The L&D manager may be a subject matter expert but is far more likely to draw upon expertise from within their organisation.

Which of the following made the biggest contribution to your learning when you first set out in your current career asked Clive Shepherd?

Fig.2. What has contributed most to your learning?

This depends of course on when a person knew they were set on a career path.

How many people come into Learning & Development (L&D) having decided on this path as an undergraduate?

As a graduate trainee I expected a mix of on the job and formal training - this mix turned out to be around 95% to 5% while contemporaries elsewhere were getting 50/50 of none at all. This is the formal way of graduate training and can last two or three years. Think of lawyers (barristers and trainee solicitors), accounts, bankers and teachers ... doctors, dentists, vets and architects.

Clive Shepherd who recently gave an insightful presentation on The New Learning Architect says he got the idea of the new learning architect at presentation gave by Jay Cross on informal learning.  

Away from the presentation I like to click around as for me to understand a concept it helps to perceive its inception.

In turn, if you check the references for Jay Cross’s 2006 ‘Informal Learning: Rediscovering the Natural Pathways that Inspire Innovation and Performance' you’ll find where his ideas may have came from -  Robert A Heinlein (1961) ‘Strangers in a Strange Land’ and R Nelson Bolles (2005) ‘What Color’s Your Parachute’ are there along with John Seely Brown (2005) ‘The Only Sustainable Edge’.

There are some inspirational ideas and link here:

Jay Cross : Important Stuff

Informal learning

Workflow learning ties learning into the actual workflow within an organisation. According to Jay Cross it takes us to support and on-demand services that are designed to exist within the real tasks we do in our everyday work.Out of this work on workflow learning came an even wider, and what he regards as more important set of reflections.



Fig.3. Zoom.It History of Corporate Education.

This timelines the history of corporate and executive training. It is like a touch-screen and zoome control all in one. The Bayeux Tapestry in digital form (now there's an idea over 900 years old). I spotted a typo - you'll find it says something about  ‘Toyota: Clean Production’ rather than Lean Production. We should consider the content in other ways - I know a PLC that set up an internal ‘university’ in the mid 1970s - or maybe they called in a training centre. Same difference?

If Clive Shepherd got his idea of the learning architect from Jay Cross I imagine Jay Cross  in turn got the idea from a Christopher Alexander.

Christopher Alexander's Notes on the Synthesis of Form was required reading for researchers in computer science throughout the 1960s. It had an influence in the 1960s and 1970s on programming language design, modular programming, object-oriented programming, software engineering and other design methodologies.  He is cited through-out the Open University's Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) as an originator of design practice that was applied to computer design and therefore could be applied to e-learning design.

Here's the education of someone who can rightfully call themselves an architect and do so in the context of learning, even of e-learning.

In 1954, Christopher Alexander was awarded the top open scholarship to Trinity CollegeCambridge University in chemistry and physics, and went on to read mathematics. He earned a Bachelor's degree in Architecture and a Master's degree in Mathematics. He took his doctorate at Harvard (the first Ph.D. in Architecture ever awarded at Harvard University), and was elected fellow at Harvard. During the same period he worked at MIT in transportation theory and in computer science, and worked at Harvard in cognition and cognitive studies.

Fig.4. The Timeless Way of Building

'The Timeless Way of Building' proposes a new theory of architecture (and design in general) that relies on the understanding and configuration of design patterns.It is these design patterns that came to the attention of creators of e-learning modules in the 21st century, the idea that designs for subjects or cohorts might be replicated and shared across the online learning community so that you might say a fits an undergraduate arts course, while b is the model for a health & safety module in industry, c gives you language learning in primary school while d offers an elective in urology to 4th year medical students.

To become an architect requires a considerable commitment.

Take the three year undergraduate course in architecture at the University of Cambridge

Entry Requirements: A* AA : Likely to include Maths and Art or History of Art.

Students may stay on at Cambridge to complete an MPhil at RSA exams to qualify in six years (this includes a year in a placement)

‘The three year BA(Hons) course is unusual in the University in combining both arts and sciences. As such it provides a unique range of skills which lead to a wide range of careers, not just architecture’.


Throughout the BA tripos studio work carries 60% of the marks.

The remaining 40% is made up from exams and other forms of coursework (dissertations, etc). Studiowork in all years is handed in for marking at the end of the year. Studiowork is time-consuming and probably requires more hours per week than any other course in the University. Students are also expected to work during the Christmas and Easter vacations.

