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Immersive reading and research

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'Read in a subject until you can hear its people speaking', said the Historian EHCarr but who said 'Research in a subject until the narrative reveals itself?'
Permalink 4 comments (latest comment by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 13 Mar 2012, 15:19)
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B822 TMA 3

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I wrote my blog when I had a TMA for H807 to submit and my tutor came online to chastise me. I've got 450 of the 700 words required for Part One written; but i fancy a sleep.
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The Reluctant Vegetarian

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I've done this before and been evanlegical; I'm doing it again for health reasons and intend to moan all the way.

Farm shop visit no longer lamb, beef and suasages, but veg.

So I will make some fantastic soups.

I'll have mushroom risotto, which is the next best thing to a beef stir fry.

I am roasting all kinds of vegetables in the oven to make a vegetable stock to die for.

My in-laws are vegetarian, my daughter is vegetarian. I will do the same ... until. Well, the cholesterol levels drop below X. And I am a trim 12 stone.

So I swam with the club this morning at 7.20 am and feel great. Taking several teaching sessions afterawards I wished I too could be 8 or 9. These are watersprites, I'm a hippo.

P.S. I am meant to be writing a TMA sad

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Ticking off the countries as anyone can gather in a global 'audience'

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As I boy I had a Phillips Atlas. I shaded in all the counties if the UK as in my peripatetic way I stayed with friends, divorced parents and went on holiday. (I still have it stored in a Really Useful box in a garage).

Decades later I know the few counties that I haven't ticked off. I am not widely travelled: France regularly, otherwise the odd trip to Hong Kong, US, Spain, Sweden, Cyprus ... However, it would appear that my blog is picked up all over the planet. My task then is to have views from those countries not yet picked out in the terrific metrics that are provided by Wordpress.

Why not China? Is Wordpress blocked. How about Finland? I don't think Greenland is feasible.

Permalink 6 comments (latest comment by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 10 Mar 2012, 13:50)
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As soon as a new radical market emerges, hundreds of new entrants rush to colonize it.

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Before long, consolidation takes place and most of the early entrants disappear. A few survive. But even these early survivors usually are not the ones that end up conquering the new market. The true winners are those that undertake a series of actions that scales up the new market. How do they do that? Markides and Geroski (2004)

What's going on here? What examples can people think of?

High Street Computer Shops

Knowledge Shops

Quick Print Printers

Coffee Shops

Social Networks:

  • Friends Reunited
  • Tripod
  • MySpace

PDAs & Netbooks


Markides.C; Geroski, P. (2004) Strategy and Business, 35: 2-10

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You are where you work

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 19 Apr 2012, 14:49

What makes a university campus such as Harvard or Oxford a hotbed for entrepreneurs? Is this recreated in closed networks online or at Residential School. How come some buildings induce mental stagnation and disaffection whilst others are a delight? Where (no company or organisation names) have you worked where the architecture, landscaping and office lay-out are conducive to innovation?


Serendipitous interactions, or what Tony Hseih calls 'spontaneous collisions' between people, are what spark ideas and facilitate relationships that lead to stronger ties and more ideas.

Have you worked for such a company?


Hsieh calls his people "culture magicians". Steve Jobs designed this into fabric of Pixar and Apple.

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50 is the new 75

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I've aged a decade since I turned 50 last September:

That one grey hair keeps coming back. I've pulled it out a few times. My right temple is going to end up bald or grey.

I am overwieght, OK that took time. But the blood test that says I have high cholesterol is overnight.

If my career had a peak it was 23 years ago. I'd feel more like 75 if I could retire, but I can't.

I swam the other day with a club. I've stopped red meat and most milk product and go vegetarian on Monday. So one last cassoulet over the weekend?

Stop moaning. Whilst I can't turn the clock back there's no reason I can't have the body of a 40 year old and the mental agility of a 20 something (I am after all studying at a university).


