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Design Museum

H810 Activity 15.1 Assistive Technology

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 19 Oct 2014, 10:55

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Fig.1 Assitive technologies to improve access to e-learning

There are a myriad of hardware and software tools that alongside other assistive technologies a disabled person may use to improve access to learning. As part of the MA in Open and Distance Educaiton (MAODE) module H810 Accessible Online Learning : Supporting Disabled Students we are reviewing the widest range of circumstances and tools - and MBA like applying these to our own contexts.

When I started this course I did wonder if it couldn't be covered in a weekend residential – boy am I mistaken.

So much so that I think it should be a 60 pointer over several more months.

If we can remember back to the Paralympics just think of the vast scale and variety of access issues these athletes had, then add cognitive impairments for which the Olympics are unable to cater - then think of any impairment as a position on a spectrum that includes us - our vision, our hearing, our mobility and cognitive skills are on here somewhere too. Indeed, there are tools that come out of assistive technology that have value to all of us, from automatic captioning, tagging and transcription of video, to screens over which we have greater control. Here area few I picked out:

HEAD POINTERS

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Head pointers need to suit the precise needs, wishes and expectations of the user and may be used in conjunction with other tools and software. A sophisticated package such as TrackerPro costs £1,288 and includes head, visor and shoulder kit, a tracking webcame and software. At this level it can be used to engage with computer games, as well as to use packages designed to suit the users other needs in relation to visual and audio impairment. These packages are supported by assessors.

KEYBOARDS

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Keyboards come in a plethora of shapes, sizes, textures and colours, with various overlays and supporting software for single hand or head pointer use too.

Integrated with screens, wheelchair, hardware and software a market leader for people with considerable mobile impairment, voice and sight impairment such as DynaVox Vmax will cost £9,000. There is considerable online support, with videos too. Setting up and support from an assessor is provided.

Beyond the tools provided with the operating system or browsers which will magnify images to a reasonable degree, there are software bundles such iZoom (PC) £321 and VisioVoice (MAC) £232 with a far greater level of sophistication and adjustment to suit users with sight impairments, dyslexia and mobility requirements. Working with a variety of inputting devices this allows the user to make many kinds of adjustments to the way information is displayed.

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Design Museum

Blogging, aggregating and curation ... Huh?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 22 Oct 2012, 21:38

I am trying to get my head around the idea of 'curation' and how this overlaps with concepts I understand - blogging and aggregating.

This is a blog - you post stuff that can be kept privately (like an e-portfolio then), can be published to the OU community (like an intranet, bulletin board or posting to a social network group or circle - as with Linkedin and Google+ respectively) or published to the world (a very crowded busy world where some 30,000 blogs posts go up every minute, or is that every second?).

To aggregate content is to draw in links either manually by cutting and lasting or by using a number of buttons or tools, from an RSS Feed to Delicio.us. I think of aggregating as portfolio or filing work, private research - however increasingly in a Web 2.0 context we want to share our lists. Some consider Goolge Docs to be an aggregating service, it is a depository, but so is Picasa for images and Drop Box too - so when does a gallery or collection take on different properties?

I use the expression 'aggregation' to describe what happens as comments attach to a blog post.

You write, others comment. Even to 'like' or 'rate' to my mind is a form of aggregating as your point of view is then attached to that item or asset and bring value as an alert to the browser spiders.

Google is pushing me to use a tool to socialise (and for them to exploit) a gallery I keep of some 8,000 grabs and photos.

Why should I want to? If I release or promote the 450 or so images relating to e-learning then I become a curator - I have opened the museum doors. (I also risk copyright infringements as some of this stuff is just me filling content by grabbing screens, whether text or images).

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H810 Activity 14.1 Using assistive technology - reflection on access to learning through acccess to work

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 21 Oct 2012, 14:42


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Fig.1 From 'Access to work' a video from MicroLink

Any of us could or will stumble the first time we are faced with a new tool or piece of software - I'd like to see any of us tested using a tool such as Delicious or ScoopIt and see how we get on, or trying to use a Microwriter, programme the washing machine or even turn on someone else's Microwave.

All experiences become familiar in time if we give them a go or get some useful tips. The same implies whether or not you have a disability or combination of disabilities or not.

To make sense of the plethora of accessibility tools, software and built-in 'assists' - and the equally enormous combinations and varieties of people who may benefit from using them I am having to get into my minds eye four people, or 'personas' who have quite different needs and imagine them, in context, wanting to and trying to use tools that ought to improve access for them. Some intriguingly are likely to suit all users if they offer a short cut or a different way into the information - I prefer a transcript over lectures. I like to use narrator in the car or when busy with some other task like painting the shed - the book is read to me as I can't do what I am doing and look at the screen at the same time. I call this the 'Montesori Effect' - how meeting a learning challenge for one community of learners you gain insights and create tools that benefit everyone.

As for any of us, when it comes to learning, context is important whether we have the space, time, kit and inclination. There is a big difference between giving something a go and having to use it with a set goal in mind. Anyone remember the first time they had to create something using PowerPoint, or Word come to think of it? Or writing a blog - let alone embedding images, video or audio.

Some of this reminds me of my first computer - an Amstrad. All green text and no mouse. My father got himself a Microwriter and mastered it. Bizarre. Confined to a wheelchair (badly broken leg from skiing) for some months in my early teens I ought to have been able to keep up with school work - but somehow a box of books didn't do it for me.