I labour this point because as someone who has gone from corporate communications and video based training to computer based training and e-learning I would never liken myself to a cardiologist, even a qualified lawyer or certified accountant, let alone an architect. An educator perhaps, but I don't have a formal teaching qualificaiton, only sports coaching and the MAODE when I graduate early next year.

Fig. 5. BRICKS - Building Construction W B McKay 1943

Several other analogies have been used in the e-learning literature, some that still have a building or architecture theme to them.

What we get here is learning design broken down to brick sized components, some call them 'interactivities' (a term I often here working in a design agency). I find the idea of atoms in a chemical reaction (Wiley, 2001) too small, even if we are dealing with binary code it isn't something that we see anymore. Gilly Salmon (2002) would have liked 'e-tivities' to catch on - she puts these in a logical sequence, building blocks towards a module. At the Open University they tend to be called 'Learning Objects'. Chris Pegler (2004) finds this too static and unresponsive preferring if we go with the Lego analogy, or Technics. Littlejohn et al (2008) describe these components as:

Digital assets - a single item, image, video or podcast or an nformation objects: a structured aggregation of digital assets designed purely to present information.

Learning activities -tasks involving interactions with information to attain a specific learning outcome.

Learning design - structured sequences of information and learning activities to promote learning.

Fig. 5. BRICKS - Building Construction W B McKay 1943

For pure aspiration I like the digital architect as a goal for an undergraduate setting out on a long course of formal and applied study. L&D directors and managers approach an e-learnign agency as they would a firm of architects and together they write a brief. This is propoposed, scheduled and costed then a scheme of work begins.

The delivery, depending on the scale of it, might be akin to anything from a brick arcade (health and safety induction to leisure staff) to a bungalow to a housing estate (induction of trainee solicitors in an national firm of solictors), an office block or a factory (long term management development for an international engineering business).

REFERENCE

Alexander, C (1970) The Timeless Way of Buidling

Cross, J (2006) The Informal Learner

Downes, S (2000) Learning Objects. Available from http://www.newstrolls.com/news/dev/downes/col;umn000523_1.htm

Littlejohn, Falconer, Mcgill (2008) Characterising effective eLearning (sic) resources

Pegler, C and Littlejohn, A (2004) Preparing for Blended e-Learning, Routledge.

Salmon, G (2002) E-tivities

Shepherd, C (2011) The New Learning Architext

Wiley, D.A. (2000) Connecting Learning Objects to instructional design theory: a definition, a metaphor, and a taxonomy. In D.A. Wiley (ed), The instructional use of Learning Objects. Available from http://reusability.org/read/chapters/wiley.doc

 

 

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Xerte follow up - software that promises a good deal but doesn't always deliver

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 27 Nov 2012, 07:26

My background is corporate communications where our projects are produced by a team - in advertising an art director works with a copywriter, in web design we added a programmer and for e-learning we added a learning designer and subject matter expert - in education the teacher or tutor is this subject matter expert and at the most senior level is expected to do it all themselves.

I don't get this at all - we know that people have different strengths and weaknesses. There is a particular divide betgween those who can write and those who can visualise, between the author and illustrator, the copywriter and art director.

The result from too many teachers and tutors is either little online presence or a blog, sometimes a power point presentation.

I find resistance and unwillingness repeatedly and have sympathy because they should not be expected to do much other than be brilliant exponents of their subject.

They are rarely good at visuslisation or narrative, have had no training on use of slides so pack 'em full of words or irrelevant clip art and by habit write blog posts that are too long, too dense and too late. They hate to let go of their idea - it is theirs and no one else may touch or influence their brilliant conceptions.

I've given Xerte a go.

I have many users in mind for the content that only it can deliver - but in my case I know when I am stumped and if it feels like I'm having to conjugate verbs in Latin I'll go and find someone who can make it sing.

On my list of tools that promise a lot but fail, Xerte may escape this category for now, I inlcude Elluminate, Compendium, MyStuff and Cloudworks and Social Learn. They all have something in common.

I'll give Xerte another go as I see what I can deliver in terms of access. But as an e-learning platform it is slide show.

Clive Shepherd

On the pros and cons of being both the subject matter expert and the learning designer

http://clive-shepherd.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/do-instructional-designers-need-to-know.html

 

 

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Papyrus and paper ...

