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Don't e-teach until you can teach

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Or not?

Those who teach online could learn something from those who teach in the classroom, lecture hall or tutorial.

We could learn from each other.

Analogue and digital are soooooooooo different, yet so much the same.

The mistake is to take the face to face classroom and put it online. The schedule doesn't work, the number in the class doesn't work and the length of the class doesn't work.

Taking online learning (from HE or business) and putting in the face to face classroom doesn't work either.

What is the point in sitting in a room with other people unpacking your distance learning materials (which Open University style used to be a box of books and cassettes or DVDs, even a bit of TV or Radio). For you to undertake on your own.

Taking the best of both worlds and blending it up into something different is best.

Learning on a mobile device, a phone, tablet or laptop (they're all different), is not the same as learning in a class with a pen and pad of paper while looking at a whiteboard or smart TV (does anyone have a whiteboard or blackboard anymore?)

The Open University got there first putting an entire course online. I did it. The Masters in Open and Distance Education. I started a module from the Masters in Open and Distance Learning in 2001 before all of it migrated online (out of the box of books). 

You learn in chunks, in moments, or you set aside a couple of evenings, or Sunday morning. You fit your learning around YOUR schedule, not the other way around.

It is convenient to have stuff on or accessible on a phone or tablet: you can read, listen or watch in the bath, on the commute. You do not have to be physically present in a classroom.

School and college students are no different. Understandably they associate school or college, especially if they are wearing a uniform, with a certain amount of uniformity. When they are learning at home, you are entering THEIR environment. This is their space. Wo betide if you try to invade this. We should not expect them to be able to create the time in the same way. If they have a laptop they may well expect to work on a kitchen table, not in a shared bedroom. The kitchen table is a shared space. Parents and siblings will cross back and forth wondering what they are doing, interacting and disrupting. Does the student want to be seen at home? To have a parent or guardian or sibling appearing in shot? Do they want their 'college persona' exchange for son or daughter mode back home?

We have to understand their world before we invade it. We have to be welcome in, not force our way in. We have to fit around the individual circumstances.

Learn from the OU.

Let them work at their own pace.

Make Meets short.

Keep the class size small.

Have ways they can get through the work and contribute and you can monitor and feedback without everyone having to be present at the same time.

Change your hours to suit them, rather than shoehorning them into a pattern that works for the physical space and set hours of college designed to managed large groups of teachers and even larger groups of students. 

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Design Museum

Assume nothing

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Plate of Food from Harvard T H Chan

Be open and ask. Speaking with the head coach about a series of classes I will give to swimmers at various levels and their parents and guardians on healthy eating and hydration for sport I pointed out that the videos he'd put up on the club website weren't great: it was hard to hear what the young nutritionists from Swim Englands were saying because they had loud music over what the were saying ... to the point that it drowned the out. He had put them up there without looking at them.

I have by now watch close to 16 nutrition for young athlete videos from the US and UK: I have found a couple that will work better.

I'm still at the exploration stage with this. I am still watching, reading, having ideas ... finding that may others have thought along the same way already - which is reassuring. I'm not going for originality, rather effectiveness, appropriateness and simple enough for me to be able to deliver it and field questions.

Everything is orientating towards the 'Plate of Food' as a way to visualise what should be on the plate, in what portions too.

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A poor learning experienced remembered

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Joining a class that would run over several weeks that would teach his improvisational writing and rehearsal technique used by Mike Leigh I found that the class would watch as a direct, three actors and a write did exactly this. We didn't get to improvise - I enjoyed acting at the time. We didn't get to work with the actors - I wasn't so much into directing yet. And we didn't even write. This was meant to inform our own projects. I didn't. I found it hugely frustrating to be watching others do stuff, have fun and learn from the experience, while we in the 'class' were meant to pick it up from a chair at a distance. All we were taught was how, through demonstration, to run an improvisational session. 

LESSON > if you aim is to teach someone to do something, have them do it not sit on the sidelines.


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Using Dreams is Problematic

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Using dreams is problematic; you have to get up in the middle of the night. When the dream tells you something you have to run with it. If you don’t wake up, and stay awake to replay and interpret then the dream is lost. Try it someday.

In this dream … each day I go to a place of work, a movie set, workshop or community. Each day the route I drive becomes a little more familiar. Then I notice that rather than doubling back at the roundabout at the end of a long road on the edge of town to be able to get into this ‘place of work’ - a sharp, almost U turn from the side of the road that instead, if the traffic is clear I can hold back and when the road is clear go straight in to the entrance without the extra detour. After which things change. They open up in two ways.

I take my son to work (if it is work, it is more like a campsite) and I notice the incredible landscape on the horizon - it is like one of those kitsch Ben Ross paintings with a mountain top, with ridges and snow. (I never see or hear my son - I just know he is there). 