When I get stuck I can now turn to a son, daughter or my wife who may or may not be able to help. We also pick up the phone to 'The Lewes Computer Guy' for technical fixes. Had I a disability how likely is it that I can turn to someone with the very same set of challenges that I face for tips and advice? On some context a blind person will and can turn to a supportive community, but this might not be so easy if you are, or feel like, the only person with Dyslexia or Cerebral Palsy at your schoolor university.

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How long should a video be? A bit like saying should a book have one page or a thousand?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 10 Mar 2013, 00:15


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Fig. 1. Fighting for his life - part of a corporate training series aimed at the emergency services and utility companies to create greater understanding of the need to report incidents as they occur.

Some times 10 seconds is too long for a video - while ten hours doesn't even start to do justice to the speaker or theme.

I wouldn't give extreme views the time of day, on the other hand, I would listen to everything Mandela had to say for hours. Horses for courses.

Stats lie - they certainly require interpretation.

Is a minute or ten minutes of video too much or too little? When do people turn off or tune in to a piece of AV, whether a movie, TV show, video or slide show mocked-up in PowerPoint? 'Death by PowerPoint start for me in this first second.

Research from the Open University shows that people decide whether to continue watching a piece of video in under 35 seconds. This is not the same as a 45 minute lecture from an expert that is required as part of a formal course - though there should always be a transcript. Personally I work between the two and replay if there is something important.

Who needs the research? You can tell intuitively if what you are about to see is of interest or not?

My 35 seconds video? A party balloon is blown up by someone with breathing difficulties. The words on the balloon gradually appear - 'The Cost of Asthma' - the professionally composed and performed music tugs at the heart strings and a professional broadcaster says some pithy words.

My 35 hour video?

Interviews with some if the greatest thinkers alive in the planet today. Vitally, especially online, as producers we offer what is a smorgasbord - the viewer decides what to put in their plate and whether to eat it - and whether to stuff it down or take it in bite-sized pieces.

You had might was well ask 'how many pages should there be in a book?' or 'how many posts in a blog?' It depends on many things: context, budget, goal, resources, subject matter, audience, platform, shelf-life ...

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Beware the 'unhappy valley' of storytelling

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 20 Oct 2012, 20:44

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Fig.1 Beware the 'unhappy valley' of storytelling

I was introduced to this concept at the Open University Business School Residential for 'Creativity, Innovation & Change'. The thought is that in business - and I believe this applies to politics too - you can apply narrative but only take it so far. Case studies work, anecdotes snd short stories too but take care about how far you apply it before you. call on professional input.

Producing narrative drama for training I will plan a treatment then take this to a professional writer - people with credits for drama series or serials. Anything less can sink you into this 'unhappy valley'. This also applies to casting actors and using a director with a track record in drama. What you want is something creditable.

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Design Museum

IQ is QI while curation is something we can all do

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 20 Oct 2012, 20:45

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Fig.1. QI and IQ or Eggor and Ego

Writing in October 2012 - 'curation' as a theme has just been hijaked. Anything goes. Indeed I'd call this the 'Desert Island Discs' of the 21st century.

'If the intention is to encourage engagement then low-quality routes may be more fruitful than seeking to produce professional broadcast material'. Weller (2011)

My notes from last night fester - the value is what my mind involuntarily offers up.

'Low quality individual items because of their obvious ease of production, can be seen as an invitation to participate'. Weller (2011)

You see, a better stimulus for discussion is the innocent suggestion, the niave remark, the foolish error - accepted as thus and corrected by those who are two steps ahead on this learning journey, or better still for me, are on an entirely different journey so skew your thinking in new ways.

Which rather suggests that the idea of sitting through a lecture where someone tells you how it is - is over.

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Curation is a book

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 27 Feb 2014, 07:43

Themes trend, this week it is 'curation' which is why I drove 168 miles to a get–together of e–learning like minds in Bath.

Some contrast to the webinar I sat through the same morning and somewhat counter culture in the era of doing everything remotely. Social media far from killing off socialising, it encourages face–to–face social interaction.

It is one thing to read about curation, even to hear disjointed voices behind a presentation online or share thoughts in messages and quite another to follow a presentation face–to–face, to hear and see the discussion, to relate to the speaker and how they come over. Before, in breaks and afterwards the variety of thoughts, ideas and views is like tipping stuff into the compost bin of my brain – dribs and drabs work for me, even in a small group of people in preference sometimes to the sell–out and packed events hosted by other groups around the country.

A test for anyone who is about to speak is when the technology fails.

If they believe in their subject and know their stuff they are better off without a screen of text, diagrams or examples to play with on the Internet – they do that online. Without any hesitation both speakers presented 'raw' – reflecting on how well this works I wonder if a genre of presentations where speakers go without these visual props and prompts should be encouraged. What you are left with, and all you need, is someone who has some ideas, some experiences and suggestions and a passion for what they do.

Writers, thinkers and bloggers are constantly taking common terms, the meanings of which we feel we understand, and giving them fresh, broader or nuanced meanings.

My understanding of curation is embedded in museums - I overheard the curator of the current superhuman exhibition at the Wellcome Foundation Museum being interviewed by Aleks Krotovski on Tuesday. When I took a picture using my iPad I was approached and politely told that the ‘curator’ asked that people did not take pictures – curator as stage manager and executive producer of a collection of themed objects. The term 'object' itself embracing stills, artefacts, video clips and activities. You curate stuff in a space and set parameters so that an audience of visitors can get their head around what, in effect, has come the curator's mind.