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'Papyrus and paper chalk and print, overhead projectors, educational toys and television, even the basics technologies of writing were innovations once'. Beetham and Sharpe (2007)  L525 (Kindle Edition)

REFERENCE

Beetham, H., Sharpe,R. (2007)  Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age: Designing and Delivering E-learning. Taylor & Francis. Kindle Edition.

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Books on Advertising

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 26 Nov 2012, 17:43

Scientific Advertising (1923) - Claude Hopkins.

Ogilvy on Advertising - David Ogilvy

The Hidden Persauders - Vance Packard

The ultimate list of the best ever marketing books http://webmarketinginnercircle.com/internet-marketing/best-marketing-books-list/

Confessions of an Advertising Man – David Ogilvy

How to Write a Good Advertisement – Victor O. Schwab

Tested Advertising Methods – John Caples

Published in 1932. This one has stood the test of time and for good reason, it’s a copywriting master class

The Copywriter’s Handbook, Third Edition: A Step-By-Step Guide To Writing Copy That Sells – Robert Bly

Hypnotic Writing: How to Seduce and Persuade Customers with Only Your Words – Joe Vitale

How To Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie

Permission Marketing : Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers – Seth Godin

Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences – Nancy Duarte

Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business – Ann Handley and C. C. Chapman

 

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Rethinking Homework

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 25 Nov 2012, 12:23

PRINCIPAL January/February 2007

Rethinking Homework By Alfie Kohn

After spending most of the day in school, children are typically given additional assignments to be completed at home. This is a rather curious fact when you stop to think about it, but not as curious as the fact that few people ever stop to think about it. It becomes even more curious, for that matter, in light of three other facts:

1. The negative effects of homework are well known.

They include children’s frustration and exhaustion, lack of time for other activities, and possible loss of interest in learning. Many parents lament the impact of homework on their relationship with their children; they may also resent having to play the role of enforcer and worry that they will be criticized either for not being involved enough with the homework or for becoming too involved.

2. The positive effects of homework are largely mythical.

In preparation for a book on the topic, I’ve spent a lot of time sifting through the research. The results are nothing short of stunning. For starters, there is absolutely no evidence of any academic benefit from assigning homework in elementary or middle school. For younger students, in fact, there isn’t even a correlation between whether children do homework (or how much they do) and any meaningful measure of achievement. At the high school level, the correlation is weak and tends to disappear when more sophisticated statistical measures are applied. Meanwhile, no study has ever substantiated the belief that homework builds character or teaches good study habits.

3. More homework is being piled on children despite the absence of its value.

Over the last quarter-century the burden has increased most for the youngest children, for whom the evidence of positive effects isn’t just dubious; it’s nonexistent. It’s not as though most teachers decide now and then that a certain lesson really ought to continue after school is over because meaningful learning is so likely to result from such an assignment that it warrants the intrusion on family time.

Homework in most schools isn’t limited to those occasions when it seems appropriate and important. Rather, the point of departure seems to be: “We’ve decided ahead of time that children will have to do something every night (or several times a week).

Later on we’ll figure out what to make them do.

”I’ve heard from countless people across the country about the frustration they feel over homework. Parents who watch a torrent of busywork spill out of their children’s backpacks wish they could help teachers understand how the cons overwhelmingly outweigh the pros. And teachers who have long harbored doubts about the value of homework feel pressured by those parents who mistakenly believe that a lack of afterschool assignments reflects an insufficient commitment to academic achievement.

Such parents seem to reason that as long as their kids have lots of stuff to do every night, never mind what it is, then learning must be taking place. What parents and teachers need is support from administrators who are willing to challenge the conventional wisdom. They need principals who question the slogans that pass for arguments: that homework creates a link between school and family (as if there weren’t more constructive ways to make that connection!), or that it “reinforces” what students were taught in class (a word that denotes the repetition of rote behaviors, not the development of understanding), or that it teaches children self-discipline and responsibility (a claim for which absolutely no evidence exists).

Above all, principals need to help their faculties see that the most important criterion for judging decisions about homework (or other policies, for that matter) is the impact they’re likely to have on students’ attitudes about what they’re doing. “Most of what homework is doing is driving kids away from learning,” says education professor Harvey Daniels. Let’s face it: Most children dread homework, or at best see it as something to be gotten through.

Thus, even if it did provide other benefits, they would have to be weighed against its likely effect on kids’ love of learning.

* So what’s a thoughtful principal to do?