I say to my son that I should take him up there one day (as If I had ever ventured there). In an instant we have travelled the 15 miles onto the mountain. Another moment and the car is gone and I am on that ridge, suffering from vertigo and not enjoying it one bit. I try to remain chipper and offer false confidence to my son despite my coming to a deep break in the ridge which is full of soft snow.

I am stuck. I am barely able to cling to the precipitous edge. I am as reluctant to go back as I am to go forward. I need to get into the snow to get across the gap, but in all likelihood the snow will be soft and one of two things will happen: I will sink deep into the snow, or snow will collapse and spew me out over the mountain. Neither outcome is good. I wake. I dwell on it. If I get up for an hour and read I will forget it.

I relax back into it, just to take in the narrative of the dream. I find myself reflecting on my current circumstances - as you do, dreams are always routed in your real world. Is this chasm on the ridge full of snow the way I see the challenge of PGCE? Is it even the metaphorical chasm that comes in any development of an innovation?  How should I work with it?

First off , write it down. It is 4.04am. I am up. I woke from the dream about 45 minutes ago.

Then reflect on how I feel and why so often my dreams end on mountains and with snow. It is usually a wish unfulfilled, a challenge to great.

I reflect on Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi ‘In the flow’ (only because his name appeared amongst others as I went through my OU Blog yesterday looking for inspiration for ideas from education (and corporate training).

What if, as seeking to get into the flow I overstretch myself, that having bumped along in a generally upwards trajectory, getting bored, finding a new challenge, I now find I have taken on too much - that I have taken too great a leap?

And how often has this been my undoing as my ADHD brain reaches for, then turns out the light of enthusiasm?

What if … I work to get over the chasm? I don’t make any move that will in all likelihood lead to death (even the virtual, dream variety). Currently I can not go forward or back - my son may have been with me on the way up, but he has wisely left me behind. I am on my own.

What if … it was just a dream?

Mihalyi Czsicksentmihalyi got me on the mountain, but Everett Rogers will get me over the chasm. You see I’ve been thinking of his ‘Diffusions of Innovations’ too. 

Diffusion of Innovation Theory suggests there is an S-curve of progression through a new idea’s development, take up, and becoming established. Famously it defines people as innovators, early adopters, late adopters and laggards.

I don’t like the word ‘laggard’ by the way. I don’t see the value of using pejorative terms for people simply because they are averse to change. Why shouldn’t my step-father, retired before the home computer consider getting any kind of device that will get him on the Internet? Why shouldn’t my equally ancient father-in-law not feel, well into his 90s, that any digital innovation that can make his life easier is something to adopt early and wholeheartedly? 

Importantly, and this is stretching my interpretation of a dream quite literally, diffusion of innovation theory developed to incorporate a chasm that would hinder an innovation's progress onto the break-away upwards slopes to adoption and success. 

Later diagrams of diffusion of innovation theory, a theory that developed in the early 50s and gained the chasm in the 70s or 80s (or later) show what to my mind could be this very break in the ridge that is preventing me from progressing onto the slopes that will take me to the top. 

My interpretation makes sense to me because there are two things on my mind: the growing fear, like an actor’s nerves before the first dress rehearsal, that I am not ready to get up in front of colleagues to do a ‘micro-teach’ (part of the week 6 requirements for the PGCE on which I have embarked) and the need to put my thinking on innovations in FE/HE education into a commercial proposition. 

The micro-teach will resolve itself with scripting, visualisation and practice. I know what I want, how I’d like the experience to play out and the outcome; I just have to put in the hours of preparation. Time for reading, looking back on notes is over. I can’t know the subject any less or more. I need to create a set of Rolodex cards (or just use Slides to create them digitally). [I order 100 Rolodex cards from an Office Supply shop). 

Likewise, the commercial proposal needs to become words on a blank sheet of paper, not just ideas in my head.



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Class Observations III (Teaching Online)

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A dire online session where participants were supposed to have completed some homework beforehand. Out of 7 attendees one had done so, 2 said they had looked at it and of the other 4 a further 2 said they weren’t sure the course was for them and left.
The lesson from this > don’t give homework before a course has even started. Not even as a teambuilder. Maybe get people to fill in a profile at most.

Good practice online is to have two people. If you have the luxury. The second person works as a ‘two hander’, or helps with sign ins in the background if people are meant to have access to an App or platform, they can also filter and offer up questions that may come up in the Chat rather than having the speaker distracted.

Alternatively, set the ground rules early so that people don’t have expectations of anything in the Chat being dealt with until the end. John Sowash of the Google Academy is great at this. 
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Seven Elements of Happiness: Dr Anthony Clare

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Remembering Dr Anthony Clare 

BBC Radio 4 7:30am 26 October 2020 and paraphrased from an article in the Times by Gyles Brandreth 

Number One: Cultivate a Passion 

Have something that you enjoy doing. The challenge for a school is to find every child some kind of passion -- something that will see them through the troughs. That's why I'm in favour of the broadest curriculum you can get.

