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Blogging. A private journal, journalistic or academic?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 8 Jul 2012, 13:05

Three Degrees of Blogging

If it plays to how it is defined, a ‘weblog’ then it should be nothing more than a captain’s log, in the style of Star Trek, that logs position and events as they occur.

Web pages, cobbled together into a journal like experience defy what the web affords.

The person who keeps a diary in a hardback notebook, or one of those Five Year Diaries with a flimsy padlock, have to keep notes on specific dates in the calendar, online the daily webpage is a falsehood, it is a devise that obliges something that is wholly unnecessary.

Personally, long ago, I ditched all pretence at writing a daily entry (even if I did so), by archiving entries by category.

Weblog as webstorage or repository.

More like the modern e-portfolio I suppose. The idea concept is easily controverted. Writing pages of fiction, with comments turned on make sharing and critique immediately possible. Allow any number of readers to contribute directly to the pages and the weblog becomes both a blog and a wiki.

Can we ‘wikify’ a website?

And do I coin such a word as soon as I tell my dictionary to accept the term? Which makes me wonder – is there a way for multiple users to share the contents of their dictionaries?

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Reflection or projection? An insight through Vygotsky

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 21 Dec 2012, 06:27

On Reflection

I can appreciate that a psychologist or therapist can guide someone through patterns of thinking and behaviour in order to resolve issues. However, reflection without guidance, without parameters, might simply re-enforce the underlying patterns of behaviour and thinking.

Does it help to dwell on the past?

Might it be no better than what Vygotsky calls ‘ideal woolgathering’? (1998:23)

Might it not be better to worry more about what you do next, your mood, behaviour and attitude in the future – this you can effect, the past you cannot. If reflection is used in any way as a form of assessment then it is inviting the student to expose themselves, to provide a biased insight into how they go about things.

If psychologists are to be understood, as well as the views of some very successful woman, whilst men will overplay their skills and abilities, women will underestimate them. If used as a tool to form a view of a student’s successful acquisition of subject knowledge will such reflection therefore tend to favour men over women?

Would we not achieve more if we treated this reflection as an audit, an objective statement of what took place in the past?

Then, instead of reflection we ‘project,’ we envisage, predict or plan, simple set-out what we’ll do next, do in the future? i.e. we put more thought, if not most of our energy, into thinking what we are going to do, rather than what we did.

I come to this conclusion after three decades of keeping a diary, often reflective.

Far from reassuring me about the value of reflection to change behaviour I detect patterns of behaviour that are so repetitive it becomes boring – too much navel gazing. Some successful people I know don’t give the past a moment’s thought, indeed, I do wonder if it is this that allows them to be successful. Instead of travelling with their head constantly turning to look back, their thoughts and actions are fixed firmly on the future.

Or is reflection of the moment? It is neither of the past or the future. Is it simply a mulling over of things? How prescribed can it be? Is it an objective or subjective exercise? Could someone else do it for you, or of you? Would the views of someone else not in fact be of greater value? Instead therefore of ‘looking at yourself in a mirror,’ you look into the eyes of someone else and ask them what they see.

Most importantly, by reflecting on the past, you plan your future actions, trying to build on experience and to avoid making the same mistakes.

REFERENCE

Vygotsky, L.S. (1998). Child psychology. The collected works of L. S. Vygotsky: Vol. 5. Problems of the theory and history of psychology. New York: Plenum.

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How talking to yourself makes you smarter. What about writing such a stream of consciouness into a blog though?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 1 Nov 2012, 19:01

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Your inner voice.

How talking to yourself makes you smarter.

 

The Voice of Reason. Robson. (2010)

 

I was initially attracted to this edition of the New Scientist as the cover story offered to shed light on the value (or otherwise) of  what some term ‘stream of consciousness’ others ‘this voice in our heads.’ Of what value is it?  And if I can type as fast as I can think it is this a true reflection of what I am thinking, at the pace at which I am thinking it – or does the process lose something in translation? Using how we think and what we verbalise is given value here, which ought to bolster the views of H.E. institutions that ‘reflection’ has a purpose. The article also explains why we need to give things terms, though I’m also always curious to know why certain words last while others do not. If I’ve understood the ideas correctly then there is a suggestion that loose terminology, words for concepts that are not clear or still debated, are counter-productive, we need to be clear that our interpretation of a word, even something as simple as the colour yellow compared to orange, or hues of the colour blue, match the understanding that others have.