1. Educate yourself and share what you’ve learned with teachers, parents, and central office administrators.

Make sure you know what the research really says – that there is no reason to believe that children would be at any disadvantage in terms of their academic learning or life skills if they had much less homework, or even none at all. Whatever decisions are made should be based on fact rather than folk wisdom.

2. Rethink standardized “homework policies.

” Requiring teachers to give a certain number of minutes of homework every day, or to make assignments on the same schedule every week (for example, x minutes of math on Tuesdays and Thursdays) is a frank admission that homework isn’t justified by a given lesson, much less is it a response to what specific kids need at a specific time. Such policies sacrifice thoughtful instruction in order to achieve predictability, and they manage to do a disservice not only to students but, when imposed from above, to teachers as well.

3. Reduce the amount – but don’t stop there. Many parents are understandably upset with how much time their children have to spend on homework.

At a minimum, make sure that teachers aren’t exceeding district guidelines and that they aren’t chronically underestimating how long it takes students to complete the assignments. (As one mother told me, “It’s cheating to say this is 20 minutes of homework if only your fastest kid can complete it in that time.”) Then work on reducing the amount of homework irrespective of such guidelines and expectations so that families, not schools, decide how they will spend most of their evenings. Quantity, however, is not the only issue that needs to be addressed. Some assignments, frankly, aren’t worth even five minutes of a student’s time. Too many first graders are forced to clip words from magazines that begin with a given letter of the alphabet. Too many fifth graders have to color in an endless list of factor pairs on graph paper.

Too many eighth graders spend their evenings inching their way through dull, overstuffed, committee-written textbooks, one chapter at a time. Teachers should be invited to reflect on whether any given example of homework will help students think deeply about questions that matter. What philosophy of teaching, what theory of learning, lies behind each assignment? Does it seem to assume that children are meaning makers -- or empty vessels?

Is learning regarded as a process that’s mostly active or passive?

Is it about wrestling with ideas or mindlessly following directions?

4. Change the default.

Ultimately, it’s not enough just to have less homework or even better homework. We should change the fundamental expectation in our schools so that students are asked to take schoolwork home only when a there’s a reasonable likelihood that a particular assignment will be beneficial to most of them. When that’s not true, they should be free to spend their after-school hours as they choose. The bottom line: No homework except on those occasions when it’s truly necessary.

This, of course, is a reversal of the current default state, which amounts to an endorsement of homework for its own sake, regardless of the content, a view that simply can’t be justified.

5. Ask the kids.

Find out what students think of homework and solicit their suggestions – perhaps by distributing anonymous questionnaires. Many adults simply assume that homework is useful for promoting learning without even inquiring into the experience of the learners themselves! Do students find that homework really is useful? Why or why not? Are certain kinds better than others? How does homework affect their desire to learn?

What are its other effects on their lives, and on their families?

6. Suggest that teachers assign only what they design.

In most cases, students should be asked to do only what teachers are willing to create themselves, as opposed to prefabricated worksheets or generic exercises photocopied from textbooks. Also, it rarely makes sense to give the same assignment to all students in a class because it’s unlikely to be beneficial for most of them. Those who already understand the concept will be wasting their time, and those who don’t understand will become increasingly frustrated. There is no perfect assignment that will stimulate every student because one size simply doesn’t fit all. On those days when homework really seems necessary, teachers should create several assignments fitted to different interests and capabilities. But it’s better to give no homework to anyone than the same homework to everyone.

7. Use homework as an opportunity to involve students in decision-making.

One way to judge the quality of a classroom is by the extent to which students participate in making choices about their learning. The best teachers know that children learn how to make good decisions by making decisions, not by following directions. Students should have something to say about what they’re going to learn and the circumstances under which they’ll learn it, as well as how (and when) their learning will be evaluated, how the room will be set up, how conflicts will be resolved, and a lot more. What is true of education in general is true of homework in particular.

At least two investigators have found that the most impressive teachers (as defined by various criteria) tend to involve students in decisions about assignments rather than simply telling them what they’ll have to do at home. A reasonable first question for a parent to ask upon seeing a homework assignment is “How much say did the kids have in determining how this had to be done, and on what schedule, and whether it really needed to be completed at home in the first place?” A discussion about whether homework might be useful (and why) can be valuable in its own right.