Permalink 3 comments (latest comment by Oliver Thomas, Friday, 9 Mar 2012, 07:13)
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Breakthroughs, Activity Theory and Agency Creative Teams

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 9 Mar 2012, 06:20

'There's never been a breakthrough as a result of writing a memo, breakthroughs occur when two or more people, get inspired, have fun, think the unthinkable'. Lars Kolind, Oticon.(in Mayle 1998) 

If you're on the trail of the MAODE then look at Engestrom's 'Activity Theory' which shows in a chart how not only two people, but two entities interact and create a unique response.
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B822 Block 3 Activity 3.5 Strategy & Vision

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 19 Apr 2012, 14:27

Although widely derided (usually for being out of touch and not reflecting the realities ‘on the ground’) many organisations persevere with mission statements and the like in order to express their sense of direction.

What gives your organisation a sense of direction?

Would you call this ‘strategy’? ‘vision’ or something else?

To what extend does it spring from within the organisation, and to what extend is it a response to the environment?

To what extent is it 'owned' by the workforce?

Is there any evidence of a tensions between the espoused values and actual behaviour?

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Completely blown away by trailer for the new iPad.

Yesterday I read that tablets (iPad will take 74%) will replace laptops. I doubted this until I watched this trailer.

It has what I need.

I have to decide: laptop, tablet or desktop. I don't have the luxury of all three. I doubt I can afford two. The iPad does it.

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The future of pharma

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Stumbled upon @ChrisGondek and listening to a podcast 'The Future of Pharma' with Prof. Brian Smith 

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How to use your blog for Tutor Marked Assignments

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 May 2014, 06:58

This is my approach, it works for me.

Everything goes in here: notes from what I read or come across, sometimes so I didn't lose track of them, course related comments I post on people's blogs too.

A good deal of this remains hidden (private), however I will sometimes 'expose' notes and cryptic thoughts in case someone can make sense of it for me, or chivvy me along to construct some rounded thoughts and sentences with the stuff.

There's some random stuff too.

Tagging matters immensely.

'Search' leaves it to chance, which might help you serendipitously to come across a thought or note you had, but is scrappy and can be time wasting, rather be tag happy and have a system.

Everything gets the module reference, if there is an activity reference this is added as a single word such as 'h807activity3.4' or some such so that it can be searched for and found with ease.

Come TMA time I revisit all the content from that block and start adding the tag, for example, 'h807tma2', or as I'm currently doing 'b822tma3'.

Gathered in one search list I then go through each relevant post refining my thinking.

At some stage I may add further tags to identify arguments or to give it a chronology if that isn't apparent. I then cut and paste to a word document.

I MAY assemble in PowerPoint simply to help shuffle ideas around.

A system?

Hardly. Each to their own. I panic like anyone else over an assignment but know the stuff is here and having done the reading and activities and having shared my thinking and had this coloured and shaped by others that I ought to be able to assemble a cogent case.

Tags are strategic, Search is more random.

I switch between the two when revisiting note

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The University that never sleeps?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 7 Mar 2012, 15:30

Last year in my student group we had a two week sub-group task to complete over two weeks.

There were three of us in the UK: Lewes, Portsmouth and Buckingham with the other three in Germany, Thailand and New Zealand. During the two week period our Tutor Group Forum was rarely silent for more than a few hours.

By the end of it there were over 100 threads to the discussion which I saved to MyStuff (OU ePortfolio) but also pasted into this blog (set on private) as it continues both to illustrate and inspire the brilliance of the MAODE.

It turned my head inside out, demonstrating that the learning experience is far more effective and enjoyable when shared.

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Social Media Course

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 7 Mar 2012, 15:32

I've signed up for a social media course.

It is entirely online and applied. I can apply it as I go along. It uses a combination of short pieces to camera (a minute or so) with text, webinars and written assignments.