In the bizarre ways that these things happen I recall, age six at most, creating a fossil museum with ammonites found in the low rocky cliffs of Beadnell, Northumberland.

I was a curator, I brought together a themed collection of rocks, set them out in a room and invited people in – no doubt in the back of my mind imagining the glass cabinets and displays in the Hancock Museum, Newcastle.

Neil McGregor of the British Museum with his 100 objects is a curator.

And we now have, from the Quite Interesting team the radio show 'The Museum of the curious' and its host Jimmy Carr.

So 'curation' for me already means many things. I search that externalised part of my own mind, an extensive blog 13 years in the writing, for what I've said or StumbleUpon before regarding 'curation' and find three entries, one prompted by my intention to attend this session and feeding off a visit to the De le Warr and the other two excerpts from Martin Weller's book 'The Digital Scholar'.

In a moment I can scan through my notes, chapter by chapter.

The Digital Scholar Chapter 2

University Functions:

1. Teaching
2. Research
3. Dissemination
4. Outreach
5. Curation
· Change can be quick
· No assumptions are unassailable
· Form and function are different
· Boundaries are blurred.
· We can't wrap libraries and such like in cotton wool if their time is over.
· Global networks, unpredictable environments, rapid response.

Chapter 12 Publishing

· Research
· Authoring
· Submission
· Rejection/modification
· Publication
· Dissemination

WHY?

· Accepted practice
· Academic respectability
· Reward and tenure
· Dissemination
· Curation

If Boyer's four main scholarly functions were research, application, integration and teaching, then I would propose that those of the digital scholar are engagement, experimentation, reflection and sharing'. Weller (2011).

Skimming and skipping about instead of deep reading. Easily distracted, or persuasively detracted. But the overall tenure will be rearing to you hear the narrative.

· British Library Google Generation study (Rowlands et al. 2008)
· Has the need to learn by rote diminished?
· Outsourcing mundane memory to Google.
· Skittish bouncing behaviour Wijekumar et al. (2006)
· Web 2.0 and the 'mass democratisation of expression'.

NB 'low quality individual items because of their obvious ease of production, can be seen as an invitation to participate'. Weller

'If the intention is to encourage engagement then low-quality routes may be more fruitful than seeking to produce professional broadcast material'. Weller (2011)

An online diary or journal over a decade ago, to some a web log and now a blog can embrace curation – 195 posts on blogging and my favourite definition is 'digital paper' – a blog is anything you can do with it. Curation is perhaps therefore, a digital museum, library or gallery? By definition less self–publishing, and more aggregation of the works of others. My teenagers curate images on Tumblr, a tumbling riot of choice images grabbed and reclogged into a visual expression of who they aspire to be, or who they are or the people they want to attract. The museum of the person, for the person rather than a museum by a person for the people. Perhaps this is the answer – blurring the boundaries between blog, gallery, library and museum we each become the curators of the external expression of the contents of our minds forming in total a waterfall of information and ideas. As a reader, visitor or learner you are the fish swimming in this river, dipping in and out and through it. The space is an interplay between what others contribute and what you elect to tangle with.

Curation is more than aggregating stuff, there is a sense of purpose, a theme, even if it is a current in this river, this torrent, this deluge of information – the content is gathered, and presented in a certain way. Someone has made choices on the visitor's behalf. The collection is assembled for a purpose, to change minds, to open heads, to instigate a journey, to act as a catalyst for learning and the creation of understanding.

Whilst blogging implies creating content or self-publishing, curation is aggregating content by one person for others – going out with a broom to sweep autumn leaves into a pile then picking out the russet red ones. It isn't publishing either, these leaves are literally individual pages, not entire books, and they are, in the parlance 'bite–sized' pieces of information.

At what point does it cease to be curation? The London Underground Lost Property Office is not a curated space – this stuff has been pushed into the space, not pulled. Push or pull are key words when it comes to curation, especially where the curation is prompted by the desire to respond to a problem - such as engaging people to take responsibility for their own learning by providing them with a space with blurred boundaries that will contain, more often than not, objects that satisfy and pique their cursory in order that they then go on to construct their own understanding.

As the Radio show indicates we can curate some mighty odd things


Online, comments left by people become objects in this curated space – these are 'items'. They have a permanence, not only that, whether or not attributed, they can be shared, duplicated and reversioned. Whilst you curate them in spaces you control, what happens once the item has been shared on? It may no longer be in such an attractive space at all?

The curator has a multitude of tools.


Google Reader to aggregate content
RSS feeds
Delicious to tag and then into WordPress

The curator doesn't originating content then?

Tell that to ... a History of the World in 100 objects.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/about/british-museum-objects/

Neil McGregor
http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/ahow/all

  • Presenter
  • Curator
  • Trustee
  • Visitor
  • Scholar


Funnelling streams of content into one place, is that curation? Curation is the choices. Curation implies responsibility and power, that choices are being made.

You select Apps and have them on your iPad or iPhone, you may share these choices with others but that is not curation.

What's the difference with a blog then? The diffused nature of the web means that this content - images, video and activities, is itself a form of curation. The curation then is not just the choices, but how they are aggregated and the journey through this environment that you offered.

Curation as keeping a scrapbook. Why should anyone take an interest in stuff that hasn't even come out of your head? Is it not just a step on from clicking a Like button or rating to click at RSS feed and feel as if you are a channel controller.

What takes your interest and why would it be shared? Your choices, if a 'thought leader'.

Compare this to the journalism of Andrew Sullivan.

Sam– online learning for a mega finance co.

