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The OU and the BBC

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 22 Nov 2012, 11:21

In case you didn't know -

some people wonder what happened to the OU Broadcasts in the dead of night - you know, the bloke with unkempt hair and a long bear, in a stripey cheese-cloth shirt and sandals talking through a daigram on a flip chart.

'Regarded as Britain’s major e-learning institution, the OU is a world leader in developing technology to increase access to education on a global scale. Its vast ‘open content portfolio’ includes free study units on OpenLearn, which has had more than 23 million visits, and materials on iTunes U, which has recorded over 56 million downloads. The OU has a 41 year partnership with the BBC which has moved from late-night lectures in the 1970s to prime-time programmes such as Frozen Planet, Bang Goes the Theory, James May’s Big Ideas and The Money Programme'.

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A contextualised model of accessible e-learning practice in higher education institutions

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

A contextualised model of accessible e-learning practice in higher education institutions

http://ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet22/seale.html

 

 

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Writers on writing

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 21 Nov 2012, 05:36

Writers on writing

uhttp://www.nsrider.com/quotes/writing.htm

 

Kurt Vonnegut: 8 Basics of Creative Writing

 

http://www.writingclasses.com/InformationPages/index.php/PageID/538


Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut created some of the most outrageously memorable novels of our time, such as Cat’s CradleBreakfast Of Champions, and Slaughterhouse Five. His work is a mesh of contradictions: both science fiction and literary, dark and funny, classic and counter-culture, warm-blooded and very cool. And it’s all completely unique.

 

With his customary wisdom and wit, Vonnegut put forth 8 basics of what he calls Creative Writing 101: *

 

  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

 

The greatest American short story writer of my generation was Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964). She broke practically every one of my rules but the first. Great writers tend to do that.

 

* From the preface to Vonnegut’s short story collection Bagombo Snuff Box

Writing Tips from the Masters

http://www.writingclasses.com/InformationPages/index.php/PageID/269

REFERENCE

Vonnegut, Kurt Vonnegut, Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons 1999), 9-10.


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Visualising social learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 20 Nov 2012, 11:09

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Fig.1 My mother sketching one of us c 1974

Imagine taking a desk and chair and sitting down in the concourse of Liverpool Station with a large computer screen. You are researching and writing up an assignment. People are going to look over your shoulder - some will contribute.

What makes this more or less likely to happen?

I used to sit and draw. This attracted attention. Sometimes I would draw people who sat for me - I was 'getting my hand in' for an A Level in art.

If my mother, an art teacher, were around then she would offer some gentle suggestions, sometimes taking out a sheet of paper to show me how.

Would you like someone to look over your shoulder?

With family around this is inevitable, from the indulgent love of a grandparent and the snidde teasing (potentially) from a sibling.

  • Where do we recreate such ways to learn online?
  • What more can we do to facilitate this?
  • What is it about the human nature to help each other along?
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H810 - Evaluating accessibility : e-learning scrutinised

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 19 Nov 2012, 12:34

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Fig. 1. Evaluating accessibility - H810

All of this can be multi-layered, more like petals of a rose that a poster-sized mind-map.

It is of course an iterative process too - things get shifted about all the time. Exported as a TEXT document it becomes the first draft of an assignment. At a glance I can see there are 6 or 7 main themes here, though a substantial part of my thinking will be around the ideas of usabilty and accessibility and whether universal design is more appropriate than highly focused user centred design.

I thought I could offer a PDF version here - apparently not. Clicking on it will allow a download that can then been zoomed and should remain legible.

Not an assignment, but can something like this work in a piece of work for evaluation?

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New blog post

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

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Fig.1 Baked veggies - assorted everything and oodles of spices and seasoning.

This looks pretier than my flabby belly, but going from 90kg to 84kg in the last 12 months could be my most valuable legacy of the Open University.

Let me explain.

This is year two of a postgraduate degree in open and distance education (MAODE). Finding appealing the jobs ad at the bottom of our VLE (this) for someone to do social media for the Open University Business School (I blog a lot, I do social media, I've been active online since ... the mid 1990s I suppose, with a blog since 1999). Anyway, they say yes and then I think 'oops'.

'Oops' finds me staying with a lovely family in Milton Keynes during the week.

A home. And Mum who is a neutrionist (also works at the OU)

She is much more than this, the 'good life' writ large with a garden that is a small holding. It isn't just food, it is a way of life.

The sceptic at some stage shares a medical crisis - cholesterol at 7.7 and the prospect of a lifetime popping a pill (Statins).

She says 'no'.

My wife (medical market research - she knows her pills) also says 'no'.

The answer is a radical change in diet.

I run with it. No question. Just go with it.

Out comes red meat (most of the time), all dairy and other suprising things. I ditch what I thought was a healthy bowl of muesli every morning with soya milk for plain porridge as the truth was the calories in the fruit muesli were huge.

So vegan for breakfast, vegetarian for lunch ... and to start with, perhaps a piece of chicken (no skin) more likely fish in the evening. I have rice milk in coffee. I very rarely touch cheese. Some of my favourite things are totally out - like duck sad like cassoulet.

A year on fish as the dish - helped by the fish landed fresh every day at Newhaven.

We're inb Lewes, East Sussex. I shop for the week and freeze cod, turbot, skate wings, mackeral et al.

A year on I return to the doctor for a blood test - Cholesterol 6.6.

Still too high, but achieved without a pill. My weight is down from 14 stone something to 13 stone something.

A teen vegetarian daughter is benefiting from a father's new found love for cooking all things veggie. My wife too has shed many pounds too. Our son gets the meat budget.

I'll graduate next year, but what may matter more is better health and a less indulgent view of food.

And I solve a life-time medical problem.

I am allergic to white flour.

Periods of nausea and asthma attacks

Six years ago the NHS had me at the top of the list to see a nutrionist then pulled the plug.

 

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H810 : Activity 24.1 Navigability of new media - haven't we moved on a bit since 1998?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 7 Feb 2013, 06:41

It is well known that the average quality of websites is poor, “lack of navigability” being the #1 cause of user dissatisfaction [Fleming, 1998; Nielsen, 1999].

Should a link from a reference that gives dated commentary such as this be given in a contemporary piece of e-learning on accessibility?

My frustrations may be leading to enlightenment but when a subject such as e-learning is so fast moving it is laughable to find yourself being referred to comentary published over a decade ago, and so potentially first written down 13 years ago.

At times I wonder why the OU doesn't have a model that can be repeatedly refreshed, at least with every presenation, rather than every decade when the stuff is replaced wholesale. They need a leaner machine - or at least the Institution of Educational Technology does.

I did H807 Innovations in e-learning in 2010 - it has now been replaced by H817 - at tmes H807 told me LESS about innovations in e-learning that I picked up myself working in the industry creating innovative online learning and development in 2000/2001 while my tutor struggled with the online tools sad that was then.

Here we go again, not from the resource, but from someone cited in it :

In 1999, in anticipation of Special Educational Needs and Disability Rights in Education Bill (SENDA), funding was obtained to employ a researcher for 2 days per week over a 6 month period to produce a concise usable guide to the factors which must be taken into account in order to produce accessible online learning materials.

I don't want to know or need to know - all of this should be filtered out.

There needs to be a new model for publishing academic papers - quicker and perishable, with a sell by date.

In fairness, in this instance, I am quoting from a reference of a 2006 publication that is a key resource for H810 Accessible Online Learning. But I have now found several specialists cited in Seale's publication on accessibility who say very different things in 2007 and 2011 respectively compared to how they are referenced in papers these two wrote in 1996 and 2001.