If opinions are varied, the question of what to do when everyone doesn’t agree – take a vote? keep talking until we reach consensus? look for a compromise? – develops social skills as well as intellectual growth. And that growth occurs precisely because the teacher asked rather than told. Teachers who consult with their students on a regular basis would shake their heads vigorously were you to suggest that kids will always say no to homework – or to anything else that requires effort. It’s just not true, they’ll tell you.

When students are treated with respect, when the assignments are worth doing, most kids relish a challenge.

If, on the other hand, students groan about, or try to avoid, homework, it’s generally because they get too much of it, or because it’s assigned thoughtlessly and continuously, or simply because they had nothing to say about it. The benefits of even high-quality assignments are limited if students feel “done to” instead of “worked with.”

8. Help teachers move away from grading.

Your faculty may need your support, encouragement, and practical suggestions to help them abandon a model in which assignments are checked off or graded, where the point is to enforce compliance, and toward a model in which students explain and explore with one another what they’ve done -- what they liked and disliked about the book they read, what they’re struggling with, what new questions they came up with.

As the eminent educator Martin Haberman observed, homework in the best classrooms “is not checked – it is shared.”

If students conclude that there’s no point in spending time on assignments that aren’t going to be collected or somehow recorded, that’s not an argument for setting up bribes and threats and a climate of distrust; it’s an indictment of the homework itself.

9. Experiment.

Ask teachers who are reluctant to rethink their long-standing reliance on traditional homework to see what happens if, during a given week or curriculum unit, they tried assigning none.

Surely anyone who believes that homework is beneficial should be willing to test that assumption by investigating the consequences of its absence. What are the effects of a moratorium on students’ achievement, on their interest in learning, on their moods and the resulting climate of the classroom? Likewise, the school as a whole can try out a new policy, such as the change in default that I’ve proposed, on a tentative basis before committing to it permanently.

* Principals deal with an endless series of crises; they’re called upon to resolve complaints, soothe wounded egos, negotiate solutions, try to keep everyone happy, and generally make the trains (or, rather, buses) run on time. In such a position there is a strong temptation to avoid new initiatives that call the status quo into question.

Considerable gumption is required to take on an issue like homework, particularly during an era when phrases like “raising the bar” and “higher standards” are used to rationalize practices that range from foolish to inappropriate to hair-raising. But of course a principal’s ultimate obligation is to do what’s right by the children, to protect them from harmful mandates and practices that persist not because they’re valuable but merely because they’re traditional.

For anyone willing to shake things up in order to do what makes sense, beginning a conversation about homework is a very good place to start.

RESOURCES

We are awash in articles and books that claim homework is beneficial – or simply take the existence or value of homework for granted and merely offer suggestions for how it ought to be assigned, or what techniques parents should use to make children complete it. Here are some resources that question the conventional assumptions about the subject in an effort to stimulate meaningful thinking and conversation.

Barber, Bill. “Homework Does Not Belong on the Agenda for Educational Reform.” Educational Leadership, May 1986: 55-57.

Bennett, Sara, and Nancy Kalish. The Case Against Homework: How Homework Is Hurting Our Children and What We Can Do About It (New York: Crown, 2006).

Buell, John. Closing the Book on Homework: Enhancing Public Education and Freeing Family Time. (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2004). Dudley-Marling, Curt. “How School Troubles Come Home: The Impact of Homework on Families of Struggling Learners.” Current Issues in Education [On-line] 6, 4 (2003).

Hinchey, Patricia. “Rethinking Homework.” MASCD [Missouri Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development] Fall Journal, December 1995: 13-17. Kohn, Alfie. The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing (Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2006).

Kralovec, Etta, and John Buell. The End of Homework: How Homework Disrupts Families, Overburdens Children, and Limits Learning (Boston: Beacon Press, 2000).

Samway, Katharine. “’And You Run and You Run to Catch Up with the Sun, But It’s Sinking.’” Language Arts 63 (1986): 352-57.

Kralovec, Etta, and John Buell. The End of Homework: How Homework Disrupts Families, Overburdens Children, and Limits Learning (Boston: Beacon Press, 2000). Samway, Katharine. “’And You Run and You Run to Catch Up with the Sun, But It’s Sinking.’” Language Arts 63 (1986): 352-57.

Vatterott, Cathy. “There’s Something Wrong With Homework.” Principal, January-February 2003: 64. Waldman, Ayelet. “Homework Hell.”

Salon.com. October 22, 2005.

Copyright © 2007 by Alfie Kohn.