Number Two: Be a Leaf on a Tree. 

You have to be both an individual -- to have a sense that you are unique and you matter -- while you also need to be connected to a bigger organism -- a family, a community, a hospital, a company. You need to be part of something bigger than yourself. A leaf that has come off a tree has the advantage that it floats about a bit, but it's disconnected and it dies.

Number Three: Avoid Introspection.

If you are a rather complicated person, people may avoid you. If, on the other hand, you are a centre of good feeling, people will come to you. The problem of being  introspective is that you find it difficult to make friends. Put an introspective person in a social group and they tend to talk about themselves. It puts other people off.

Number Four: Don't Resist Change. 

Change is important. People who are fearful of change are rarely happy. People are wary of change, particularly when things are going reasonably well, because they don't want to rock the boat, but a little rocking can be good for you. You need variety, flexibility, the unexpected, because they'll challenge you.

Number Five: Live for the Moment. 

Look at the things that you want to do and you keep postponing. Postpone less of what you want to do, or what you think is worthwhile. Do what makes you happy.

Six: Audit Your Happiness. 

How much of each day are you spending doing something that doesn't make you happy? Check it out and if more than half of what you're doing makes you unhappy, then change it. Go on.

Seven: If you want to be happy, be happy. 

Act it, play the part, put on a happy face. Start thinking differently. If you are feeling negative, say, "I'm going to be positive,' and that, in itself, can trigger a change in how you feel."

And if you do as Anthony Clare did, have seven children smile 








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What has Jamie Oliver taught you?

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I've not watched any of his output for years. Between channels I stumbled upon him a few months ago. He had some kale. We love kale. We've toyed with being vegan and 'plant based' based for so many years how could we avoid it. 

What he did had me sit up.

  • He cut out the stem of a leaf, folded one half into the other, the rolled it up.
  • He then sliced it leaving a set of rings.
  • Steam.

I've done the same ever since. 

Observation: 

  • demonstrate a new technique
  • make it look easy - because it is!
  • be enthusiastic 
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Seven Elements of Happiness: Dr Anthony Clare

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Remembering Dr Anthony Claire BBC Radio 4 7:30am 26 October 2020

He died three years ago. I've cobbled this together from the replay of an old radio programme and an historical article from the Times with Gyles Brandreth. 

Number One: Cultivate a passion 

It is important in my model of happiness to have something that you enjoy doing. The challenge for a school is to find every child some kind of passion -- something that will see them through the troughs. That's why I'm in favour of the broadest curriculum you can get.

Number Two: be a leaf on a tree. 

You have to be both an individual -- to have a sense that you are unique and you matter -- and you need to be connected to a bigger organism -- a family, a community, a hospital, a company. You need to be part of something bigger than yourself. A leaf off a tree has the advantage that it floats about a bit, but it's disconnected and it dies.

Number Three: avoid introspection.

If you are a rather complicated person, people may avoid you. If, on the other hand, you are a centre of good feeling, people will come to you. The problem of being  introspective that you find it difficult to make friends. Put an introspective person in a social group and they tend to talk about themselves. It puts other people off.

Number Four: don't resist change. 

Change is important. People who are fearful of change are rarely happy. People are wary of change, particularly when things are going reasonably well, because they don't want to rock the boat, but a little rocking can be good for you. You need variety, flexibility, the unexpected, because they'll challenge you.

Number Five, live for the moment. 

Look at the things that you want to do and you keep postponing. Postpone less of what you want to do, or what you think is worthwhile. Do what makes you happy.

Six, audit your happiness. 

How much of each day are you spending doing something that doesn't make you happy? Check it out and if more than half of what you're doing makes you unhappy, then change it. Go on.

Seven if you want to be happy, be happy. 

Act it, play the part, put on a happy face. Start thinking differently. If you are feeling negative, say, 'I am going to be positive,' and that, in itself, can trigger a change in how you feel."










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PGCE : Provide evidence of wider reading

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 14 Nov 2020, 11:54

Who might a reference as evidence of wider reading and why are the relevant to my developing teaching practice? 

John Carroll > Three way step approach [I could use this] 

Is this the man?

Carroll, J. (1963). A model of school learning. Teachers College Record, 64, 723-733.

John B Carroll ? 

Whose 'model emphasises aptitude as a determinant of time needed for learning'. This 'suggests that increased effort' be placed on predicting student potential and so designing appropriate instruction, so that 'ideals of equal opportunity to learn are to be achieved within a diversity of educational objectives'.(1) 

Geoff Petty

Dylan Wiliams

So long as they fit the narrative, rather than being shoehorned in, then the names that come to mind and for whom I will find plenty here are:

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi - In the flow (boredom/challenge) 

  • Something you can do, then a challenge to take a further.

John Seely Brown - Communities of practice, therefore working it out collectively. 

Ebbinghaus - Forgetting curve, therefore repetition and 'spaced education'. 