For example, compare these two:

Vanderheiden, G. C., Chisholm, W. A., & Ewers, N. (1997, November 18). Making screen readers work more effectively on the web (1st )

Vanderheiden, G. C.(2007) Redefining Assistive Technology, Accessibility and Disability Based on Recent Technical Advances. Journal of Technology in Human Services Volume 25, Issue 1-2, 2007, pages 147- 158

The beauty of our WWW in 2012 is that a few clicks and a reference can be checked and the latest views of the author considered, yet the module's design doesn't instigate or expect this kind of necessary refreshing.

The other one to look at is:

Stephanidis et al. (2011) Twenty five years of training and education in ICT Design for All and Assistive Technology.

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Happy to be a ... florist

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 16 Nov 2012, 07:16

CGHappinessshortform500pxjpg

I found this fascinating. Kirstie Donnelly of City & Guilds introduced it at a presentation yesterday. I guess if we can't be a florist we can at least grew flowers in our garden?

http://www.cityandguilds.com/About-Us/Broadsheet-News/November-2012/Careers-Happiness-Index-2012

 

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What happens when you ask an author to sign your copy of their eBook?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 15 Nov 2012, 20:49

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Fig.1 hard copy and e-book 'The New Learning Architect'

I hadn't meant to acquire a paper back copy of the New Learning Architect, it was more a question to an author. How do you sign an eBook? I had thought a screen-grab, import into Brushes then offer the stylus. I'll try that one next time.

Instead Clive offered me a copy of the book - he insisted. I may struggle with paper.

Launching into my second read I can perhaps tackle this differently - physically writing in the notes from the e-version?

Plenty from the presentation to value and not the time to develop a conversation other than reflecting on how the industry has shifted over the last decade or two, only now finally realising our great hopes of the past.

It's still learning, even if training is now called 'Learning and Development'.

An insightful, timely and valuable morning. Much to build on. The right place to be to get your head around learning on a globa scale for a global audience.

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Ditch the tricksy technology and hire a brilliant speaker.

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Yes, So followed the AGM. Did the Webinar. Downlaoded Xerte.

Now trying to build more than a Power Point Slide Show.

Odd that, the very first effort I made to create a piece of learning was called 'How to make a slide presentation'. I shot it on Sony Reel-to-Reel kit - I was 17.

Page turning, next clicking ... we moved on in the early 1990s with interactive DVD.

It frequently feels that we go two steps forward, then seven back.

I look at some online learning and think - 'Give me a pop-up book'! It would be better.

I'm yet to see or experience anything as engaging as an Audi engine in 3D interactive animation as part of a tool for training mechanics.

There is rich e-learning ... and poor e-learning.

I'm hard to please - judging this stuff for a national panel every decade does this to you.

You expect the extraordinary at every turn, but it very rarely is.

The simplest way to get extraordinary?

Ditch the tricksy technology and hire a brilliant speaker.

P.S. I don't call the OU tricksy - I call it effective. It works. What I expect in e-training is something a bit more inspired.

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Neil Gower Illustrator - Inspiration for visualisers

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Neil Gower illustrator talking about design a cover for Lord of the Flies and flicking through his sketch pad.

Inspiration for visualisers

 

 

 

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Frog - Dreamstime Photo Gallery / Agency

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 13 Nov 2012, 04:58

Free Stock Photography: Frog. Image: 230177
© Photographer: Paul-andré Belle-isle | Agency: Dreamstime.com

Join Dreamstime and there are tens of thousands of FREE to use images. If you want the fancy stuff there is a fee - either a monthly subscription, or purchase of a minimum of credits. A stunning image may cost 11 units. You must purchase a minimum of 110 units which costs £66.

There's a different platform that allows you to spend just the units required for a single purchase - I was convinced enough by some image that I paide £1.57 or some such.


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Harry Potter underwater sequences

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Harry Potter underwater sequences created by Framestore

How it was done. Brilliant.

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h810 Activity 21.1 Scripting for the visually impaired

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 10 Nov 2012, 06:32

1) Find an example of an online learning resource from your own context that has plenty of visual content that might need to be described for a visually impaired student.

Teaching breaststroke : symmetrical whip kick and glide, arms in front of the shoulders during the pull, head still looking no further than in front of your hands.

Coach Marlins - my swim teaching and coaching blog.

A personal resource, reflection on swimming (masters) and coaching for Mid Sussex Marlins Swimming Club.  A first step towards creating a mobile resource. Below is an excerpt from a typical morning teaching four groups - three grade groups (4.5.7) typically 7 - 11 year olds) and a disability swimming group of children and adults.

See 'The Swim Drills Books'

The introduction read here : YouTube

Grade 7 are technically superior and have more stamina and may be a little older. The ones I watch out for are the 7 year olds in with 10 and 11 year olds as they need a different approach, TLC and play.

WARM UP

  • 3 x 50m warm up of front crawl and backstroke

Always giving a tip before starting them off (and accommodating the odd swimmer who is invariably late), say 'smooth swimming' or 'long legs'. i.e. reducing splashing and creating a more efficient swimmer.

  1. Make sure too that there is a 5m between each swimmer.
  2. 25m of Breaststroke to see what I've got and potentially adjust accordingly.

LEGS

Breastroke%2520breathe%2520kick%2520glide%2520drill%25207.JPG

  • Kick on front with a kicker float.
  • Taking tips from 'The Swim Drill Book'
  • I remember to put as much emphasis on keeping the chin in.

The glide is key - this is where to put the emphasis.

  • May start the 'Kick, Pull, Glide' or better 'Kick, Pull, Slide' mantra to get it into their heads.

ARMS

 

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Standing demo of the arm stroke, from Guzman, forming an equilateral triangle and keeping the fingers pointing away.

  • Will 'describe' the triangle poolside then ask what it is and what kind of triangle.
  • Anything to get them to think about it a little.

Breaststroke%2520poolside%2520drill%25202.JPG

  • I show this as a single action.
  • Other things I might say include 'heart shaped' *(upside down).
  • And making a sound effect 'Bu-dooosh' as I push my arms out.

Breastroke%2520poolside%2520drill%25203.JPG

Repeat the need for a pronounced glide, even asking fo a 2 second count (one Mississippi, two Mississippi)

I support by showing images from 'The Swimming Drill Book' on an iPhone or the Kindle

Leading into the turn we do in sequence (from the shallow end):

    • Push and glide for count of 5 seconds
    • Same, then add the underwater stroke and See how far you can go.

Legs Only Drill (Advanced)

Arms outstretched above the head. No kicker float

  • The whole BR transition counting 3,2,1.

2) Use the resources for this activity to help you to decide which visual content needs describing.

  • The objects that need describing might be photos, diagrams, models, animations and so on.

In the resources I was impressed by the clear, logical, analytical description of some of the complex bar charts, flow charts, pie charts and others. This is how all descriptions should be. In 2010 or 2011 the BBC reviewed how weather forecasts were delivered. It was determined that they were far too flowery. A plainer, clearer approach - overview, identified the region, immediate and forecast weather. Move on. Much more like 'The Shipping Forecast' was wanted and worked better. No more 'weather-caster personalities' then. It isn't entertainment, it is information.

3) For those objects that need describing, decide what kind of description would be needed.

'Before beginning to write a description, establish what the image is showing and what the most important aspects are'. UKAAF

'Consider what is important about the photograph in the context of how the image is going to be used, and how much detail is essential'. UKAAF

In swimming, any description of these visuals should emphasise the purpose of the action, the key action in relation to the physics and physiology of the pull, the action in relation to the rules of competitive swimming.

  • Keep it simple
  • Get to the point
  • Choose the right words

4) Choose two visual objects and write a description of each.

Kick without a float. Arm pull practice standing in water or on the side of the pool.