This article may be downloaded, reproduced, and distributed without permission as long as each copy includes this notice along with citation information (i.e., name of the periodical in which it originally appeared, date of publication, and author's name). Permission must be obtained in order to reprint this article in a published work or in order to offer it for sale in any form.

Please write to the address indicated on the Contact Us page.

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H810 Open University Disability Conference 2012

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 Aug 2013, 07:02

Open University Disability Conference 2012

Edited by Christopher Douce, 19 November, 18:27
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On 14 November 2012 I attended the Open University Disability Conference held at a conference centre close to the university.  The last time I attended this event was back in 2010.   I wrote a summary of the 2010 conference which might be useful to some (I should add that I've had to mess around a bit to get a link to this earlier summary and there is a possibility that this link might go to different posts since I can't quite figure out how to get a permalink, but that's a side issue...)

The conference was a two day event but due to other things I had to be getting on with I could only attend one of the days.  From my experience of the first conference, the second day tends to be quite dramatic (and this year proved to be no exception).

The legacy of the Paralympics

Julie Young from Disabled Student Services kicked off the day by introducing Tony O'Shea-Poon, head of equality and diversity.  Tony gave a presentation entitled 'A lot can change in 64 years' which described the history of the Paralympic games whilst at the same time putting the games into the context of disability equality.

During the Paralympics I remember a television drama that presented the origins of the games.  Tony reminded us that it began in 1948 at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital.  The first ever Paralympic games (with the 'para' meaning 'alongside') taking place in Rome in 1960.

One of the striking aspects of Tony's presentation is that it was presented in terms of 'forces'; forces which have increased the awareness of issues that impact upon the lives of people with disabilities.  Relating back to the origins of the games, one force is the allies of people with disabilities.  There is also the role that role models can play, particularly in popular media.

Two other forces include disabled peoples involvement and the disability rights movement.  Tony spoke about something that I had not known of before.  During the late 1980s I remember a number of public 'telethon' events - extended TV shows that aimed to raise money for charitable causes.  In 1992 there was a campaign to 'block telethon'.  This is a message that people with disabilities should have rights, not charity.  This connects with a movement away from a more historic medical and charity model of disability to a social model where people with disabilities should have an equal rights and opportunities within society. Tony also mentioned the importance of legislation, particularly the disability rights commission, explicitly mentioning role of Sir Bert Massie.

Tony brought us to the present day, emphasising not only recent successes (such as the Paralympic games), but also current challenges; Tony drew our attention to protests in August of this year by disabled people against government cuts.   Legitimate protest is considered to be another force that can facilitate change.

Deb Criddle: Paralympian

Jane Swindells from the university disability advisory service introduced Deb Criddle (Wikipedia), paralympian gold and silver medallist.  Deb gained one gold medal and two silver medals in London 2012, as well as gaining gold medals in Athens.

This part of the day took the form of a question and answer session, with Jane asking the first questions.  Deb reflected on the recent Paralympic games and described her personal experiences.  One of the key points that Deb made was that it was great that the games focussed people's attention on abilities and not disabilities.  It also had the effect of the making disability more normalised.

One thing that I remember from living in London at the time of the Olympics and Paralympics is that people were more open to talking to each other.  Deb gave us an anecdote that the games created opportunities for conversations (about and with people with disabilities) which wouldn't have otherwise happened.

Deb said that she 'wasn't expecting the support we had'.  On the subject of support she also made an important point that the facilities and support services that are available within the UK are very different to the facilities that are available in other countries.  At the time of the Paralympics I remember reading stories in the London Metro (the free newspaper that is available ever week day morning) about campaigners who were trying to obtain equipment and resources for some of the competitors.

Deb also shared with us aspects of her personal story.  She said that through accident and circumstance led to opportunities, journeys, growth and amazing experiences.  What was once a passing interest (in equestrianism) became a central interest.  Deb also spoke about the challenge of confronting a disability.  One of Deb's phrases strongly resonated with me (as someone who has an unseen disability), which was, 'I hadn't learnt to laugh at myself'.

Deb is also an OU student.  She studied at the same time as training.  Deb said, 'study gives you something else to focus on... trying too hard prevents you to achieving what you need to [achieve], it is a distraction in a sense'.  She also emphasised the point that study is can often be hard work.