 

‘On average, 70 per cent of our total verbal experience is in our head.’ Boroditsky (2010)

 

Language helps us to think and perceive the world.

 

Naming objects helps us categorise and memorise them. Lupyan (2010)

 

i.e. things (concepts and objects) are more easily thought about if ‘verbalised’ through having a name.

 

However, labelling can also bury the detail. Lupyan (2010)

 

i.e. we humans work best at the macro rather than the micro level of terminology?

 

‘Labelling objects helps our minds build a prototype of the typical object in the group at the expense of individual features.’

 

Language shapes perception, argues Gabriella Vigliocca of University College London. Vigliocca. (2010)

 

The pumpkin test. 80% got the object from seeing it alone. 85 % of those who saw it and were told its name got it. While those who had what they could see in one eye ‘scrambled’ only achieved 75% suggesting that a visual with a verbal clue helps to anchor the object in the mind.

 

‘It seems that words prime the visual systems of our brain, conjuring up a mental image when it is seen’. Vigliocca (2010:32)

 

Boroditsky (2010b) recently found that Russian speakers, who have two words for different shades of blue, really are faster at discriminating between the different shades than English speakers. (The once discredited Whorfian hypothesis). The effect disappeared when they repeated a long number to themselves, as this interfered with their linguistic capacities.

 

Fundamentally, knowing the name for something helps identify it. Lupyan (2010)

 

‘It seems that our inner voice changes the way we experience the world. Language is like augmented reality – an overlay that changes how we think, reason and see’. Clark (2010:33)

 

With the above in mind I started the following list with a view to developing reasons for not using the word ‘stakeholder.’ With no end of this list in sight I may need to change my opinion, I may not like the word, but it works. But does it? Whilst ‘stockbroker’ I can see embodies a specific group of people, ‘stakeholder’ for shifts constantly, like a cloud forming under a summer sun.

  • employee
  • shop floor worker
  • management
  • owner
  • director
  • boss
  • line manager
  • people
  • brother
  • colleagues
  • stakeholders
  • staff
  • McWorkers
  • office staff
  • blue collar
  • white collar
  • sisters
  • champions
  • participants
  • slave labour
  • sweat-ship workers

‘Up to 80% of our mental experiences appear to be verbal rather than visual or emotional.’ Hurburt (2010) from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

‘It’s like a guidebook that has been developed by thousands of people before you, who have figured out what is important for to survive and adapt to our environment.’ Clark (2010)

 

Do you work with the radio on or off?

With the TV on or off? Or in an Open Plan office? Do you prefer a library or study? Can you work as you commute? Or on holiday?

 

Based on what we have learnt above what impact might this have on what you are thinking?

 

Does it depend on how easily distracted you are, how focussed? Work (study) in an environment that is relevant to the task and this enhances it whereas work (study) where verbal noise is a constant distraction and you cannot (or could not) work so well?

 

REFERENCE

Clark, A (2010) Language and Cognition, University of Edinburgh. Interview for New Scientist. 2776 (4 Sept  2010)

 

Boroditsky, L (2010a) Interview for New Scientist. 2776 (4 Sept  2010)

 

Boroditsky, L (2010b) Quoted in the New Scientist. 2776 (4 Sept  2010) from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol 104, p7780

 

Hurburt, R (2010) Quoted in the New Scientist. 2776 (4 Sept  2010) from Psychological Medicine, vol 24 p385.

 

Lupyan, G (2010) Quoted in New Scientist. 2776 (4 Sept  2010) from Psychological Science, Vol 18, p1077.

 

Lupyan, G (2010) Quoted in New Scientist. 2776 (4 Sept  2010) from Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, vol 137, p348.

 

Robson, D. The Voice of Reason. pp30-33 Cover Story. New Scientist. 2776 (4 Sept 2010).