If you can, ask someone who has not seen these visual objects to read your descriptions. Then show them the object and the context. What was their reaction? (If you have online tools to share visual resources, ask another student in your tutor group to do this activity with you.)

5) Which aspects of this task were straightforward?

Knowing that gender is irrelevant. Putting it in context.

6) Which aspects of the task were difficult?

Care not to use terms or metaphors that the swimmer may not be familiar with if they have never seen them.

Reading text on a diagram and wanting to shut my eyes so that I can hear the description without the image. Need to use screen reader or record and play back.

'Remember that blind or partially sighted people cannot skim read, so let them know how long the description is likely to be'. UKAAF

Knowing what to leave out, being confident to leave something out then knowing how to handle it.

'It is important that information provided for sighted people is also made available to blind and partially sighted people, even if the way the information is given is different'. RNIB (2009)

An author should write with a single reader in mind - in this instance while visual impairment is the modus operandi - they are first of all a swimmer or swim teacher/assistant - so the description must be given with this in mind, which in turn defines the writing/editing process of what to put in or what to leave out.

7) What else might have helped you to do it more easily or helped to improve your descriptions?

Physically moving the student athletes arms and legs through the positions. With their consent, allowing a visually impaired swimmer lay the hands on the arms then legs of someone as they go through the movement.

  • An artist's manikin or a jointed doll, male or female action figure,
  • Braille embossed outline.

'However converting a visual graphic to an appropriate tactile graphic is not simply a matter of taking a visual image and making some kind of "tactile photocopy". The tactile sense is considerably less sensitive than the visual sense, and touch works in a more serial manner than vision. Therefore the visual graphic needs to be re-designed to make sense in a tactile form for blind and partial sighted readers'. RNIB (2009)

In some subjects, interpreting an image or diagram could be a key skill that students are expected to learn.

Drill-down organization

Descriptions should follow a drill-down organization, e.g., a brief summary followed by extended description and/or specific data. Drill-down organization allows the reader to either continue reading for more information or stop when they have read all they want.

Keeping this logic rather than imaging the sighted eye skipping about the page, so I imagine I am not allowed to lift the stylus from the screen ... it has to be ine continuous, logical flow. Constructing a narrative would add some logic to it as well.

10) Can descriptions be done in such a way that you are not giving students the answers?

This was an interesting and relevant point regarding humorous cartoons 'Cartoons and comic strips need to be described if necessary. Set the scene of the cartoon without giving away the joke Provide a brief overview of the image.'

The same therefore applies to 'giving the answer' - treat it as the punch line but leave it out. and like a quiz book say, 'answers on page x'.

11) What do you think your strategy would be if you can’t find a way to give a description without compromising the learning outcomes?

Script differently - this is after all a different audience - and all students are ultimately an audience of one. Perhaps all resources will become highly personalised in future?

12) How can providing descriptions be included in the workflow process of delivering an online module? (This was touched on in the discussion for Activity 17.3.)

  • I liked this quotation:

"When organisations send me information in formats that I can read myself it allows me to be independent, feel informed and appreciated - just like every other customer." End-user UKAAF

From Describing images 2: Charts and graphs

  • Definition of print disability
  • A print-disabled person is anyone for whom a visual, cognitive, or physical disability hinders the ability to read print. This includes all visual impairments, dyslexia, and any physical disabilities that prevent the handling of a physical copy of a print publication.

REFERENCE

RNIB Tactile Images : http://www.rnib.org.uk/professionals/accessibleinformation/accessibleformats/accessibleimages/Pages/accessible_images.aspx

RNIB Image Descriptions : http://www.rnib.org.uk/professionals/accessibleinformation/accessibleformats/accessibleimages/imagedescriptions/Pages/image_descriptions.aspx

Gould, B., O’Connell, T. and Freed, G. (2008) Effective Practices for Description of Science Content within Digital Talking Books [online], National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM), http://ncam.wgbh.org/ experience_learn/ educational_media/ stemdx (last accessed 10 November 2012).

UK Association for Accessible Formats (UKAAF) (undated) Formats and Guidance: Accessible Images [online], http://www.ukaaf.org/ formats-and-guidance#accessible (last accessed 10 November 2012).

University of Aberdeen (undated) Keep It Simple [online], http://www.abdn.ac.uk/ eLearning/ accessibility/ checklist/ keep-it-simple/ (last accessed 10 November 2012).

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What's the point of a portfolio? Whether online or at home in your desk?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 7 Feb 2013, 06:44

Balancing%2520two%2520faces%2520of%2520eportfolios.JPG

Fig. 1. The two faces of e-portfolios. Barrett (2010).

Think of an e-portfolio in terms of:

  • Workspace
  • Showcase
  • Specific academic fields
  • A Learning journey

Evidence (content):

  • Writing
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Research projects
  • Observations by mentors and peers
  • Reflective thinking

(Butler 2006, p. 2) My view is that these tasks, or affordances, are better and well managed by a blog. During 2010 while in my first year of the Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) not only were we encouraged to use the OU Student Blog platform, but we were also encourages to use the OU eportfolio MyStuff.

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Fig. 2 Müllschlucker

I dutifully 'dumped' and labelled content, even sorted it in an effort to write assignment using this system. I would liken it to a Müllschlucker - a rubbish shoot in a tall appartment block (Isn't the German for it such a great word?)  - it made grabbing and dumping stuff easy. What was far harder was to sift through this content and create meaning from it  a a later date. It didn't have enough of me about it most of the time to trigger recollections. We got a warning that MyStuff would be killed off - I made a stab at sorting through what I'd put there, but like boxes of papers in a lock-up garage I was more relieved when it was over. I also tried a couple of external e-portfolio services: Peppblepad and Mahara for example. I tripped up quickly as the learning curve was too steep for me - and why duplicate what I was enjoying with WordPress?

I'm about to cook a lasagna, so why give me a pick-axe? Or, I want to make a toasted sandwich so why give me a MagiMix? All tools need to be carefully promoted, demonstrated then used in a sandpit with careful instruction and support. Basic scaffolding in other words.

"The overarching purpose of portfolios is to create a sense of personal ownership over one's accomplishments, because ownership engenders feelings of pride, responsibility, and dedication." (Paris and Ayres, 1994,p.10).

"The e-portfolio is the central _and common point for the student experience. It is a reflection of the student as a person undergoing continuous personal development, _not just a store of evidence." (Rebbeck, 2008) Process (a series of activities) Product (the end result of the process) Blogging and keeping an e-portfolio are synonymous

A web-log, or blog, is an online journal that encourages communication of ideas, and individual entries are usually displayed in reverse-chronological order. Barrett  (2010, p6)

Blogs provide an ideal tool to construct learning journals, as discussed by Crichton and Kopp (2008) from the University of Calgary, ‘... that eJournals help to make ePortfolios more authentic and relevant to the students’ lives.’

Workspace or Working Portfolio. Washington Stage University.

  • Or (digital) shoebox.
  • Presentation Portfolios, showcase or ‘showtime.’

John Dewey (1933) discusses both retrospective (for analysis of data) and prospective modes of reflection (for planning). Beck and Bear (2009) studied reflection in the teaching cycle, comparing how pre-service teachers rated the development of their reflection skills in both formative and summative e-folios. E-portfolio%2520based%2520learning%2520KOLB.JPG Fig. 3. JISC (2008) Effective Practice with E-portfolios. Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) on behalf of JISC. (Page 11)

Reflection is the "heart and soul" of a portfolio, and is essential to brain-based learning (Kolb, 1984; Zull, 2002). Once we have looked back over our body of work, then we have an opportunity to look forward, setting a direction for future learning through goals... reflection in the future tense. Barrett  (2010, p3)

Blogs are organized in reverse chronological order; most showcase portfolios are organized thematically, around a set of learning goals, outcomes or standards. Both levels of reflection and organization are important, and require different strategies for supporting different levels of reflection.