I've made a note of a final phrase of Deb's (which probably isn't word for word) which is certainly worth repeating; its message is very clear: 'please don't be overwhelmed by people with disability; people coming together [in partnership] can achieve', and also, 'take time to engage with people, you can learn from their stories, everyone is different'.

Workshops

Throughout the conference there were a couple of workshops, a number of which were happening in parallel.  I was only able to attend one of them.  The one I chose was entitled 'Asperger's syndrome: supporting students through timely interventions', facilitated by Martina Carroll.  The emphasis on this workshop was about providing information to delegates and I've done my best to summarise the key points that I picked up.

The first point was that people who may have been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome can be very different; you can't (and shouldn't) generalise about the abilities of someone who may have a diagnosis.

The workshop touched upon the history of the syndrome.  Martina mentioned Leo Kanner (Wikipedia) who translated some work by Hans Asperger.  Asperger's is understood as a developmental disorder that has a genetic basis (i.e. highly heritable). Martina mentioned a triad of impairments: communication difficulties (both expressive and receptive), potential difficulties with social interaction, and restricted and repetitive behaviours.  A diagnosis will be considered to have two out of the three potential impairments.

Martina also touched upon that some people can have exceptional skills, such as skills in memory and mathematics, but again, it is important to remember that everyone is different.  Due to the nature of the triad of impairments, co-existing conditions need to be considered, such as such as stress, anxiety and depression.

A final question is what accommodations can be made for people who have autism? TEACCH (Wikipedia) was mentioned, which is an educational model for schools which has the potential to offer some useful guidance.  One key point is that providing learning materials that have a clearly defined structure (such as the module calendar) can certainly help everyone.

Towards the end of the session, there was some time for group discussions.  The group that I was (randomly) assigned to discussed the challenges of group work, how important it was to try to facilitate constant communication between different people (which include mentors and advocates) and challenges surrounding examinations and assessment.

There are a number of resources that were mentioned that may be useful.  I didn't know this, but the Open University runs a module entitledUnderstanding the autism spectrum (OU website). The module is centred around a book by Ilona Roth called Autism in the 21st Century (publishers website).  Another resource is Francesca Happe's Lecture at the Royal Society, entitled When will we understand Autistic Spectrum Disorders? (Royal Society website) I really recommend this lecture - it is very easy to follow and connects very strongly with the themes of the workshop.  There is also theNational Autistic Society website, which might also be useful.

Performance

The final part of the day was very different.  We were introduced to three stand-up comics.  These comics were not disabled comics, they were comics who just happened to incidentally have a disability.  Comedy has the ability to challenge; it allows others to see and understand instances of people's lives in a warm and undeniably human way.  The 'something' that we all have in common with each other is an ability to laugh.  When you laugh at a situation that is tough and challenging and begin to appreciate the absurdity and richness of life. Tough situations don't seem as difficult anymore; laughter gives you a power to rise above a situation.  In a way, the conference reflects this since it was all about sharing experience with a view to empowering and helping people.

The comics were Steve Day, Liam O'Caroll and Lawrence Clark.  All were fabulous, but I especially enjoyed Lawrence's set which I understand was a show that he took to the Edinburgh Festival.  His set had a theme based on the word 'inspiring'; he successfully sent himself up, along with others who may be inclined to use that word.

Reflections

Julie Young closed the conference by emphasising some of the themes that were explored through the conference.   Julie emphasised the importance of working together to deliver a service for our students and how this is connected with equality and rights.  A key point is that the abilities our students are what really matters.  Julie went on to emphasise the continued need to listen attentively to those who we serve.

With conferences that have multiple parallel sessions you can sometimes feel that you're missing out on something, which is always a shame.  During the lunch break, I heard how other delegates had appreciated hearing from students talking about their experiences of studying at the Open University.  Personal stories allow people to directly connect with the challenges and difficulties that people face, and whilst on one hand there may be successes, there are other situations in which we don't do the best that we can or support for people doesn't arrive on time.  Conferences such as these emphasise the importance of keeping our attention on students with disability whilst at the same time emphasising that different departments of the university need to talk to each other to ensure that we can offer the best possible support.  Talking also permits us to learn more about what we can do to change things, so meetings such as these are invaluable.

I also have a recollection from the previous conference I attended.  I remember talking to someone (I'm not sure who this was) who seemed to express surprise that I was from a 'faculty' (i.e. an academic) as opposed to a part of the university that was directly involved in support of students (I tend to conflate the two roles together).  I was surprised that my presence caused surprise.  Although this year I felt that there were more faculty representatives coming along than perhaps there were before, I do (personally) feel that there should be a broader spectrum of delegates attending.