Key reason:

  • More connected in and out of the company
  • Understand the technology better
  • Self-development

Opportunities beyond looking for the course list, so looking for relative content to solve their problems.

Sam's list of names:

Howard
Beth Kanter
Seek, Sense, Share – take the pain out of finding content.
http://www.bethkanter.org/content-curation-101/

Robin Good – master curator
http://www.scoop.it/t/digital-revolution-leaderboard

Robin Good on curation
Published on11 Jun 2011byHoward Rheingold

In interview Robin Good, that master of new media (http://masternewmedia.org) about curation -- what it is, what it requires, why it's important, how to do it.

  • Google as MacDonald’s, a bespoke restaurant about curation.
  • Sense making, not just links
  • Learning better and faster from people you know or respect
  • Curiosity as curation, with passion and antennae’s,
  • Knowing the audience, not simply an artist
  • Transparent, citation/links,
  • Mixed tape or DJ
  • Customise

Robin Good on curation

Published on11 Jun 2011byHoward Rheingold2,333 views
22 likes, 0 dislikes
In interview Robin Good, that master of new media (http://masternewmedia.org) about curation -- what it is, what it requires, why it's important, how to do it.

Howard Rheingold
http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=o1IeOzIoRDs&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Do1IeOzIoRDs&gl=GB
see video for what he thinks curation is a DJ  ... when did I coin the phrase BJ.

Breaking Views from Hugo Dixon, got ahead of Reuters, after 8 years they'd had enough and bought him out.

Andrew Sullivan, Journalist,  The Daily Beast 1 million views a month.

Thought Leaders?

Digital Scholar, Martin Weller – 3,000 followers, Book of the name Creative Commons so people can do as they please.

  • Learn for myself, so started with blogs.
  • First Delicious, the Diego +tag, organise with key words and RSS feeds.
  • And various RSS aggregators.
  • 250 curation tools. How do you know which are the best.
  • Scoop It
  • Pinterest
  • PearlTree
  • ReddIt
  • DigIt


vs. a lot of noise.

e.g. 150 blog feeds, RSS feeds aggregated. Getting smarter.

Ran free accounts, and now as Pro Accounts on a landing page.

Still battling with 'why isn't there a course list?'

APP - Paint

LINKS AND COMMENTS

Learn Patch: http://learnpatch.com/2012/10/video-how-can-curation-be-used-in-learning/#comment-36

One the one hand informed people talking without notes or AV is refreshing and challenges you to think beyond what is being said - on the other hand this video answers many of the questions I've been formulating as a blog entry this morning and wraps up a week that has had me immersed in the 'curation' theme, from a discussion with Julian Stodd on Tuesday, coincidently at the RA where there is a stunning exhibition of bronze sculptures to multiple visits to museums and galleries to seek out this connection between an online experience of curation and the real thing. Curation is a form of stage management, even direction, a conscious decision to put some things in and leave others out, to appeal to a visitor or personas with certain needs and expectations. If this journey works, if the story draws them in, then by default they will be changed and therefore have learnt something.

Julian Stodd

https://julianstodd.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/creating-and-sustaining-high-performance-learning-cultures/#comment-1144

'Tell me a story' says the child and if you don't have a book to hand you make one up based on what you know about them, what you can draw upon and what perhaps you'd like them to take from this experience.  The child invites you in, they pull at your knowledge set and want what you can bring to it - they don't always want the book or a familiar story, they want your take on things. Somehow tapping into these reciprocal needs is key to learning that is wanted, is engaging, timely and mutually beneficial. This coming after a week in which 'curation' has been a constant theme.

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Hang on lads, I've had a great idea!

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 18 Oct 2012, 13:30

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Fig. 1. 'Hang on lads, I've had a great idea!' Richard Wilson at the De la Warr

If curation is the way forward to facilitate learning online then the next step will be for each of us to draw on our experiences as a visitors to countless museums and galleries, houses and castles - from the mishaps of a rainy day to the inspired and repeated visits to museum events.

Does this become a journey through your mind?

Is it any wonder that people who demonstrate extraordinary feats of recollection do so by pegging images to a journey through a familiar space?

Might a way to prepare for an exam to create a temporary exhibition of your own?

Where have you been that is worth forgetting or remembering?

For me it should be 'The Tank Museum' in Dorset. We only went because after five days of rain on a 6 day camping holiday we were running out of places to go. Another on the same trip was 'Monkey World'.

Both trips were memorable, 'The Tank Museum' because they had rigged up a First World War Vicker's Machine Gun to a video game so therefore the first time I personally placed my hands exactly as my grandfather would have done - explains why he had thumbs like a Spoonbill's beak.

As for 'Monkey World' - whatever that male monkey was up to on his own up a tree but in full view of visitors took some explaining (or not explaining) to a 10 and 12 year old.

Perhaps the most 'rubbish' trips are the most memorable for that very reason?

Where do you suggest NOT going?!

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Forever curious and soon armed as the flood waters approach

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 18 Oct 2012, 10:24

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Fig. 1. The highest tide in a decade at Piddinghoe Village, East Sussex with the chance of worse in 12 hours time as storm clouds brew at the mouth of the River Ouse.

We live in Lewes.

A friend has a son christened Noah, born this October 11 years ago the day when we woke up to water on the door step. We were lucky, the view down the road looked interesting - the railway line to London was like a canal for toy boats.