It's taken me 13 months to commit having been impressed with a presentation at Learning Technologies 2011 (see this blog, February 2011), seen the team at a stand at Training Technologies last week and then doing a 7 point taster yesterday.

Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Susan Whelan, Tuesday, 6 Mar 2012, 23:40)
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First World War recalled

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 6 Mar 2012, 08:30
My son is off to Ypres.

We live in East Sussex 11 miles from the coast. The school go every year. My Grandfather, a Corporal in the Machine Gun Corps, served between April 1915 and Christmas Day 1917 surviving Arras, the Battle of the Sommes and the 3rd Battle of Ypres or 'Paschendaele'.

I interviewed John Arthur Wilson (1896-1992) at length, recording it all onto Broadcast audio tape, though very regretfully not onto video as had I done so I have little doubt his content would have been repeatedly used, from joining up to training, first casaulties, billets, rations, the Vicker's Machine Gun, desertion, and mud, the guns, every kind of projectile identifable by the noise it made and of course every fatality along the way, but not him, not a scratch, despite repeatedly being put into the most dangerous spots. Or even trwnsfering to the Royal Flying Corps where things wouldn't exactly be much safer.

All this with some of his photographs at www.getjackback.wordpress.com.

Meanwhile I have dug out a set of my 32 copies of 'World War' published in 1934, edited by H G Wells and full of gruesome photographs of bodies in various stages of decomposition.

'Will the War change Britain?' asks H.G.Wells in an article he wrote in 1914 and republished here. He correctly suggested that there would be a rapid advancement in the machinery of war.

Come August 2014 there'll be some fuss made about the centenary of the First World War. Buy before then in Lewes some fuss will be made about the 750th Anniversary of the Battle of Lewes after which the Monarch had am elected parliament foisted on them.
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Tips on blogging

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 20 Mar 2012, 04:28


1) Keep it niche

You come to trust a person to have something to say about 'x' rather than the entire alphabet.

2) Keep it fresh

Depending on your ambitions update twice a day Yes, you have to have a point of view, no you don't have to make the posting public but you need to build a 'body of work'. 250 words will do, a picture and comment and from time to time a link and snip from something you have stumbled upon.

3) Keep it authentic

There's a light, conversational style that i think of as 'BJ' (Blog Jocky).

4) Read and comment on blogs you like

Reciprocity is vital, there is a virtuous circle of being read and contributing to other people's blogs. Vary the pace and approach. It works to include photos and video, though you risk setting yourself too great a task if you imagine you can generate or load a video clip every time.

5) Watch the stats

You can understand what makes your blog tick, what keeps it vibrant. It is motivating to know you are being read.

6) Promote

Put your content in front of those who are most likely to find it of interest or value by sharing it with specific Linkedin groups and by getting it out on Twitter as part of pertinent conversations.

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B822 : Why is anything but incremental change often so difficult for the most successful organisations?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 19 Apr 2012, 14:12

What's your experience?

A gradual cultural shift or a new person at the top and overnight transformation?

Even with the most charismatic leader in charge, unless the company is privately owned, and depending very much on its size, I don't see how anything other than incremental change is feasible or given employment laws actionable.

Unless the business is a football club, or like a Film Producton Company moves from one project to another with a skeleton staff or perhaps a Government Department, but even here, with a new minister of a opposing political persuasion the inertia and scale of the department/organisation (as Cameron and his Cabinet are seeing) negates radical or swift change or your risk strike action and other forms of discontent.

How do Oxbridge Colleges survive?

Look at Balliol as it approaches its 750th year. It has been hosting the Institute of the Internet for a decade so it can't be thought of as backward looking. How much does the location and reputation count? Even, or especially the nature and value of the 'Quad?'

War and natural disaster forces change.

Economic down turn obliges organisations to cut back, to prune. In bad weather they hibernate? Is there a horticultural metaphor to work with? (With those Garden Festivals of the 1980s that was the route to regeneration).

Incremental change of the farming landscape?