All in all, I felt that I benefitted from the day.  I met people who I had never met before and the objectives of facilitating communication, sharing practice and re-energising delegates had clearly been met.

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A badger is when you learn most

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 23 Nov 2012, 17:55

Badger%2520for%2520badgers.JPG

Fig.q. It might have been a bad year for badger's but that's not the point.

BBC Radio 4's Bad Year for Gardener's

Thick with cold and in the car unwillingly I wondered why a badger is when you learn most. I'd just turned the radio on so hadn't the context. In a few moments I had it.

It is true, that you learn from disaster, from economic downturn, from making ends meat ... from a death in the family, from making mistakes. Indeed, in many things you learn a good deal in a bad year.

I had a bad year in 1985. The love of my life and I were parting company. I was young. I let it fester. This has been a bad year - my mum year. I'll think of 2012 therefore as the year of the Badger. At least this will put a smile on my face.

Do we really learn from our mistakes?

It rather suggests that our personalities are like plasticine rather than alabaster - that we can and do with ease adjust to the circumstances.

 

 

 

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Last TMA away! Reflections on my nth TMA

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 22 Nov 2012, 14:53

I could reach out and touch that moment I started the MAODE it feels that close ... February 11th 2010.

My last TMA. No panic. A week ago I asked for an extension thinking I hadn't had the time to get my head around the Block. And today I find I've submitted in good time.

Assembled through aggregating notes held here, in the this blog, then written up in Google Docs. I don't have Microsoft Word (indeed I don't have a PC).

On the fifth and final draft I saved out of Google Docs into word and made use of my teenage son's computer.

The word count is 3000. The first draft was 3400. Only the 3rd draft crept up to the 4000 mark as I dropped in a extra couple of paragraphs on a couple of topics I thought important. Then edit hard, dropping a few points that I'd made once and didn't need repeating just because I could add a further name into the reference list.

All referencing was in place from the start. I learnt a while back that it pays to attach all references to your notes as you go along as trying to figure out who said what and where and when later is a nightmare.

The 4th draft was printed off - a rare sight indeed to see paper coming out of my wife's printer.

Proof read, ditch a paragraph. Correct. Word Count. 170 over - trim more are delete headings and subheadings I'd lifted out of the TMA title anyway. A univeral word count up to References therefore gives 2983 words.

I used to struggle with drafts that came in at 6,000 words or more. I used to beg and hope and argue for a 10% lee-way on the word count. I could lose another 500 words in this TMA and it would be better.

How things have changed. I suppose I knew the would eventually.

So that dog will have a walk in daylight and I can think about supper.

Cheerio for now.

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What's going on in there?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 10:34

Fig.1. Self-Portrait - early 1977 - age 15 - 6b pencil drawing on cartridge paper

Before and after ...

Fig.2. Self-Portrait - early 2010 - age 49 - 6b pencil drawing on cartridge paper

But what does it tell you about what is going on in that head? This is what interests me. I am still the boy and always will be. I am the child who can remember his first day at school age 4 years and 11 months, who can remember two nursery schools before that too.

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Flick the arrow and go and do something else for a while

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 22 Nov 2012, 11:36

Twister%2520Flicker%2520Arrow.JPG

Fig. 1. Twister

From time to time I give this a flick - usually when I should be concentrating on an assignment (I am). I just desire to take my head somewhere else for some light relief. For each quadrant put in each of: sport, cooking, fiction (films and novel) and visual arts (drawing, photography)

Today it is the film 'Groundhog Day' - so  a bit of fiction and visual arts in one

This has relevance to learning. There is a moral tale. It even promotes the idea that as a result of effort over time you can be anything. OK, he is an arse for a good while, but then Phil Connors (Bill Murray) learns all kinds of things from 19th Century French poetry to ice-carving, he is a doctor and classical and jazz pianist.

If you know the film, download the script.

Here it is

This is revealing as it gives a half dozen more twists to Phil's antics (good and bad) and gives away the basis of the film - The Frog Prince. He gets tattoos and some biker chicks, carves in stone as well as ice, studies philosophy as well as literature, the drums as well as the piano ... robs a bank as well as the security van and has a long relationship with Nancy until he gets bored with it (and her).

Enjoy

 

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