Gilly Salmon - e-tivities and five stages, could be used to introduce online homework. 

They can login, use the platform (put in their name), answer a question. Ask for support.

Grainne Conole (2011) -  Flat vocabulary, more complex vocabulary, classification schemas or models and metaphors. [Designing for Learning in a Digital World]. 

  • Metaphor creates memory (and her seven stages of learning online) or was it Gareth Morgan. I never really understood him even if I got into it for a period 

Barbara Oakley - 'Learning How to Learn' chunking and metaphor + the classroom ‘observation’ of deferring to a god-like expert as witness/evidence. 

  • Chunking. Bitesiez. How we learn. 

Yrjö Engeström (1987) - Activity Theory and Systems and how people construct meaning

Van Gundy (1988) - Creative problem solving techniques. 

  • Drawing, out of their comfort zone, different ways of thinking, eliciting a response and feedback. 

Ritchey (20070 - 'Wicked Problems' are not 'true or false' but 'better or worse'. Social problems are complex and wicked. So called 'Tame Problems', even as complex as chess, have a scientific or mathematical solution so are not 'wicked' or 'messy'. 

Grayson Perry - creativity is making mistakes. 

Can someone own the following though:

Storytelling

Metaphor

REFERENCES
1) The Carroll Model: A 15-year Retrospective and Prospective View. 




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Further Class Observations II

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 28 Oct 2020, 17:37

Diagrams and Maps: Peninsula and Isthmus 

I loved to visualise things, to make charts, and maps. For much of my professional career I have defined myself as a ‘visualiser’. I take the complex and make it appear simple through visualisation: photography, illustration, video … 

Peninsula

JG_QPWGCISss0DY-zFGy9QgdIQR2DKor6o8MRlEZEM4B1eNM0TfozHMjDCo_097pexvopOrRZvspAFJcBMAnFNG7q7UfX79EI1XInpZyuptUsnQwWFBntrcj1fvrHOs1yGqr82c8

Pain. Not recommended. Or was it? In the junior school, age 5 or 6 at the very most, we had a morning in the ‘senior’ school at Ascham House Prep School, Gosforth. We had a class, with maps, and Miss Short taught the words ‘Peninsula’ and ‘Isthmus’. I can see those huge maps held on a long wooden pool that were hung on the wall and opened to reveal the ‘Peninsula’. 

At the end of the class, and on the way out before returning down the road to the ‘junior school’ my older brother (age 7 or 8) entered and I gave him a hug. I got a thick ear from Miss Short for stepping out of line. I wonder if I only recall the meaning of Peninsula and that map because of the thick ear I received … or was it because of my boyish wonder at the map? I think it must have been the map - being shown something I had never seen before, and have it explained. Maybe because it gave a description to the ‘Point’ at Beadnell where we spent our holidays. Beadnell Point is a peninsula. At least on the scale of my world, which was the short walk from our cottage to either the rock or sandy beaches. When the tide went out, some of the rock promentories from my bedroom window created an isthmus I could cross. My adventures could now be mapped and shared. 

Give me some skin ! A Lesson in Cool 

I use ‘they’ to avoid identifying the gender of the teacher or students. 

RRDc6H01gadKO77lnMmNeRiLJesySac9M2b0zKm8CLoIjt2-QFDZkjrPh_PuYHJfnAsHIxuL0rNEocuxfTONIi6kktejGuM5G4VGuWT-JBwiv4t4dog4cMsKsOt-f66JGKFQSE9B

The teacher was as cool as they come. They could not be flustered. Old school I would have pulled a tray out for mobile phones (or the paper bin) and sent at least one person out of the class. That is not the thing to do. Some of the students I learn later are SEND or EHC. 

The purpose of the class was to run through some definitions, like those above, on a template where the words have been left out. Each student had a paper copy to complete. It transpires that one student had done a different course and covered this the year before and could rattle through everything like an undergraduate in medical school. There was one student who very clumsily kept their phone on, just under the desk, as they read and replied to text messages. Intermittently they would interrupt the class with a complaint, or fasile remark. Somehow, I still can’t fathom how, by the end of the class this student had jotted down a least a few of the answers - albeit once someone had given the answer.

As they were a close knit social group having them work in twos or threes worked well to get everyone working together. One group may have had to be a four, as one person didn’t want to be left out, or with someone they didn’t get on with. Understanding and going with the social dynamic was crucial. 

I liken the atmosphere eventually to being more like a Scout Leader around a campfire than a teacher at the end of the desk. 

Far from seeing how digital could contribute here > we had a 3D human body with 3D goggles in mind I rather thought a real 3D model made in Props by the Theatre Students would have the most impact. A giant finger like a large log in the middle of this virtual fire in the centre of the class.  Of course, medical students do get the real thing. That must be impactful. The very thought of it makes my brain prickle. The multi-sensory and emotional experience of cutting into a cadavre to look at the layers of the skin.