I'd just taken the above picture when I was approached by someone in a flourescent jacket from Lewes Council keen for a record of how high the tide had reached and relieved when I pointed to a plank of wood in the river that had paused and was now heading back out to sea ... as if someone had just pulled the plug out of a huge bath.

PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY IN ACTION

  • Storm Surge
  • Spring High Tide
  • Terrible Weather
  • Wind Direction
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What's going on in there? A look at the brain and thoughts on the mind

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 1 Nov 2012, 17:10

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Fig. 1 Intracranial recording for epilepsy.

Robert Ludlow, UCL Institute of Neurology

First the Royal Academy, meeting with the author of 'Exploring the World of Social Learning' Julian Stodd having made the connection on Linkedin a couple of weeks ago, so - read the book, met the author and now we pick over each other's brains - how we learn is a mutual fascination.

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Fig. 2. A doodle of Medusa's severed head in the hand of Perseus

A second viewing of 'Bronzes', this time with a drawing pen and pad of cartridge paper - photography not permitted. I wanted to see if my hand was 'in' or 'off'. Most of my time was spent circling the decapitated body of Medusa.

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Fig. 3. Icarus - far smaller than I imagined (see below for the publicity shot)

On then to the Wellcome Foundation. In this instance I'd taken one snap on the iPad and was approached and politely advised that photography was not allowed.

A guide book for £1 will serve as a suitable aide memoire.

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Fig 4. Aleks Krotoski

Only yesterday I was listening to and enthusing about Aleks Krotoski on 'The Digital Brain' on BBC Radio 4 and blogged about the series so it was with considerable surprise when I overheard her familiar voice and found her at my shoulder about interview the exhibition's curator. I guess therefore that I listened in on part of the content for a future broadcast.

Upstairs I watched an operation to remove a cancerous growth recorded in real-time from the surgeon's point of view, then Project 22 in which a woman photographs everything that she eats as she eats it for one year and one day - age 22.

Once again fascinating.

A selective record of a year. Can a record of an entire be undertaken with some degree of necessary selection? Or could a software algorithm sort it all out for you if a memory enhancing device records everything that you do and experience.

Other than the £1 guide, unusually, I have not come away with bags of books though I would recommend the Blackwells bookstore at the Wellcome Foundation for bizarre stocking fillers - I Liked the 'blood bath' - blood-like bathsalts offered in a surgical drip bag, or highlighter pens as syringes.

 

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How do we memorise? Crucial listening in relation to learning and assessment online.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 16 Oct 2012, 20:35



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LINK: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01h8nnt

Memory - a fascinating and insoired starting point to understand how we remember and what out digital world can do to help or hinder.

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How The OU uses narrative in e-learning - to get your attention and to make knowledge palatable and memorable

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 17 Oct 2012, 09:00

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All links here : http://www.youtube.com/course?list=EChQpDGfX5e7DDGEQvLonjDQsbclAF2N-t

The brilliance of the OU team two years ago produced the 'History of English in Ten minutes' - here we go again with ten one minute long animated vignettes on the great ideas and great thinkers of economists.

Had I seen this as a 17 year old perhaps I would have stuck with a subject that I dropped after a couple of months in favour of History. I like narrative and personalities, indeed storytelling in the form of a biography is an excellent way into a subject - you relate to the person in the story and you get an easy and appealing introduction to the topic.

Getting this right takes skill - a clear brief, excellent script, high production values (artist, animators, voice over) throughout, and of course a budget that makes it possible and an excellent team of prodcers, writers, sound engineers, editors and programmers.

A minute at the top of a piece of e-learning isn't too much to ask is it? It not only attracts interest, but I suggest it helps with retention and enhances the learning experience too.

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The group dynamic in social learning spaces - how do you know who to listen to?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 Nov 2012, 17:17

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Fig 1. Daniel Kahneman

People go with the flow and chose the easy option of agreeing when they are:

  • working on something else that requires a lot of effort
  • in a good mood
  • low on a scale of depression
  • a knowledgeable novice in the subject rather than a true expert
  • powerful, or are made to feel powerful.

From Daniel Kahneman (2011) 'Thinking, fast and slow'. pp134

This gives you pause to wonder about the complexity of what takes place in a social learning environment where people are offering their ideas. You want to hope that falsehoods will be knocked down while truths will be agreed upon, however, depending on the people and how the discussion is moderated you could theoretically end up with the opposite going on. Not only should students in such spaces be advised on how to behave in order to get the 'right' learning outcomes from the experience, but it is vital that the subject matter expect/moderator plays their role scrupulously.

Questions:

  • Is the learner who is an unhappy, powerless expert likely to offer the more objective response?
  • Is a grumpy, depressed subject matter expert who may run a cold class of greater value as an educator than the new college kid who is full of ideas and bounces around like Tigger?
  • And if the happy, succesful novice is heard more often and supported by the community how do you make room to hear from the less confident, sad geek?

Guardian Book Review

 

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Understanding what primes us to behave in a certain way must have impacts on social behaviour

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 Nov 2012, 07:50

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Fig.1. Eyes & Ears - A public awareness film produced featuring the Emergency Services and members of the cast of Byker Grove

Understanding what primes us to behave in a certain way must have impacts on social behaviour, from the London Riots of 2011 and police behaviour at Hillsborough in 1989, through to schooling, training, coaching and e-learning - and of course, how hypnotists play their tricks.

  • Are we so vulnerable and easily led because we cannot think about too much at the same time?
  • How must this influence the savvy learning designer?
  • Surely the context of any learning environment must be highly significant, from the buildings and resources, to your peers?