REFERENCE

Barrett, H. (2010). Balancing the Two Faces of ePortfolios. Educação, Formação & Tecnologias, 3(1), 6-14. [Online], Available online: http://eft.educom.pt (Accessed 29 SEPT 2010) http://electronicportfolios.org/balance/ (Accessed 4 NOV 2012) Updated version http://electronicportfolios.org/balance/Balancing2.htm (Accessed 4 NOV 2012)

Beck, R. & Bear, S. (2009) "Teacher's Self-Assessment of Reflection Skills as an Outcome of E-Folios" in Adamy & Milman (2009) Evaluating Electronic Portfolios in Teacher Education. Charlotte: Information Age Publishers.

Beetham, H. (2005) e-Portfolios in post-16 learning in the UK: Developments, issues and opportunities www.jisc.ac.uk/media/ documents/themes/elearning/eportfolioped.pdf Bruce, L (1994) Self-Assessment (Last accessed 4Nov2012) http://ozpk.tripod.com/000000selfassess

Butler, P (2006)  Review of the Literature on Portfolios and Eportfolios.  eCDF ePortfolio Project. Massey University College of Education. Palmerston North, New Zealand Crichton, S. and Kopp, G. (2008) "The Value of eJournals to Support ePortfolio Development for Assessment in Teacher Education." Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New York City, March 24–28, 2008.  An updated version of this paper was published by the British Columbia Ministry of Education, Innovations in Education, 2nd Edition, April 2011. Available online (PDF of book); Printable version of revised article: balancingarticle2.pdf

Dewey,J. (1933) How we think. How we think: A restatement of the relation of reflective thinking to the educative process. (1971 ed.). Chicago:Regnery

JISC (2008) Effective Practice with E-portfolios. Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) on behalf of JISC.

Kolb, D. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Paris, S., & Ayres, L. (1994). Becoming reflective students and teachers. Washington D.C.: American Psychological Association. Rebbeck, G (2008) e-Learning Coordinator, Thanet College, quoted in JISC, 2008). Zull, J. (2002). The Art of Changing the Brain. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing

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An evening marching with Commercial Square Bonfire Society, Lewes

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Pictures only - marching with the grand procession through the town of Lewes with one of the six bonfire societies.

Pics Here : mymindbursts

My excuse?

Playing with the idea that if one image is worth a thousand words, then 32 must be worth ...

 

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Marching on November 5th in Lewes, East Sussex

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 7 Nov 2012, 12:04

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Fig.1. Preparing to march - Commercial Square Bonfire Society - Lewes, East Sussex

You move to Lewes and once a year you find yourself dressed up with several thousand other people in the town. We alternate between Buccaneers, Confederate Soldiers or Smugglers. You go out as families, meet up with friends then during and between seven marches - starting at 5.15pm with the last procession at 11.30pm - you drop in to eat, stop to eat, go to 'your' pub ... and carry in quick rotation a dozen or so burning torches. You must be dressed correctly. You must march in threes. You have to replace any torch that goes out immediately.

The atmosphere in the town since 2.00pm is carnival time. All parking places are suspended so streets are clear. Schools close early or have the day off. Business close early. Shops on the procession routes board up the windows.

The hub is the town war memorial, while the six societies (or is it seven now), each fan out to different parts of the town for their bonfire and fireworks display.

What's this got to do with learning?

Experiential - Tom Paine, Martyrs burned at the stake, The Gunpowder Plot and remembrance of the fallen at the Town War Memorial. Not so sure about the dressing up though - Confederate Soldiers, Zulu Warriors, 'Red Indians' (sic), Monks, Smugglers, Victorian Ladies and assorted others ...

A sense of community?

We came to the town with a 2 and a 4 year old in 2000 and were promptly enrolled.

More photos from last year HERE

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Reflection on keeping an OU Blog

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 7 Feb 2013, 07:04

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Fig. 1. The Open University's Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE).

Expressed as a Wordle. A personal collection of key influencers based on those tagged in this blog. Includes my own reading and indulgences.

On Friday, at midday, this blog reached a significant milestone.

I've been at it for 33 months. I've blogged the best part of FIVE modules now - most of which required or invited some use of the blog platform (or another). I required little encouragement - I used to keep a diary and have found since 1999 that in their digital form they are an extraordinarily versatile way to gather, consider, share and develop ideas.

The investment in time, on average, an hour a day in addition to - though sometimes instead of coursework over 1000+ days.

(This excludes 8 months I spent on the Masters in Open and Distance Learning in 2001)

To mark this event, and as I need to go through this online diary, this e-journal, this 'web-log' (as they were also once momentarily called) ahead of some exciting meetings coming up next week I thought a simple task might be to click through the tags to identify who have been the key influencers in my reading and thinking over the last two and a half years.

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Fig.2. Another way of looking at it. Betham, Conole and Weller are key MOADE authors from the Open University. John Seely Brown is a vital undercurrent, Engestrom one of several enthusiasms like Vygostky. While Gagne, second hand hardback, needs to be on your desk for frequent reference.

What I thought would take an hour has taken nearly 40 hours.

Clicking on a tag opens a corner of my head, the notes take me back to that day, that week, that assignment or task. It also takes me back to the discussions, resources and papers. And when I find an error the proof-reader in me has to fix. Aptly, as we approach November 5th, and living in Lewes where there are marches and fireworks from late October for a couple of weeks peaking of course all evening on the 5th, my head feels as if someone has accidentally set light to a box of assorted fireworks.

Just as well. Meetings these days are like a viva voce with eager ears and probing questions - they want the content of my mind and whatever else I bring to the subject after thirty years in corporate training and communications.

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Fig. 3. Wordle allows you to say how many words you want to include in the mix. To create weight I had to repeat the names I consider most important twice, three or four times in the list. I also removed first names as Wordle would have scattered these into the mix independently like peppercorns in a pan of vegetable stock.

The Task

  • List all authors who have been part of my learning and thinking over the last couple of years.
  • Include authors that my antennae have picked up that are relevant to my interest in learning, design, the moving image and the english language.
  • Visualise this and draw some conclusions

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Fig.4. This even makes three of the key protagonists look like an advertising agency Gagne, Beetham and Conole.

The Outcome

I can never finish. Take this morning. I stumble upon my notes on three case studies on the use of e-portfolios from H807 which I covered from February 2010-September 2010. To begin with I feel compelled to correct the referencing in order to understand the value, pertinence and good manners (let alone the legal duty) to cite things correctly. (Even though this post was locked - a 'private' dump of grabs and my thoughts).

Then I add an image or two.

These days I feel a post requires a visual experssion of its contents to open and benefits from whatever other diagrams, charts or images you can conjure from your mind or a Google Search - 'the word' + images creative commons - is how I play it.

David%2520Ogilvy%2520Bentley.JPG

Fig. 5. From David Oglivy's book 'Ogilvy on advertising' - a simple suggestion - a striking image, a pertinent headline and always caption the picture. Then write your body copy.

A background in advertising has something to do with this and the influence of David Ogilvy.

 

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

I spend over two hours on the first of three case studies in just one single post. At the time I rubbished e-portfolios. The notes and references are there. Tapped back in I can now make something of it. A second time round the terms, the ideas - even some of the authors are familiar. It makes for an easier and relevant read. What is more, it is current and pertinent. A blog can be a portfolio - indeed this is what I'd recommend.

From time to time I will have to emerge from this tramp through the jungle of my MAODE mind.

Not least to work, to sleep, to cook and play.