 

Vigliocca, G (2010) Quoted in New Scientist. 2776 (4 Sept  2010) from Psychological Science, vol 18, p1007.

 

 

 

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H808 Activity 1.1. The e-learning professional Professional

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 12:08

The following bullet points list the views of the Senior Tutors regarding professionalism. There were speaking in the introductory podcast to the module ‘The E-learning Professional.’ (H808)

What does it mean to be a Professional (or simply professional)?

Robin Mason

* Has been doing it for a long time or hasn’t.
* PhD vs. Undergraduate.
* Has put in the hours or hasn’t.
* Mature or not.
* Experienced or not yet.

Gill Kirkup

* An established field vs. new field.
* Follows standards. vs. No standards followed.
* Part of a professional association. vs. not.
* Part of the UK Higher Education Academy or not.
* Part of a legitimate community or not.
* Committed or not.
* Respectful of learners or not.
* Licensed or not.

Robin Goodfellow

* Genuine vs. not.
* Recognised vs. unrecognised.
* Experienced vs. Inexperienced.
* Independent or not.
* Has a technical foundation or doesn’t.

Chris Jones

* Takes time or doesn’t.
* Specialist (secretive) vs. Part of the mainstream.
* Enthusiast or not interested enough.
* The professional sports person vs. amateurs.
* Autonomous vs. dependent
* Independent vs. not objective or balanced.
* Part of such a trade association or not.
* Specialist vs. generalist.
* Part of something vs. an outsider.
* Formalised standards vs. none
* Monitored vs. Unmonitored
* Little ‘p’ pr big ‘P.’

To these I would add:

* A Professional had form whereas a non-professional does not.
* Self-taught or received a formal education (HE and beyond)?

I disagree with Gill Kirkup suggestion that only in an established field is something professional. I agree however, with Gill Kirkup’s views regarding ‘respect’.

I disagree with Robin Goodfellow’s view that a professional must be independent. Being Professional doesn’t mean you can’t also be biased or bigoted.

‘Big P, little p’ is an interesting idea.

Depending on how your measure up, by Chris Jones’s definition, you are either Big P or Little p. Is it the case that a practising lawyer is a Professional, while a painter and decorator can be professional? Is a good lawyer a professional Professional, while a good decorator is simple a professional painter?

The term ‘professional’ is an adjective and a noun.

Anyone can be described as ‘professional,’ (adjective) by dint of their behaviour and experience, however to be a ‘professional’, (noun), various criteria should be met.

Might a professional be defined as someone with ‘qualified confidence in their field?’

Professionals put in the time and effort, and follow rather than ignore guidelines for the community in which they operate. It matters that you are paid for something you are good at; being a Professional implies that you are paid.

A final thought

What’s a professional Professional? The opposite of an amateur Amateur.

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The e-learning professional. (v. long)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 31 Jan 2013, 06:23

The podcast H808 e-learning SMEs.

(Makes them sound like a prog rock band of the 1960s. Perhaps they were?)

[V. Long version here. 4,000 words +. 1,000 or under in H808 Tutor Forum.

Edited versions in the next 24 hours/couple of days in EduBlogs at www.mindbursts.edublogs.org]

Week One

I may be a professional swimming coach (amongst several things), but my head coach told me ‘I think too much.’ Think less and get the athletes to do more. Keep it simple. If there is any context however where thinking is the currency, literally if we are talking professionalism, then the more I think the more professional I become.

(Or not).

Many would say that a 3,000 word blog entry is 'unprofessional.'

I call it shared reflection, the 'uncut version.' It is the outcome of over five hours thinking on the topic. Hours banked. Ideas turned into cash. By definition when I have made two years worth of regular deposits I may call myself and even be defined as an 'e-learning professional' with the MA to suggest I have joined that club, and a job that for the remuneration I receive makes me a professional rather than a wishful thinking wannabe.

It is unprofessional as a post-graduate student to be flippant and/or verbose.

A professional would keep this down to 500 words, yet I am stretching it to 3,000. The uncut version. Reflection in action. My mind at work. Not the athlete sharing a few ‘mots justes’ after a successful race, but the race itself and all the training before hand. The choice words, bullet point form only with an abridged commentary goes into my Tutor Group Forum. Under 250 words there, is my targert. Under 1,000 words per OU blog had been my thinking too. Blown that then.