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Fig. 2. A Oxford Tutorial - now as in the 1950s

  • Do Ivy League and Oxbridge Colleges have a centuries old model that works still in the 21st century?
  • Why do some libraries work better than others and why do we like to meet for coffee or for a drink?
  • Are we primed to open up, to be more or less receptive to ideas?
  • What therefore does the loan learner do studying at a distance, even if they are online?
  • What makes the experience immersive?
  • Synchronous learning in a webinar or seminar?
  • Active engagement in a discussion, multi-choice quiz or virtual world?
  • And how might they prep their context?
  • Close the curtains, dress to study?


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Fig. 3. Thinking, fast and slow

I was introduced to this concept by Daniel Kahneman in his 2011 book 'Thinking, Fast and Slowly' in the Linkedin Group for alumni of the Open University MBA Module 'Creativity, Innovation and Change'.

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How e-learning would benefit from looking at some s-training

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 13 Oct 2012, 16:10
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One tactic used in all swimming training from club squads to the Olympics is the concept of whole-part-whole: to develop the stroke, either to improve skills or strength, you break the stroke into parts. The simplest expression of this is arms only or legs only followed by the full stroke. This is repeated over different distances and whether an aerobic or anaerobic set, against different turn around or repeat times. This is finessed with drills, so taking on of the four competive strokes - frontcrawl backcrawl, breasstroke and butterfly - what might we see?

This morning's Master's set had the following drills: short doggie laddle, long doggie paddle, catchup, touchfloat and closed fist. Each was a 50m drill followed by 50m full stroke. Later we did some arms only sets over 100m against the clock. And we swam sme backstroke and breaststroke for slme variety before some short full strokes sprints on Frontcrawl and a swim down.

How might this translate into a training session or e-learning module?

To start with the module, like a set, would need to change every week, so that there is progression in the challenges set, the skills in technique to demonstrate and even the times to rest or turn around a swim.

There would need to be variety too, which typically means emphasis on a different stroke but inlcudes having a different coach, swimming in a different lane and having different swimmers in the lane with you.

I rarely see such variety or such progressive, long term, planned in progression in learning and development, while many e-learning modules are no better than the leaflet or linear video they replace - they are fixed.

Does this work?

How do you reversion content so that it gets progrossively more challenging at a pace that puts the individual learning just beyond being able to d the thing with ease? Effort matters, easy learning isn't learning, just as a stroll in the park isn't a training run.

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We forget, it's only natural - what can we do about it?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 21 Dec 2012, 08:40

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Fig.1. The Forgetting Curve. Ebbinghaus (1885)

'The psychological conclusion demands a distribution of repetitions such that some of them should be produced at a later time, separated from the first repetition by a pause'. (Vygotsky, 1926)

More recently, in the last ten years in fact, Dr B Price Kerfoot of Harvard Medical School (2006) created a platform called SpacedEd (now Qstream) that uses multichoice questions, typically and most successfully with first year medical students, where sets of questions are randomised then sent out as text or email to tackle, I suppose, what Ebbinghaus (1885) identified with his 'Forgetting Curve'. An evidence based paper on the effectiveness of 'spaced learning' showed how there was better retention three months, six months and a year down the line.

REFERENCE

Ebbinghaus, H (1885) Memory: A contribution to experimental phsychology.

Kerfoot, B, P (2006) SPACED EDUCATION. Interactive Spaced-Education to Teach the Physical Examination: A randomized Controlled Trial.

Vygotsky, L (1926) Educational Psychology

FURTHER LINKS

Formative Tests Aid Retention

 

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Delivering a presentation - with or without bells and whistles

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 11 Oct 2012, 09:42

Develop the craft skills of a storyteller.

Use a creative brief from the outset to nail down the topic, coming up with ideas, flesh out a treatment and deliver a script.

Pace and variety are crucial.

The industry standard creative brief that I have used in a career in advertising, corporate communications and training is:

  • What is the problem?
  • Who are you speaking to?
  • What do you want to say?
  • How should they respond to this message?
  • What else do we need ro know?

Keep this to a single sheet of A4 then hand it to a professional writer/art director team.

Expect back a selection of synopses. Choose one.

Get a treatment from this.

Once approved writing the script is easy.

Only then think of execution.

It pays to have a professional graphics person who can make the platform used sing, or video production, or web design ...

Death by power point is far, far too common.

Be senstive to pace, have variety.

Rehearse and change stuff that doesn't work or is dull.

If in doubt a good presenter should be able to deliver without any AV support as it is the message delivered with conviction, authenticity and enthusiasm that is more important that how slides wipe, or the music track on a piece of video.

There's too much 'death by papermation' out there

Too long, long winded, rambling presentations with the artist trying to keep up and offering nothing at all new other than translating it - about as useful as having someone sign with no one in the audience with a hearing impairment. A literal expression of text is pointless - the imagination does a better job. Rather the images must juxtapose, complement even conflict with what is being said. You are trying afterall to get and retain attention - controversty, irony and inventiveness works.

The software never solves your problem.

Have something worthwhile to say first, then choose from a plethora of delivery mechanisms the one which has the most appropriate fit.

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Some online tutor sessions work, some do not. Some social platforms work, others do not. Why?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 09:58

Gagne (1970 pp29-30) suggests that instruction in an organized group discussion develops the use and generalizaton of knowledge – or knowledge transfer. Oxbridge tutors contend that the 'Oxbridge Tutorial' – a weekly, structured micro-meeting of two or three people, achieves this. One student reads out a short essay that the tutor and students discuss.