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Fig. 6. In a word

USEFUL LINKS

Wordle

Date duration calculator

REFERENCE

Gagne, R.N. (1965) Conditions of Learning Holt, Rinehart and Winston

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Constructivism and social constructivism for learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 5 Jun 2014, 05:29

Constructivism is an epistemological belief about what "knowing" is and how one "come to know." Contructivists believe in individual interpretations of the reality, i.e. the knower and the known are interactive and inseparable.

Constructivism rejects the notions that

  1. Knowledge is an identifiable entity with absolute truth value
  2. Meaning can be passed on to learners via symbols or transmission
  3. Learners can incorporate exact copies of teacher's understanding for their own use
  4. The whole concepts can be broken into discrete sub-skills, and that concepts can be taught out of context.

Constructivism, with focus on social nature of cognition, suggests an approach that

  1. Gives learners the opportunity for concrete, contextually meaningful experience through which they can search for patterns, raise their own questions, and construct their own models.
  2. Facilitates a community of learners to engage in activity, discourse, and reflection
  3. Encourages students to take on more ownership of the ideas, and to pursue autonomy, mutual reciprocity of social relations, and empowerment to be the goals.

Who are primary contributors?
Perkins (1992) pointed out the origins of the constructivism:

"Constructivism has multiple roots in psychology and philosophy of this century: the developmental perspective of Jean Piaget, the emergence of cognitive psychology under the guidance of such figures as Jerome Bruner and Ulric Neisser, the constructivist perspective of philosophers such as Nelson Goodman."

This knowledge base will discuss particular the major influence from the field of cognitive science, i.e. the work of Piaget and Bruner, as well as from the work of socio-historical psychologists, such as Vygotsky.

Piaget (Also see Cognitivism)

Piaget's theory is fundamental to cognitivism and to constructivism. His central idea is that "knowledge proceeds neither solely from the experience of objects nor from an innate programming performed in the subject but from successive constructions." (Fosnot, 1996). Piaget (1985) proposed that the mechanism of learning is the process of equilibration, in which cognitive structure assimilates and accommodates to generate new possibilities when it is disturbed based on human's self-organizing tendency.

Lev Vygotsky

Vygotsky's sociohistorical development psychology focuses on the dialectic between the individual and society, and the effect of social interaction, language, and culture on learning. To Vygosky (1978), learning is a continual movement from the current intellectual level to a higher level which more closely approximates the learner's potential. This movement occurs in the so-called "zone of proximal development" as a result of social interaction. Thus, an understanding of human thinking depends in turn on an understanding of the mechanism of social experience; the force of the cognitive process deriving from the social interaction is emphasized. Also, the role of the adult and the learners' peers as they conversed, questioned, explained, and negotiated meaning is emphasized.

Vygostky's Sociohistorical Learning Theory or Sociocultural theory

Vygotsky was disappointed with the overwhelming control of environment over human behavior that is represented in behaviorism. Vygotsky (1978) objected to any tendency to equate human beings with animals on the basis of innate reflexes and conditional reflexes. He recognized the higher psychological functions of humans, especially the distinguishing mental process of signification by which humans assign meanings to arbitrary stimuli and with which human learning is determined by the social and historical context. He believed that human development and learning occur through their interactions with the environment and the other people in it.

Three themes that form the core of Vygotsky's theoretical framework: (Wertsch, 1992)

  1. A reliance on a genetic or developmental method:

    Vygotsky (1978) recognized two basic processes operating continuously at every level of human activity: internalization and externalization. Vygotsky proposed that even though every complex mental function is first an interaction between people, it subsequently becomes a process within individuals. It is the transition from the external operation to internal development which undergoes qualitative changes. This transformation involves the mastery of external means of thinking and learning to use symbols to control and regulate one's thinking.

  2. The claim that higher mental processes in the individual have their origin in social processes.
  3. The concept of Zone of Proximal Development: to Vygosky, learning is a continual movement from the current intellectual level to a higher level which more closely approximates the learner's potential. This movement occurs in the so-called "zone of proximal development" as a result of social interaction. The zone of proximal development is the distance between the actual independent development level and the potential development level under the guidance of or in collaboration with peers (Vygotsky, 1978). Vygotsky believes that human mental activity is a particular case of social experience. Thus, an understanding of human thinking depends in turn on an understanding of the mechanism of social experience; the force of the cognitive process deriving from the social interaction is emphasized.

  4. Mediation: the claim is that mental processes can be understood only if we understand the tools and signs that mediate them. Changing a stimulus situation in the process of responding to it establish mediation, e.g. the gesture of pointing could not have been established as a sign without the reaction of the other person. This also implies that any higher mental function necessarily goes through an external stage in its development because it is initially a social function.

Implications to learning and instruction:

  1. Learning in authentic context: The conception of mediation gives the emphasis to the interaction between individuals and the historical and cultural development. Situate learners in an authentic context, in which learners construct via dialectical relations among people acting, the contexts of their activity, and the activity itself.
  2. Providing Scaffolding: Learning takes place in the social interaction with older, more learned members of the society: learning occurs when individual is prompted to move past current levels of performance and develop new abilities. Thus, provide external support from the instructor, peers, experts, artifacts or tools as the learners construct knowledge.

Bruner

A major theme of Bruner's construction theory is that learning is an active process in which learners construct new ideas or concepts based upon their current/past knowledge. The learner selects and transforms information, constructs hypotheses, and makes decisions, relying on a cognitive structure, e.g. schema and mental models, to do so. The interconnection of the new experience with the prior knowledge results in the reorganization of the cognitive structure, which creates meaning and allows the individual to "go beyond the information given".

According to TIP's (Theory Into Practice database) abstract of Bruner's theory, the principles of instruction based on Bruner include:

  1. Readiness: Instruction must be concerned with the experiences and contexts that make the student willing and able to learn
  2. Spiral organization: Instruction must be structured so that it can be easily grasped by the student
  3. Going beyond the information given: Instruction should be designed to facilitate extrapolation and or fill in the gaps

Bruner's Constructive Learning

Bruner (1986) claims that constructivism began with Kant's concepts of a priori knowledge, which focuses on the importance of prior knowledge (what we know) to what we perceive from out interactions with the environment. Jonassen (1991) described Kant's ideas of individual construction of reality: " Kant believed in the external, physical world (noumena), but we know it only through our sensation (phenomena) - how the world appears to us."

TIP (Theory Into Practice database) described that Bruner's major theoretical framework is that learning is an active process in which learners construct new ideas or concepts based upon their current/past knowledge. In other words, Learning is an active, social process in which students construct new ideas or concepts based on current knowledge. The student selects information, originates hypotheses, and makes decisions in the process of integrating experiences into their existing mental constructs.

What are Bruner's key concepts? (Driscoll, 2000)

Three Modes of presenting understanding
  1. Enactive representation, a mode of representing past events through appropriate motor responses
  2. Iconic representation, which enables the perceiver to "summarize events by organization of percepts and of images
  3. Symbolic representation, "a symbol system which represents things by design features that can be arbitrary and remote, e.g. language
    1. Different from a fixed sequence of developmental stages, Bruner emphasizes the influences from the environment on amplification of the internal capabilities that learners possess.
Bruner's readiness
Piaget's readiness
Ausubel's readiness
Readiness of the subject matter for the learner: how to match instruction to the child's dominant mode of thinking Cognitive readiness of the learner to understand the logical operations in a subject matter Appropriateness in terms of the child's prior knowledge, i.e. what she knows and how she structure that knowledge in memory

 

Different from Piaget's cognitive development, which proposed that the qualitative difference in thinking is a stage-like development, Bruner's concept is that whereas symbolic representation is likely to be used for learning something new in a familiar topic; learners of all ages may resort to enactive or iconic representation when they encounter unfamiliar materials. Thus, to determine what mode of representation will be optimal for instruction requires knowing something about the learner's prior knowledge and dominant modes of thinking.