NOTE TO SELF: There is a template for more formal evaluations. I will use this, but any posts will be PRIVATE. 

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Blog It, VlogIt, Link it in and other Social Media : Digital Presence for Adult Learners

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I'm pushing this is a 7 week digital literacy class for late adopters = any age will do, but I suspect they will be over 50s. I've worked with this age group, more like over 70s for the last 5 years. I'm offering it to my age group because so many of us are resisters and deniers. 


The above from a May 2019 post. oops, not citation.

Just thinking about this, as I walk the dog and shouldn't be thinking about anything, I find myself taking the classic bell curve of Everett Rogers (2005) Diffusion of Innovations. A book that so impressed me that I bought copies for people. Looking around my shelves it would appear I have given them all away. These days, having gone through a period of digital online - a multitude of Kindle publications unread, I know dig out second hand hardback copies and treat them with a little more respect. The brain is still analogue after all and a pile of books by the bed, balanced on top of each other on a shelf or even in the glove compartment of the car is better than having it on a device that will distract you many times an hour with appeals to do something else.



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The best student blog platform ever

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Nothing beats this platform. I felt this from the start in 2010. I guess it migrated from a Notice Board List Serve thing I even remember from 2001. 

It works because it is a hybrid, part blog, part noticeboard. It is simple. You write into a template and have parameters. Parameters are old school, like writing copy for print editorial. Parameters help too. I can't prattle on for too long (or cut and paste an essay). I could add it as an attachment though, and media file sizes have to be compressed too. Wise in 2020 when an image from a fancy phone can be so huge. Just learn to make them smaller and lower resolution.

I can chose to keep this entirely private to me, shared to the OU or shared to the world. 

I wish other institutions took blogging by students seriously and did this too. It worked when I was studying here as fellow students knew exactly where to find me and we could talk/collaborate between each other - fellow OU students only invited. So comments ran well. 

All I was meant to note here, now that I have 'education' on my mind courtesy of the PGCE is that I stumbled upon a letter from my later mother from 2005 in which once again she tried to sell me the virtues of taking a PGCE, even if I didn't have the degree in Art, which is all I could then see me teaching, not Geography (my first degree), perhaps History (gained in 2016) or Education (my MA here gained in 2013) or even sport given my loft Swim England Coaching qualifications. 

Of what value were our school 'reports' from Prep School in the 1970s? Everything is about place in term, place in exams, and the disparaging remarks such as 'Rather disappointing! He is VERY careless over elementary and his oral work is weak'. As I was 10.2 I rather blame the dreadful teaching practices of Mr Denis Sullivan who caned boys who couldn't recall accurately vocab lists he drilled into us. Mathematics > excellent. As it remained throughout school - have I missed something all this time? Geography 'faultless'. Art 'Excellent'. It all makes me cringe. And I learn 50 years on that most of the teachers had no qualifications to teach. What did our parents pay for? 


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My School Years

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When you are asked to reflect on 'classes' observed it is inevitable that you begin to recall the best and worst of your own education, those 13 of 14 years from the age of 5. I'm helped by a diary kept from the age of 13, should I care to dig through it, as well as School Reports from the age of 9 or 10. Even 'letters home' being one of these rare, pour souls, who was sent to a boarding prep school when barely out of his infancy.

It rancours now less than it did for the first few decades on leaving. As a parent I cannot understand what would posses anyone to send an 8 year old away to such an institution 'because it was the thing that was done' my mother would say. It had never been 'done' in our family until then, short of my father being sent away during the Second World War at a similar age. 

The best lesson, I recall often, out of the mire of Latin which I loathed and was dreadful at, was the story of Romulus and Remus. Telling stories is the way to create memories.

The worst lesson was French. Words and phrases were drummed into us to learn parrot fashion. We were tested on the fly and I could rarely keep up. Given a written test, two of us with very poor marks were threatened with corporal punishment unless out score were higher coming back from half term. The troublesome side of school was not discussed at home; perhaps my mother took no interest. Parents divorced there was not father to quiz me further. Somehow I got the required mark, though I don't recall trying to learn any of the phrases. My friend did not get the mark and was caned. Years later we know he was dyslexic - and that I am ADHD. I was slow to read. My spelling terrible - and that was in English. I loved France and French though. I had to learn it in context, through total immersion and a French exchange in my teens (even though by then I had given up French as a subject). Oddly, I do still learn French 'parrot fashion' using Lingvist. But it is a gentle, supportive, measured method with repetition, replay. Early on I would attach a visualisation to a word in order to help its recall. I've gone, over three years, from a vocabulary of 753 to over 3,300. My plan is to get to 5,000. I speak French from time to time to through a group of French speakers (including mother tongue speakers).

I could recall other classes. I'll save them for now. Reading out in class? Lines of Shakespeare and Hardy. What was that about? To make sure we got through the text before we analysed it? Could I only enjoy the classes I was good at, like art? Whilst Maths never appealed the teacher was brilliantly attentive and keen: I got A grades at Maths and Advanced Maths, even a B in physics. We had some good teachers ... and some bad. Oftentimes we learn despite them.