Formal education survived concentration camps and the Burma railway. What does it take!

My inclination as a KAI Innovator is to seek immediate, overnight change.

The reality, and I have seen this in small organisations and large, public and private, even from the perspective of a Non-exec Chairman, that long term survival, especially over the lat few years, is the product of caution, indeed of being prepared for the worst while maintaining an brave if not positive and ambitious face. Where can apparent overnight change work? Pop 'acts' like David Bowie and Madonna, TV Series like Dr Who.

But this is the cover, the book remains the same?

Surely any organisation or brand can more easily make adjustments to its brand (yet these two will have been carefully planned far in advance for strategic effect).

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A fellow OU fan? Let the world know with a vote on Facebook

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 6 Mar 2012, 08:32

I wouldn't usually do this kind of thing, but you can do the OU a favour, prove a point to the world and be in line to win an iPad 3. Just go along to the OU Facebook page and 'like', for further Brownie Points add a comment.

Combined this sets us against other univwrsities. somehow we were beaten to the top slot in 2011.


I started in 2001, then took a break.

Back for the last two years with an MA a module away and more to follow for certain: MRes? MBA? Another MA in History of Art or Creative WritinG.

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Here are a few ideas I developed earlier

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My Mind Bursts (FLICKR)
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Mess as the new paradigm for communications

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 Mar 2012, 14:26


Plastination of a Ballet Dancer 

The skin removed from a human body reveals a mess.

The walls removed from a business does the same. It has happened whether or not we like it, even without Wikileaks we are revealing more of ourselves than ever before.


Glass Skull by Rudat

Our minds are a mess if our sculls are made of glass: mine is, I expose and disclose and share my thougts.

Posting notes isn't laziness, it is mess: it is 'messy stuff'.

It is the beginning of something, or the end, it is both unstarted and unfinished. Notes go down well in our 'wiki- world' as it makes space for others to interject, to correct and fix in a way that feels less like criticism and more like collaboration.

Once was a time I'd pick out every misplaced apostrophe, especially concerning 'its', now I care less, ditto spelling. Would I have hewrd the incorrect apostrophe on the possessive of its? Would I have known that I'd hit the 'w' key instead of the 'a' typing as I am with my left hsnd only propped up in bed. And what about the missing 'h' I've left out of 'thougts'?

Too late, I've said it now and my next idea is coming through.

Permalink 4 comments (latest comment by Jameela Bi, Friday, 2 Mar 2012, 18:45)
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Content is not an idea

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Neither is the platform
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1. Don't compare your work to others.
2. Don't give up when presented with an obstacle.
3. Ask for help. You can't be an “island” out on your own.
4. Don't be afraid of change.
5. Plan.
6. You can do it.
7. Don't blame someone else for your failings.
8. Work on yourself or try to improve.
9. Don't let past failings hold you back from future successes.
10. When something isn’t working fix it.
11. Your dreams are not too big.
12. Don't expect someone else to come in, work their magic and save the day.
13. Express gratitude for what you have.
14. Treat others as if they mean something to you.
15. Do professional work.
16. Forgive yourself and others for mistakes.
17. Choose friends who strengthen your dreams.
18. Keep Learning. You’re never smart enough.
19. Don't give a monkeys what others will think of you.
20. Just get on with it.
21. Be persistence.
22. Promote and sell it your only child.
23. Trust your instincts.
24. Good enough is better than never at all.
25. Keep creating.
Permalink 3 comments (latest comment by Susan Whelan, Wednesday, 29 Feb 2012, 23:49)
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B822 Residential School

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 7 Mar 2012, 16:01

Group Fair Presentation

Elective 1

Getting to know each other
Offering something / wanting something
Group hum
Activities rushed

(people use their old picture of themselves before they look old)

"to socialise what's happening, exercise emotional intelligence, organise."