  1. Schooling as an instrument of culture. Knowing is a process, not a product. Children should be accepted as members and participants in the culture and provide opportunities to make and remake the culture in each generation.

Bruner (1966) states that a theory of instruction should address four major aspects:

  1. Predisposition towards learning
  2. The ways in which a body of knowledge can be structured so that it can be most readily grasped by the learner
  3. The most effective sequences in which to present material
  4. The nature and pacing of rewards and punishments..

Bruner's influence on instruction

  • Spiral Curriculum: Translating material into children's modes of thought: presenting topics consistent with children's forms of thought at an early age and then reintroducing those topics again later in a different form
  • Interpersonal interaction is a means that enable learners to develop cognitive growth: questioning, prompting
  • Discovery learning: discovery as" all forms of obtaining knowledge for oneself by the use of one's own mind"

    Students need to determine what variables are relevant, what information should be sought about those variables, and when the information is obtained, what should be done with it.

    Discovery of a concept proceeds from a systematic comparison of instances for what distinguishes examples from non-examples. To promote concept discovery, the teacher presents the set of instances that will best help learners to develop an appropriate model of the concept.

    Contrast that lead to cognitive conflicts can set the stage for discovery

  • Variables in instruction: nature of knowledge, nature of the knower, and nature of the knowledge-getting process

  • Promote discovery in the exercise of problem solving

  • Feedback must be provided in a mode that is both meaningful and within the information-processing capacity of the learner.

  • Intrinsic pleasure of discovery promote a sense of self-reward

Von Glasersfeld

Von Glasersfeld development of the epistemological basis of the psychological variant incorporates both the Piagetian notion of assimilation and accommodation and the cybernetic concept of viability (Cobb, 1994). The value of knowledge no longer lies in its conveyance of truth, but its viability in individual experience.

Von Glasersfeld (1992) stated that "Truths are replaced by viable models, and viability is always relative to a chosen goal."

Similar to Piaget, von Glasersfeld sees learning as an active process of self-organization in which the individual eliminate 'perturbation' (disequlibrium in Piaget's term) from the interaction with others as well as an active construction of viable knowledge adapted from the interaction with others.

Individuals' construction of their ways of knowing is the focus of von Glaserfeld. But, he also recognizes the importance of social interaction as a process of meaning negotiation in this subjective construction of knowing.

What does it mean to learning?

Constructivism, applied as an explanatory framework of learning, describes how the learner constructs knowledge from experience, which makes it unique to each individual.

Points of view of constructivism bring forth two major trends of explaining how leaning occurs:

  1. cognitive constructivists, focusing on the individual cognitive construction of mental structures
  2. sociocultural constructivists, emphasizing the social interaction and cultural practice on the construction of knowledge.

Both trends believe that:

  1. Knowledge cannot exist independently from the knower; knowledge cannot be reproduced and transmitted to another person.
  2. Learning is viewed as self-regulatory process:
    • Cognitive constructivists focus on the active mental construction struggling with the conflict between existing personal models of the world, and incoming information in the environment.
    • Sociocultural constructivists emphasis the process of enculturation into a community of practice, in which learners construct their models of reality as a meaning-making undertaking with culturally developed tools and symbols (Vygotsky, 1978), and negotiate such meaning thorough cooperative social activity, discourse and debate (Von Glaserfeld, 1992)
  3. Learners are active in making sense of things instead of responding to stimuli. Unlike information processor taking in and storing up information, learners " make tentative interpretations of experience and go on to elaborate and test those interpretations"(Perkins, 1992)

Impacts on Instructional Design

Constructivism provides different views of learning. Learners are no longer passive recipients and reproducers of information.

Learners are active constructors of their own conceptual understanding, and active meaning makers interacting with the physical and social world.

The design of learning environment based on constructivist view of learning emphasizes the integration of three types of human experiences (Vygotsky, 1978):

  1. historical experience, e.g. the traditions and practices of a culture
  2. social experience
  3. adaptation experience, in which people engage in active adaptation, changing the environment.

Below are some general principles of learning derived form constructivism (Smith and Ragan, 2000; Driscoll, 2001; Duffy & Jonassen, 1992):

  1. Learning requires invention and self-organization on the part of learners
  2. Disequilibrium facilitates learning: Errors need to be perceived as a result of learners' conceptions and therefore not minimized or avoided. Thus, challenge students with open-ended investigations in realistic, meaningful contexts need to be offered; allow learners to explore and generate many possibilities, both affirming and contradictory.
  3. Reflective abstraction is the driving force of learning: As meaning-makers, humans seek to organize and generalize across experiences in a representational form
  4. Dialogue within a community engenders further thinking: the learners are responsible for defending, proving, justifying, and communicating their ideas to the classroom community.

Principles of designing learning environment

Jonassen (1996) proposed that learning environments should provide active, intentional, complex, contextualized, reflective, conversational, collaborative, and constructive learning.

Image from David Jonassen's site

Driscoll (2000) listed constructivist principles for designing learning:

  • Embed learning in complex, realistic and relevant environments
  • Provide a social negotiation as an integral part of learning
  • Support multiple perspectives and the use of multiple modes of representation
  • Encourage ownership in learning
  • Nurture self-awareness of the knowledge construction process

About design of instruction

Based on Jonassen (1992) and Driscoll (2000), constructivism has the following impacts on instructional design:

  1. Instructional goals and objectives would be negotiated not imposed
  2. Task analysis would concentrate more on considering appropriate interpretations and providing the intellectual tools that are necessary for helping learners to construct knowledge
  3. Designers would provide generative, mental construction tool kits embedded in relevant learning environments that facilitate knowledge construction by learners
  4. About evaluation:
    Since constructivism does not hold the that the function of instruction is to transmit knowledge that mirrors the reality and its structures to the learner's mind, criterion-referenced evaluation, which is based on predetermined objective standards, is not an appropriate evaluation tool to constructivistic environments (Jonassen, 1992). The focus of evaluation should be placed on the process of knowledge construction rather than the end products of learning. And even if the end results are evaluated, it should emphasize the higher order thinking of human being.
  • The evaluation of learning focus on the higher order thinking, the knowledge construction process, and the building of the awareness of such process.
  • The context of evaluation should be embedded in the authentic tasks and meaningful real-world context.
  • The criteria of evaluation should represent multiple perspectives in learning environment. From the perspective of socio-cultural constructivist, since "no objective reality is uniformly interpretable by all learners, then assessing the acquisition of such reality is not possible" (Jonassen, 1992). Thus, the evaluation should focus on the learning process rather than the product.
  • Portfolio evaluation: different student interpretation at different stages in their learning process. Learning is multifaceted and multiperspectival, so as the results of learning.
  • The function of evaluation is not in the reinforcement or behavior control tool but more of "a self-analysis and metacognitive tool".


References:

Bruner, J. (1986). Actual Minds, Possible Worlds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Driscoll, M. P. (2000). Psychology of learning for instruction. 2nd ed. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Cobb, P. (1994). Where is the Mind? Constructivist and sociocultural perspectives on mathematic development. Educational Researcher, 23 (7), pp. 13-20

Fosnot, C. T. (1996). (Ed.) Constructivism: Theory, perspectives, and practice. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Jonassen, D. H. (1992). Evaluating constructivist learning. In T. M. Duffy, & D. H. Jonassen (eds), Constructivism and the technology of instruction: A conversation. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Association.

Piaget, J. (1985). The equilibration of cognitive structures. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Smith, P. L., & Ragan, T. J. (1999). Instructional Design. 2nd ed. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Von Glaserfeld (1992). Constructivism reconstruction: A reply to Suchting. Science and Education, 1, 379-384.