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Taking Notes 2020

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I have to take notes or I remember little. Or I simple miss what was said. I learnt to deal with this two decades ago by using a dictaphone to record meetings. It made me listen back to what had been discussed to flesh out notes taken at the time and get a fuller insight into what was said, even having a chance to reflect on what was or what was not agreed and the emphasis people were putting on something. That was 1992.

Now I use a phone, to record voice notes, to snatch images of presentations, and what I missed in our Week 5 Class, one student joining remotely who was physically placed at a desk via a laptop so that they could listen in and observe. There would occasionally be a plaintive cry to turn him around or to answer a question. He could hear us and we could hear him perfectly well. Someone offered a story of a partner at a firm of solicitors being wheeled around on a trolley. There are movies where they do this well - science fiction becoming science fact.

If If take notes, old school, like in school or a lecture, then I will miss too much. I won't pick up on conversations, I wont be able to look up and see how the teacher/lecturer is answering a question, or pay proper to what and how a fellow student is replying. My problem, I am ADHD, is that everything is a stimulus to remember something, or think about something else: that font reminds me of a cereal packet, but which one? My fellow student takes photography - has she replaced my colleague who took photography who I only realised had left a week or so yet she has been gone since months ago. Or where have I seen that person before? Why do I recognise her? Is she a parent of a swimmer, someone from Lewes? I will be just as distractable as I go through my typed up, hand written and recorded notes days later but the cumulative time spent ought to mean that I fill in most of the gaps left by the previous pass. 



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Observations of good and poor practice in the classroom

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“The hardest and most time consuming prep for these classes are the slides.” This might be how our tutor feels - she said this a couple of weeks ago, but she’s cracked it with the cool, upbeat font and colours. That’s what would have me fretting for hours: what theme, what font … 

This week there is stuff we just must understand how to do, and why we have to do it. Using Google Classroom (as as student). The docs shared are templates personal to us. We just have to complete one of these and hit the ‘Hand In’ button when we are done.

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We were then taken through her expectations of what we need to include in each of these sections. Were Module 1 a written exam, then these would be ways (old school) to keep the examiner’s pen giving a tick. And the most likely way we will be tripped up is the process of handing in. [Beware using the term ‘to turn it in’ as this is now branded]. Habitually I would try to turn my Open University ‘Tutor Marked Assignments close to midnight. Like at 11:55pm. It caught me out more than once. Making sure I was ready at 11:45pm didn’t help much. It was only when I figured out I should turn something in the day before or a week before. Just get the flipping task over with!

Observations

We talked again about things we have observed in teaching that we consider good practice and poor practice. As we are invited to look online as well as see practice in college I have to wonder if we can stretch this to an episode of Waterloo Road, or Grange Hill, or my favourite ‘Sex Education’ which somehow created a bizzare, mid-Atlantic, international sixth form like college in the Welsh countryside colour-graded to look like the California. See British High School Television series. For the best representation of my school days see the film ‘If’, even ‘Tom Brown’s School Days’ or ‘Goodbye, Mr Chips’ even a bit of the original ‘St.Trinians’ for the all girls school (Casterton) down the road.  

Punishment and humiliation

I recall my own school days and individual classes vividly; there is no need for a schoolboy diary for this: chalk and board-rubbers being hurled across the room, boys being threatened with corporal punishment if they did badly in a test … and a teacher getting me to change my answers in a written exam that they were supervising … let alone humiliation for getting something wrong - despite my best efforts. 

Storytelling

Thinking of the positive, then it is the power of stories in Latin (Romulus and Remus and the foundation of Rome) - making something memorable, and on keeping a notebook of new words (tips for building vocabulary) (which I was told about age 12 or 13 and kept up for another 5 years), or trying to write a poem in French (even though I was rubbish at languages) and getting such great commitment and feedback from the teacher. And the teacher as a good disciplinarian who had our attention and respect, taught well beyond the needs of the exams to keep us motivated and would read every word of some of the very long homework essays I wrote and illustrated (Geography). In these three examples, the realisation that these three teachers were both interested in the pupil and their subject and wanted you to enjoy it as much as they clearly did. It was motivational. 

Feedback and being attentive to the individual

Likewise discussing some mad-cap immersive multi-sensory walk in/sit down ‘pod’ experience as an installation for an O’Level year group Art Class and being persuaded to take an interest in Opera. 

A Person’s Name

More up to date, like the last few days, rather than the last few decades, I shared the importance of knowing and using a students name, and checking what they would like to be called - Bella, not ‘Isabella’ or ‘Oliver’ not ‘Oli’ or nicknames like ‘Lolly’ rather than her name on the class list ‘Lahra’ - and getting Irish and Polish names correctly, whether Niahm, Siobhan or Saoirse, Wanda or Kasia. 