'When properly led', Gagne continues, 'such discussions, where the knowledge itself has been initially mastered', not only stimulates the production of new extensions of knowledge by students but also provides a convenient means of critical evaluation and discrimination of these ideas. Gagne (ibid).

Forty years on from when Gagne wrote this there are what are meant to be or hoped to be learning contexts where this kind of knowledge transfer through group discussion can still work – or may fail to work – either because the degree of subject mastery between students is too broad or there are too many students, or the wrong mix of students.

For example, in the Open University's Masters of Open and Distance Education (MAODE) between 12 and 16 postgraduate students meet online in a series of strucutured online tutor forums – some of these work, some do not. As these meetings are largelly not compulsory and as they are asynchronous and online, it is rare to have people in them together – the discussions are threaded. What is more, in any tutor group there will typically be a mixture of students who are on their first, their second, third, fourth or even fifth module of the Master's – some of whom, given the parameters offered by flexible and distance learning, may have spread these modules over five years. Then there is the task and how it is set, whether the participants are meant to work alone or collaboratively – the simplest and most frequent model online is an expectation to read resources and share notes and thoughts. However, personal experience over five such modules suggests that the committed engagement of say six people, working collaboratively on a clear set of tasks and activities with a time limit and climactic conclusion of delivering a joint project, works best.

Too many of these online tutorials drift, or fizzle out: too few posts, posts that are two long, fragmented posts linking to pages elsewhere, the indifference of participants, the lack of, or nature of the tutor involvement, excessive and misplaced social chat, or discussing subjects that are off topic ... It depends very much on the mix, inclinations, availability and level of 'knowledge mastery' as to how such online tutorials work out. As well as the eclectic combination of students the role, availability, online and other teaching skills, even the personality of the tutor and of course THEIR knowledge experience and mastery matters.

Just reflect on how such workshops or seminars may work or fail face–to–face – the hunger for knowledge on the topic under discussion, the mix of personalities and the degree to which their experience or level of understanding is the same, at slight or considerable variance, let alone any differences of culture, background, gender or in a business setting – position and the department they have come from.

Ideally the workshop convener, or what the French call an 'animateur' should, assemble or construct such groups with great care, like a director casting actors to perform a piece of improvisation. Different contexts offer different opportunities. As a graduate trainee in an advertising agency six of us were repeatedly assembled, the various departmental specialists and directors playing roles at specific times – bit players in these scenarios. On reflection, stage management by a team in the HR department had been vital. It is therefore 'stage management' that I consider of significant importance when trying to construct such collective learning experiences online in a corporate setting.

CONCLUSION

Know your players, cast with care, give direction, record what goes on and step in to nudge, re–kindle, stop or start conversations or activities.

REFERENCE

Gagne, R (1970) The Conditions of Learning

ADDITIONAL LINKS

Robert Gagne Wikispaces

Theories of Learning

Cognitive Design Principles

The Nine Events - from Kevin the Librarian

Various Models of learning - Illustrated

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What a noggin ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 9 Oct 2012, 11:56

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Fig. 1. Benzi, after Gianlorenzo Bernini. 'Damned Soul', 1705-07

It has taken me 33 months, my fifth module and x assignments ... 12-16 ? and for the first time three things have happened:

  • The first draft is written with two days to go.
  • The word count is only 100 or so over the limit.
  • I stuck to the treatment.
  • Its a tad journalistic at this stage, but I enjoyed it.

On top of the MA the OU has given me the tools and confidence, and in this case, the knowledge, to write.

Thanks OU!

Off to London for the day.

RA this afternoon for the 'Bronzes' Exhibition, then a presentation in the evening - me talking, 'Use of video in e-learning' at an IVCA meeting.


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New blog post

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Check out this video on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUIYuJ62Qbs&feature=youtube_gdata_player

| was introduced to Francesca Martinez performing on the stand-up comedy circuit by The OU as we are currently doing a module on accessibility to e-learning. Francesca has cerebral palsy - she doesn't let that get in her way. Her brand of sit-down stand-up comedy is infecticious, revealing and timely.

Catch the Saturday 6th September edition of 'The News Quiz'.

Knowing a number of young people with cerebral palsy I know to be more attentive - just because, to varying degrees, they may struggle to get their words out, does not mean they don't have something to say. The other lesson is to be open, to be frank - you have to ask openly with them what they can or cannot do, or would like to do or overcome. Even if I had some professional knowledge of a range of disabilities it will still be necessary to discuss with the individual where they stand - something that may shift week on week, in their favour after operations or against if the disease is degenerative. The difference here compared to the general population is accommodation rather than indulgence - it puts into sharp perspective the young person or parent of a young person who pushes and stretches the bounds of indulgence forgetting that life of necessity includes compromise, and give as well as take.

The barriers to this are time, numbers and comprehension - as well as any inherent risks in relation to the learning environment. As a 'lead educator' - a teacher or coach, you have to respond to the current situation as it unfolds. It helps to have some sense of who the people are, to know where their individual strengths and weaknesses lie.

If time is one issue, then make more time as a result if preparation, even arrange to meet some students earlier if this is possible so that you can fit in a quick word with them.