Vyogtsky, L. S. (1979). Consciousness as a problem in the psychology of behavior.Soviet Psychology, 17 (4), 3-35. (Original work published in 19-24).

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychology process. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. (Original published in 1930).

Wertsch, J. V. (1992). L. S. Vygotsky and contemporary developmental psychology. Developmental Psychology, 28 *4), 548-557. Vygotsky, L. (1986). Thought and language. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. (Original work published 1962).

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Play the digital shake up - might be a place for a TMA!

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 Nov 2012, 04:39

FreeVector-Thinker%2520Wordle%2520A.jpg

Fig. 1 A mashup between Freevector and a Wordle

I like a Wordle for the fun of them. Feels lazy to put words into a digital box and give it a shake. Anyone can have a go. This one is edited notes on the Tindall-Ford paper and a paragraph from the Wikipedia entry on Maria Montessori.

Same info, a different shake of the Wordle digital box.

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Fig.2. Montessori and Tindall-Ford put through the Wordle tombola of word cloud generation.

 

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Should we design learning with brain centers in mind rather than sensory channels? What do you think? What do you do?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 1 Nov 2012, 09:21

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Source: http://shape-of-code.coding-guidelines.com/tag/brain/

So, for example, design with the language and visual centres of the brain in mind, so that the specific combination of senses that might be engaged work in favour not in conflict with the process.

For example, we can read a map (visual) while receiving instructions on its use (auditory) - as the visual and language centers are distinct.

However, as I discovered yesterday, when I tried to pass on a message to my wife verbally who was in the depths of writing a report to a tight deadline not a word was heard - her language centre was so fully occupied that she shut me out. She didn't even see me come into the room. (She did enjoy the tea and toast though).

The mind's a tricky thing - are we being too clever? We've survived tens of thousands of years without multi-media or e-learning. I reckon the most useful things I have learnt in life were watching my grandfather service a car, put up wallpaper and empty the guttes.

 

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H810 : Activity 19 Accessibility Guidelines - the good, the bad and the ugly

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 31 Oct 2012, 12:48

The Good

Maria%2520Montessori.JPG

Fig.1. Maria Montessori

My journey into accessibility guidelines, legislation, principles and case studies quickly diverted me into the nature of multi-modal learning. I knew as I started this module that I was looking for or expected when I term the 'Montesori Effect'.

Maria Montesori was ill-treated because of her gender, finding resistance to her desire to study medicine and further resistance once she got there. I wonder if there is resonance here for a disabled student meeting resistance or faced with prejudice of any kind when pursing their academic studies? Montessori's early studies involved children with disabilities and it is through this that she developed her educational philosophy that has come to influence the ways we teach. I can see that her work is something I shall have to study too.

'Montessori experimented with allowing children free choice of the materials, uninterrupted work, and freedom of movement and activity within the limits set by the environment'. Wikipedia (last accessed 31st October 2012)

Turning to reading up on accessibility guidelines I read through the following:

National Center for Accessible Media

Software and tools

Educational Issues for Students with Disabilities

Accessible interactive software can bring the benefits of multimedia and experimental learning to students who may otherwise be left out. Interactive learning experiences will be especially enriching for students who may otherwise have more limited experiences. Because students with disabilities may not be exposed to as wide a range of activities as other students, accessible software can contribute positively toward filling in some of those gaps.

Low-vision students may still learn from a visual program, provided it is well designed.

Software should allow:

  • fonts to be adjusted
  • provide clear contrast for objects that students must locate and manipulate
  • include keyboard commands to reduce mouse dependence
  • provide a system cursor that moves with important screen events so that magnifiers can track them.

Benefits of Multimodal Learning

Making software and digital publications accessible to students with disabilities has benefits for other students as well.

These benefits are especially important for students learning English as a second language and those with reading difficulty. Accessible textbooks and software often provide multi-modal access to information, combining text with audio. 

Tindall-Ford and colleagues showed in several different experiments that when information is presented in audio and visual form, performance on complex tasks is improved (1997).

'The intellectual complexity of information, generated by the degree of element interactivity, may determine the conditions under which the structure of presented information is critical and thus, when cognitively derived information-presentation techniques such as integrated and audio-visual packages are most useful. Finally, the measures of perceived mental effort used in this article lend further support to the notion that cognitive load is a critical and major factor when formatting information'. (Tindall-Ford et al 1997:283- 84)

The Bad?

Microsoft%2520Keyboard%2520Dual%2520Learning%2520SNIP.JPG

Fig.2. A contemporary example of dual-mode learning?

'When two sensory modes are better than one' deserves a class of its own. I've migrated discussion on this to an e-learning group in Linkedin while opening it up to discussion here and in the H810 Student Forum.

J.R. Williams reviewed about 100 studies from the literature on use of multimedia in instruction and found that combining visual and verbal information can lead to enhanced comprehension (1998). Mentioned in the above guidelines, though not giving the reference I offer below - again, worth studying in its own right.

The Ugly?

Tindall-Ford%2520Integrated%2520Diagram%2520and%2520Instructions.JPG

Fig.3. An example of the integrated instructions used by Tindall et al (1997)

FURTHER LINKS

Maria Montessori:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Montessori

REFERENCE

Tindall-Ford, S, Chandler, P, & Sweller, J 1997, 'When two sensory modes are better than one', Journal Of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 3, 4, pp. 257-287, (Last viewed 31st October 2012).

Williams J.R. (1998) Guidelines for the Use of Multimedia in Instruction Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting October 1998 42: 1447-1451,

 

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H810 Activity 19 Education Issues for Students with Disabilities

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 May 2014, 11:29

National Center for Accessible Media
http://ncam.wgbh.org/

Software and tools

Educational Issues for Students With Disabilities


http://ncam.wgbh.org/invent_build/web_multimedia/accessible-digital-media-guide/educational-issues-for-student

Accessible interactive software can bring the benefits of multimedia and experimental learning to students who may otherwise be left out. Interactive learning experiences will be especially enriching for students who may otherwise have more limited experiences. Because students with disabilities may not be exposed to as wide a range of activities as other students, accessible software can contribute positively toward filling in some of those gaps.

Low-vision students, however, may still learn from a visual program, provided it is well designed. Software should allow fonts to be adjusted, provide clear contrast for objects that students must locate and manipulate, include keyboard commands to reduce mouse dependence and provide a system cursor that moves with important screen events so that magnifiers can track them.

Benefits of Multimodal Learning


Making software and digital publications accessible to students with disabilities has benefits for other students as well. These benefits are especially important for students learning English as a second language and those with reading difficulty. Accessible textbooks and software often provide multi-modal access to information, combining text with audio.

Tindall-Ford and colleagues showed in several different experiments that when information is presented in audio and visual form, performance on complex tasks is improved (1997).

J.R. Williams reviewed about 100 studies from the literature on use of multimedia in instruction and found that combining visual and verbal information can lead to enhanced comprehension (1998).

REFERENCE

Tindall-Ford, S, Chandler, P, & Sweller, J 1997, 'When two sensory modes are better than one', Journal Of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 3, 4, pp. 257-287, Psyc ARTICLES, EBSCO host, viewed 30 October 2012.

Williams J.R. (1998) Guidelines for the Use of Multimedia in Instruction Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting October 1998 42: 1447-1451,

Williams, T. R. (2000) Guidelines for Designing and Evaluating the Display of information on the Web. By: Technical Communication, 00493155, Aug 2000, Vol. 47, Issue 3

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Disabilities, Functional Limitations and Accessibility Tips

http://ncam.wgbh.org/invent_build/web_multimedia/accessible-digital-media-guide/disabilities-functional-limita

Each disability presents unique challenges to computer users.