A chance to be heard

And then pronouncing it correctly and then using their name often. And then, like the Chair in any meeting, trying to ensure that everybody’s voice is heard - not just your own, or ‘hands up’ if you know the answer. 

Death by PowerPoint

Of course, avoiding ‘death by PowerPoint’ - the worst case of this being yet another ‘should have been retired’ historian, with no teaching experience, taking a class where, his back turned to us, he reads from one slide after another. In sharp contrast to lecturers I know who might put up 15 slides, each being an image as a catalyst or a prompt for discussion. And the best presenter ever, who provided a prose written text to cover, more or less, what he had SAID (unscripted) during the presentation. He was a barrister; he was used to talking in public.

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Can you post too often?

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Screenshot of using Screencastify Editor to merge two videos

Being digital I'd say not. 

I do two things regularly as an aide-memoire.

I keep a 'day diary' > once a closed blog, now simply a Google Doc broken into days of the week. I just bullet point and add the odd screenshot or link.

I am hit all week (my choice) by emails, or posts in Social Media . Of late these just get grabbed and weekly or even monthly added to a folder in Google Photos. It is surprising what I can find in there, but it works. I have the 2/4 PGCE classes I have attended as notes, some VoiceMemos, photos and screenshots. I will have to 'get these ducks in a line' sooner rather than later. Historically a process that foreshadows a TMA. I should try and do this ahead of each weekly face to face class so I am ready for any questions about what we have already done. I also need to be more knowledgeable of the two weeks I missed.

My immediate reflection is on the nature of the ever changing world of digital tools and platforms. Blink and they have upgraded, been bought by one of the big players (Microsoft or Google). Cynically I expect everyone of these to be able to do everything in due course. Google Meet will be like Sceencastify and no different to YouTube with plugins ... 

I've just done a simple edit of two Screencastify videos in the Screencastify Video Editor.

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Certification in Further Education and Training

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It's for real. I am, yet again, and possibly not for the last time, a student. Cool. I matriculated for my first degree 40 years ago. I've done three further undergrad and postgraduate courses since at each of the School of Communication Arts, The Open University and jointly between the Universities of Birmingham and Wolverhampton. I can now add the University of Brighton.

The smirk on my face is realising that I will once again have access to a library and university resources online, in particular journals. I love to explore. Some might call it getting lost down a rabbit hole, but I spend so long scratching about - with purpose, that I always come up with something interesting. It is how I learn. I indulge my curiosity.

Meanwhile, the approaching fear is for nothing more than a 'micro-teach' and some of the first formal assignment elements completed. I don't half make a big meal of these, which is why I so prefer to 'written exam' at the end of the year; I like the build up to the end of year show. It generally is alright on the night. I feel at this stage I don't know much, that I am not fluent.

My OU experience, which will be here in the data somewhere, is that over the five modules of the MAODE and the two further modules I did 'out of interest' and as an MRes looked a possibility with a PhD after that, my grades went from a pass, to a pass, to a pass and the occasional Merit and then a Distinction. An OU pass is anything over 40 and I did get a 42 for a TMA at some stage. My first TMA for the Research module came in with a cool 92 and the feedback from my tutor that I appeared to be in my 'natural environment' stripping apart the work of others, challenging assumptions and the facts and proposing better approaches. So much for not following that up sad 

We know why. I know why. ADHD gets into everything. It does manifest itself as a rogue 'one / off' switch, as procrastination or enthusiasm, and as self-doubt and mild paranoia, the choice that an easier route is better than the best route. 

Meanwhile, I have lessons to line up and classes to give. I will be running a workshop in November, and taking a class online each week imminently. I am also setting out my stall as it were, for a number of 'commercial' blended learning opportunities. 

The greatest pleasure of all of this, despite the challenges, is knowing what will be on my mind for the best part of two years: I will be returning to this blog and its contents and adding to it. I will be mulling it over, and then seeing where all theory and learning aimed at HE can be applied in FE. (Though at GBMET there are both and I am involved with both).

Onwards. 

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Parameters Help

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Use of Google Keep to create 'to do' lists

There's no escaping it. Of all the blog platforms I have used - THIS is the best. It helps that it is simple. It helps that you can't dick around by scheduling posts for two weeks then abandoning it. And when you get behind, unless I am mistaken - I cannot go back in time. And there is a word limit. And they squeeze file sizes if you post an image. You learn how to compress an image. Parameters help. 

I want to pick up on the PGCE I am taking. A blog is wanted. It started 5 weeks ago. I joined in week 3. I have kept notes in a doc for every class. I keep a 'work diary' daily anyway - no longer formally in a closed WordPress blog, but simply a Doc where I jot down names, people, tasks, links, some screenshots and images. Just enough to remind me what I was up to. Not much better than the Five Year Diary I kept in my teens (from age 13).