If numbers are an issue then be slick with registarations, insist on people turning up in good time and if necessary stagger the start - in some situations an assistant or parent should help out, to guide one person or to pick up on some tasks (the issue here is where a young person is very concsciously trying to be more independent). If comprehension and communication are an issue, then do the above - give it more time and find ways to cope with the numbers, then be open and accommodating, use common sense to find or be told the best way to communicate - ideally therefore have some kind of hand-over where you can be introduced to the best way forward. Returning to Francesca Martinez - she held her own and deserved to be on the show - she is funy and spontaneous, blunt and entertaining. She can only be judged on these qualities in this context - access means removing or alleviating barriers to get onto such a stage, it does not mean changing the height if the bar, just as an undergraduate with a disabilitiy starting in higher education having got to this level has to be judged by how they perform, assessed or judged at the same level as other undergraduates. In relation to e-learning this means creating access where there is a barrier, while maintaining standards when it comes to assessment and awarding qualifications.

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Can you think of a memorable learning event when 'the penny dropped'?

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I have sailed for decades and could usually manage a Bolen knot by counting through the required actions. Then, in a yachting class I had it demonstrated and described as a 'gripping knot'. That's all I've needed ever since to tie this knot in a crisis, underwater, upside down or anywhere else - i.e. I needed to know why not just how. The why is the the learning objective.

Other's are coming to me - like the definition of an isthmus and a peninsula because they were beautifully drawn and coloured in - and was followed by a sharp clip around the ear. I was 6 and my older brother had come into the class and I wanted to give him a kiss.

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From iPad to hardback - sometimes you have no choice

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 09:23

Sometimes the only version is a second-hand hardback copy:

in this instance viaAmazon and the University of Bradford

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Can you recommend a good read on learning? A must have however deep we get into the digital ocean?

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Exploring the World of Social Learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 19 Nov 2013, 11:04



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Find it here: Smashwords

There can be no better recommendation to read a book than when its author spots you as a like-mind and invites you to read.

I am halfway through Julian Stodd's 'Exploring the World of Social Learning' and am keen to spread the word to those like me who are studying for a Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) - particularly in H807, H808 and H800 we are asked to learn collaboratively and go understand the dynamics of shared learning spaces online from this blog-cum-bulletin board platform, to student tutors groups and break-out cafes. You may even have made it over to the Open University Linkedin group (go see).

I not only find myself nodding in agreement but better still in Web 2.0 terms I find I keep wanting to pause to explore a thought or theme further, the subject matter embracing learning, social learning and e-learning - while drawing on a professional corporate learning and development background, which makes a valuable change from an academic perspective on social learning in tertiary education.

To do this I return to this my open to all e-portfolio-cum-blog to search for what I have thus far picked up on social learning, learning theories, forums and so on. And to do the same in other people's blogs as hearing these familiar voices helps make better sense of it all.

I should add a grab here of the couple of dozen books I have read in, on and around 'social learning' - I put 'Exploring the World of Social Learning' alongside:

'The Digital Scholar' Martin Weller

'A New Culture of Learning' Douglas Thomson and John Seely Brown

'From Teams to Knots' Yrjö Engeström

'The Now Revolution' Jay Baer and Amber Naslund

via a solid grounding in educational theory that you'd get from Vygotsky's 'Educational Psycology'.

An alternative to, or addition to reading about social learning in an academic papers, that are by definition are several years out of date, rate MySpace above Facebook and fail to mention iPads or Smartphones in the mix.

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Should we call it e-learning anymore?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 7 Oct 2012, 06:18

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It is learning whether you prefix with an 'e', 'm' or 'b' as in - electronic, mobile or blended.

Increasingly the opportunities, particularly with learning on a hand-held computer - 20th century terms for the 21st century smart phone or table - are for 'a' or 's' learning - standing for applied or 'action learning' that is 'situated'.

For example, I use a combination of an iPad or Kindle when coaching swimmers - not just for registers, but to show images from a swim drills book.

I am waiting for the wrist or lapel badge computer - an iPad the size of a Nano or ring. Will these come to be known as 'w' learning or 'r' learning or has 'e-learning' become generic? The Google display will be one to watch.😳

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Letting go of print, going mobile (recumbant would be a better word) and the digital playground that is The OU VLE

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 8 Oct 2012, 12:13

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As I only have an iPad - truly, I exploit all kinds of access points whether or not they are meant for me. Downloading in PDF formats allows me to read stuff offline - not that a connection has been a problem except when below the cliffs here on the South Coast rather than on top of them.

I have come to expect text to be tactile, bigger fonts, a beige background and locked alternatively in portrait or landscape. I expect to be able to highlight, add notes, share at will - and ideally to copy and paste.

I don't believe H810 was designed paper up then put online so the idea of reverse engineering poses a problem if anyone thinks printing off will solve a problem. It might be like trying to unscramble an egg - just as I can't imagine World of War Craft as a board game or the X factor as a book. Five modules in on the MAODE and I now trust everything to be on the screen and that treating the VLE as a virtual playground works - stuff you played on yesterday will be there tomorrow and you might even bump into others on the swings and you tutor at the top of the slides.

Trying to grab it all fails - in any case, the resorces are often a smorgasbord of offerings and suggestions, you are invited to try some of it, not to take it all home in the boot of your car.

I printed off most of a H800 and it did my head in - eventually I felt like someone with a fullyladen shopping trolley trying to learn to paraglide. I see a pile of autumn leaves - how do you file them. I got fed up with the paper, the printer, the files and file dividers.

If I draw a lesson from our respective experiences it is that we are entering this course of study. at various different stages and whatever barriers there may be for us they are seen through yet another prism or lens if you also have one, or a number of disabilities. I back up nothing - it is all online. The files are in the bin

 

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