BLIND USERS

To support screen reading software, developers can:

  • use standard system tools to draw and erase all on-screen text and to display all cursors and pointers.
  • use system standard on-screen controls whenever possible.
  • define tools in toolbars, palettes, and menus as separate items, and avoid creating single graphics containing multiple objects. When tools and other objects are kept separate, the screen reader is better able to identify and name each tool for the user.
  • embed descriptive text in graphic images in such a way as to make the text known to screen-reading software. This addresses the problems that can arise when text is rendered as a graphic image and cannot be read by software.
  • assign logical names to controls, even if the name is not visible on the screen. Screen readers can access this information and use it to describe the type and function of the control on the screen.
  • track the system cursor with the mouse, even if the cursor is invisible. This allows the screen-reading software to detect the mouse position when customized highlighting or focusing techniques are in use.
  • use consistent and predictable screen and dialog layouts.
  • avoid the use of "help" balloons that disappear whenever the hot spot, or focus of the mouse, changes. Locking the help balloon in place lets user move the cursor and continue to read the balloon.
  • provide keyboard equivalents for all tools, menus, and dialog boxes.


Since screen readers can only read text (or give names to separately identifiable icons or tools), it is a good idea to:

  • avoid assigning unlabeled hot spots to pictures for use as controls.
  • avoid non-text menu items when possible or at least incorporate visible or invisible text cues to accompany these items. Screen readers can see text even if that text is written to the screen invisibly.
  • avoid non-redundant graphic toolbars.

Finally, documentation and training materials are always more accessible when:

  • documentation and on-line help can be understood independent of graphics. Text descriptions should stand on their own.
  • synchronized audio descriptions are available to play alongside animated graphics or movies.

For People with Low Vision


"Low vision" refers to a range of vision problems including:

  • poor acuity, meaning blurred or fogged vision.
  • loss of all central vision; the ability to see only the outer ring of the visual field.
  • tunnel vision; the ability to see only the center of the normal visual field.
  • loss of vision in other parts of the visual field.
  • other problems, including night blindness, reduced contrast and sensitivity to glare.

Computer users with low vision often depend on the ability to enlarge or otherwise enhance areas of on-screen information. Screen-enlargement software can be tremendously helpful.

To make on-screen information easier to see, developers can:

  • increase the contrast between text and the background.
  • place text over a solid-color background. A patterned background can make text harder to discern.
  • create consistent layouts for all screens and dialogs within the program.
  • provide access to tools via a menu bar.
  • follow line-width guidelines when drawing lines on screen. Use the line-width information provided by operating system settings. This will ensure that the learning application will increase all lines proportionally should a user choose to enlarge the view.
  • allow the user to zoom in on or magnify portions of the screen.

To make software more compatible with other applications that offer low-vision access features, developers can:

  • use the system pointers whenever possible, as well as the system caret or insertion bar, if available.
  • include a highlight or focus indicator when dragging the system cursor, even at those times when the cursor is invisible. This adjustment will help screen enlargement software using "pan and zoom" features to track the user's movements more accurately.
  • add support for a "high contrast" setting.
  • protect users from the need to monitor simultaneously two or more events occurring far apart from each other on the screen.

 

For People with Language or Cognitive Disabilities


Language and cognitive disabilities are very difficult for developers to address, partly because of the diversity represented in the category. The group includes individuals with:

  • general processing difficulties such as mental retardation, brain injury and others.
  • specific deficits such as lack of short-term memory, the inability to remember proper names and others.
  • learning disabilities such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, auditory perceptual disabilities, cognitive disorganization, and visual perceptual disabilities.
  • language delays.


In addition, the degree of impairment within each of these categories can range broadly, from minimal to severe. In general, software designed to be as user-friendly as possible will improve accessibility for those with language or cognitive impairments.

To improve accessibility for people with language or cognitive disabilities, developers can:

  • allow all message alerts to remain on screen until dismissed by the user.
  • make language and instructions as simple and straightforward as possible, both on screen and in documentation.
  • use simple and consistent screen layouts.


It is important to bear in mind that those with language and cognitive disabilities often have difficulty processing print. To increase accessibility for this population, developers should take steps to make their software compatible with screen-reading software

TOOLS FOR ACCESS
http://ncam.wgbh.org/invent_build/web_multimedia/accessible-digital-media-guide/tools-for-access

Assistive technology (AT) is an umbrella term used to describe any product or technology-based service that helps disabled people to live, learn, work and enjoy life. In the context of on-line education, assistive technology refers to hardware and software technologies that enable people with disabilities to use computers more effectively.

Screen Readers


Screen readers are software products designed for blind users, but they are also useful to users with learning disabilities. Screen readers locate information seen on the computer screen and vocalize it using text-to-speech software and, occasionally, hardware. Most screen readers work in close concert with the operating system, relying on the computer's built-in capabilities. Applications and software that conform to the standards of the operating system are more likely to be accessible. Applications and software that ignore the requirements of screen readers and the operating systems that support them may well prove unusable for some disabled people.

Screen Magnifiers


Screen magnifiers are software solutions for people with low vision. These products allow the user to enlarge the size of images and text displayed on screen. Screen magnifiers may also permit the user to change the default colors of the display.

Compatibility between screen magnifiers and software can be a problem for developers. Typical screen magnifiers track the cursor or the active region of the screen and will automatically enlarge that portion of the display. Applications that use a custom cursor design may cause the magnifier to enlarge the wrong portion of the screen. Developers can avoid this problem by relying on standard interface practices, particularly those that apply to cursor control and display.

Equivalent Access Versus Alternative Access

When considering accessibility of learning applications, it is important to understand the differences between two types of access: equivalent and alternative.

Equivalent access provides the disabled user with content identical to that used by the non-disabled user. For the disabled user, however, that content is presented in a different manner. Providing a course textbook in braille format, on audiotape, or in digital format are examples of equivalent accessibility.

Alternative access provides the disabled user with a learning activity that differs from the activity used by the non-disabled user. However, the alternative activity is designed to achieve the same learning objectives. For example, a mobility-impaired student might be given the option of conducting a science experiment in a virtual laboratory, where the levels of dexterity, strength, and physical access are different from those required in a physical laboratory.

There are numerous examples where software developed for alternative access has become the mainstream choice when its value to all learners was recognized. For example, the virtual microscope developed for disabled students by The Open University proved better able to achieve key learning objectives than its mainstream counterpart and so came to be used by all students.

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Use of video - too much, too little, just enough?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 31 Oct 2012, 12:38

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Fig.1. Audio without books - no better than the books on their own. Research shows that what works is when the two work together.

Too many companies are currently touting software that can take a 45 minute lecture and package it in a form that makes in bitesized and tagged - butting it through the MagiMix, diced. I can't say it will necessarily improve or add to the learning experience, though I do like to stop start, rewind, play over, repeat, take notes ... go back to the start.

The definitive research on use of audio and text to enhance effective learning was done in the 1990s and published in various papers starting with 'When two sensory modes are better than one' (1997).

Worth the read and written with the multimedia world that was then emerging in mind.

It takes skill and thought to get it right - we've all heard of 'Death by Power Point' - we used to try to avoid 'Death by talking head' - this doesn't add much, what you want is the voice over explaining actions as they take place with text superimposed where the action takes place - even captions and subtitled can cause a cognitive split, increase mental overload and diminish the effectiveness of the learning experience.

REFERENCE

Tindall-Ford, S, Chandler, P, & Sweller, J 1997, 'When two sensory modes are better than one', Journal Of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 3, 4, pp. 257-287

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Accessibility Guidelines

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 May 2014, 11:34

Accessibility Guidelines

 

 

 

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