I'd like to think there is always enough to job your memory; to remind you what was going on. What 'reflective diary' needs though are feelings: what did I make of that? I did I feel about this? And honesty. So plenty of entries will be closed. And no names, not even initials. But something to indicate to me who I mean.

I am using Google Keep to manage my tasks and time. I like that I can create lots of shot lists of tasks to do to get a thing done. I can be guilty of noting tasks to do that are either such a low priority they will never get done ... or so tortuous that they will left to fester until the last minute. Tax returns come into this category. If I lived by lessons learnt I'd do the things I hate the most first. 

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Back to school

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How more topsy-turvy can it get when 7 years after completing my MAODE, and 2 years after completing an MA in British History and the First World War I return to College to train to gain a PGCE.

My thinking is that to better support teachers I should have come through teacher training, even if my end of things is digital support. I want to be more than a 'support teacher'. 

It has taken some fixing to do and some flexibility between various providers and my timetable but after a false start last year - I went off to be the Head Coach at a regional swimming club instead for 4 months, and after another false start joining this year's PGCE part-time cohort in week 3, I am not in and making a start.

There had been thoughts of my being able to skip the first year and providing of evidence of prior learning i.e. the MAODE, but the MAODE is aimed at teaching in HE (or was), not in FE or secondary where I now work.

I can see, not for the first time, that I will be dipping into this 10 year old 'learners journal' with good reason. I can dig out the learning theory I got so engaged with in the past and now see it applied, whether with 'age group' students or adult learners, which could be colleagues/educators in FE and HE or adult learners from the community.

On verra.

Can anyone offer words as I commence a journey I perhaps should have taken over a decade ago. Though the issue then, as now, is what do I, should I, or may I teach? Degrees in Geography, History and Education. HE study in the Creative Industries. A career in TV and video production. A Swim England qualified swim teacher and coach with 18 years experience ... 

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How does education develop a culture of continual improvement?

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Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and ‘Flow Theory’ and Japanese Kaizen in manufacturing were promoting the approach discussed here by Dylan William in the early 1990s. 

How come education, at least in the some parts of the public sector in the UK, has been so slow to evolve? 

Coursera was launched over 10 years ago to create the best learning and put it online. The Open University has been around for 50 years. 

Digital does not mean remote working, it means working with the very best resources in the classroom and workshop, some face to face, some blended, as self-paced learning and for revision.

It requires a culture of continual change and improvement, something I was closely invovled with throughout the 1990s. To say that education has not kept up denies the phenomenal success of some online learning brands. People are hungry for it. What is more, what you create for your class could be as effective for learners across the globe. 

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It's that time of year

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I'm checking out postgraduate degrees. I need to fill a void. I have the time to study, so that's what I need to be doing. I have areas of interest I wish to build on. 

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I decided to subscribe to the Times Educational Supplement

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Subscribing to a magazine is one thing; reading it is another.

What do you subscribe to?

I get Time Magazine, and Stand To! The journal of The Western Front Association. I should subscribe to Private Eye - every two weeks I am looking around my local corner shop for the latest edition. 

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Essential Listening for anyone interest in what makes humans super-learners: it's our brains stupid

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Sometimes getting stuck in traffic and listening to Radio 4 after 9 O'Clock comes with a bonus. 

Brian Cox and Robin Ince on our brains with neuroscientists David Eagleman and Gina Ripon with steal-the-show Conan O’Brien.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p08kn47j

Comedy can inform and makes it memorable. Look at me 9 hours after I caught it on the radio and listening to it over and taking notes. You should too. 



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Nothing lasts for long

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The new normal in education is constant change. Nothing I learn to do lasts long before a new, better, faster more intuitive way of doing the exact same thing comes along. 

Today I am:

shooting video with a gimbal on my iPhone

learning how to use Pear Deck

trying to take some time off work

trying to get reimbursed from some expenses

And as if these are not equally challenging, 'Estates' decide to lock me in the LRC. Thankfully I have learnt to keep my keys on me at all times - it has happened before.

That and just to make life a challenge I have applied for a job at the Open University ... and at Coventry University Online, and King's College London, and UCL, and ...

Well, you get the picture.

I like change and a challenge.

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All change for a new academic year

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I'm left looking like a bit of a miserable git. And what's with the eye-liner. And there's another falsehood here - I stand at my desk and have two screens. [Five if you include the iphone, ipad and imac also scattered around my desk].

The new normal? More like 'same as before'. I've been working at home since 17th March and long may it last. I have a better setup than they have ever been able to provide at college. 

Will Covid-19 really be seen as the watershed that at last sets us apart from the 20th century? You you have to have lived some of the 20th century to know the difference - at least 20, if not 25 or 30 years of it.

It's odd to feel in demand, even to have head-hunters calling. I am biding my time though. And in truth, do I want the anxiety that comes with a job change? There's a job going at the Open University; that would be an odd one. Back after 10 years. I should never have left?!



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