22 in a space for 100 

Divide by Facebook, active or very active.
Divide by part of the country (mostly midlands)
Divide by small or large,private or public companies.
Advice for TMA
Stick to your plan
Stick to the question
What gets you credit

MOSTLY small 1-25 people.  MUST do this and bring LinkedIn groups to the real world. TMA may use networking online to group solve a problem.

Elective 2

Vet and perceptions
Did I see the monkey or am I making the stuff up?
Zimmerman M 1989 The nervous system and the context e.g. David McAndless. individuals are different.
13 or B
Emotional biases
Hot states
Cold states "eddies and currents that steer us.”. Ben

How do you destroy the illusion?


The implication for creativity?

If you have different motivations you will see different tings.

Tagged with significance.
2002. A picture is worth a thousand lies.

"Humans are very good at knitting patterns from very little information." Ben 2011

Assumptions - light from the sun
Anchoring - last four digits of phone number and how many doctors are there in London.

Ley lines and Stonehenge and the same between Woolworths stores in the North East.

Same same but different. Thialand.
If everything's the same creativity is stifled. BEN
Ability to reflect.
Acquire - Analyse - Act

Pulled apart by:

Fundamental attribution
Confirmation bias
Focused on those in white at shirts bouncing a ball. Made it into a competition.
Definition Chaos
Physical state and nature or arousal Affects decision making e.g. Skiing.
MBA for grown ups.
We all have mini-models of how the world works.

Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Susan Whelan, Wednesday, 29 Feb 2012, 14:09)
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B822 Residential School : Facilitating Creative Thinking

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 7 Mar 2012, 16:05

Facilitating creative thinking

Imagery and metaphor
Group Fair
7 workshops
5 electives
General precepts
Specific techniques
Overall methodologies

To tackle concerns that really matter to you.
Reflecting on practice and networking
Understand what can inhibit creativity in a group
Self aware of how your own thinking may help or hinder
Creative problem solving (CPS) solves problems but splitting the process into a series of stages.


Exploration of and definition of the problem.
Open up: explore different angles. Clarification. Ask why? Repeatedly. Or the nub of the problem expressed as. 'how can we ...'
QQ for clarification only. 
Individuals write up an expression of the problem (as provocatively as they like). The client chooses one.
QQ redefined the problems using  what if ...  or a strange way of looking at this ... or it could be likened to ... or I wish that ... Close down: select key problem
N.B. use your skill in judging which technique is most appropriate for the problem as presented.


Alternative ways of dealing with the problem.
Generate ideas and plans
Open up: consider alternative ideas
Close down: select preferred option


Work out the implementation of the way forward
Open up: plan supporting action
Close down: undertake action


Open up: monitor progress
Close down: adapt action
Seems rigid, in practice it is more relaxed and iterative (like a squad session plan, then more intuitive and tailored. The mind is not like the body, and the outcomes are far less easy to define compared to the need to 'go faster for longer'.
Getting off the 'mental tramlines'.
VS premature evaluation
To see something from various perspectives
To force the mind to go beyond its usual assumptions

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NHS and Sitecore

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 13 Mar 2012, 13:15


NHS Direct use Sitecore to manage their content in order to help ensure that the right content is found by the person who needs it.

Content is at the centre of everything.

This means getting content produced by NHS Direct to the right audience hubs, though reversioned so that Google doesn't ignore it.
The Problem for NHS Direct is that people are unsure of the obline choices.

The solution was seen from a persona perspective the answer a combination of the 'Online health and symptom checker' that in a series of steps would get you either to:

  • Deal with it yourself
  • Visit a Pharmacy
  • Have a Webchat with a nurse
  • Or have a telphone Callback
  • Or Referred to GP

Various costs and the potential saving to the NHS were given from:

£219 to call out an ambulance £95 For a visit to A & E Or £32 to see your GP.

Whereas online you can be dealt with for £8-12

While with self analysis it is as little as .O5p

Sitecore Leverages content

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