Watching the TV I fall asleep.

Listening to the radio (i.e. any audio) I do something else - I’d be distracted anyway, I have to.

In an effort to get into my head the points being made by OUr E-learning Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) I first read the transcripts provided and then listened to the podcast while reading the text.

What shocked me was how much I had missed.

I do less than skim read it appears, all I must do is to look at patterns and shapes. No wonder I learn so little when I do nothing more than read.

Lesson learnt?

This isn’t an 'airport thriller' I can read at break-neck speed chaisng the protagonist as he is in turn chased; this requires a different kind of reading.

It requires effort.

I must work with the text, make notes. Just highlighting choices words and sentences isn’t enough either. Effort I can do. It is consistent effort unless I am working under exam conditions where I struggle. There is always something more interesting to read.

Historically, when successful academically, it has been a huge effort and very time consuming for me. I have to take notes (long hand). Then I have to take notes on the notes. I have to make lists, take quotes and re-order the material. I may still not make sense of it. I need to chase up a few references. I need to find my own patterns. I need to discuss it. Argue about it, agree and disagree. And then, gathering up a wad of papers and scraps of paper the whole lot needs to compost for a few months. Then, and only then, might I start to ‘get it,’ and have something constructive and original to say.

Do any of us have this kind of time anymore? Did we ever?

(My late father, my daughter and a friend, a partner in one of the world's leading law firms, all have/had photographic memories. They would have read the transcript and been able to pick out its salient points after the first swift reading. Not so me, not so us?)

The process you see playing out here is an attempt to mulch the content, slow cook it and hope that I can achieve something in five hours that would normall require five months.

Keep cooking.

The second time round with the SME podcast I first worked with the text, highlighting points and generally trying to get my head around it. If you’ve come across Jakob Nielsen’s ‘Writing for the Web,’ this is what I did – isolating sentences and ideas, creating headings, sub-headings and bullet points, in a word ‘chunking. In fact, I begin to get close to doing what Richard Northridge recommends in the ‘OU Guide to Studying’ (1990) note taking, creating concept cards and then even looking for links and patterns in the text itself.

Lesson learnt?

This takes time and requires effort. I’m not great on effort. My modus operandi is (or has been) to take in volumes of material, but if this is only at a surface level no wonder I am often more frustrated than informed.

Lesson learnt?

Less is more. Rather than chasing a reference, another report or book, I need, at first, to ensure that the text I have in front of me has been dissected, not consumed, not afforded nothing more than a passing glance, but pulled apart, then reconstructed.

Lesson learnt?

Effort

Not the expected outcome of this simple task – my faltering approach to learning laid bare, but a valuable lesson at the start of the module.

At last I’m listening to the podcast.

I made myself think, made myself listen, I 'sat forward' (the technical term for interacting, for engagement.) I made myself read and take notes, made me list the contrasting ideas, the arguments for and against, the justifications ... and to cluster these ideas and adjust my own thoughts accordingly based on my experience.

I had something to think about as I listened.

Do I have anything in common with these e-learning professionals in relation to assumptions and aims?

  • Do I have different understandings of what it means to be an ‘elearning professional’?
  • Is there a distinct elearning profession, or is elearning simply an aspect of other professions?
  • The profession of teacher?
  • The profession of a university lecturer or academic?
  • The profession of a trainer or staff developer or a human resources developer in private corporate bodies?
  • Is there an elearning professional?
  • And should I be describing my job as that of an elearning professional?

My short reply, given my background in sports coaching, is simple.

  • If you are paid you are a professional.
  • If you are the athlete and not paid you are an amateur.
  • If you’re the coach and not paid you are a volunteer.

Therefore, if someone is good enough and experienced enough (or simply good at selling themselves and their ideas) – and they are remunerated for their efforts, then they are a professional.

Rebecca Addlington is a professional athlete. Bill Furness, her coach, is a professional too.

At my swimming club all the swimmers are amateur, though some through bursaries to pay for County and Regional development training are by definition quasi-professional as they are receiving benefits if not in cash, then in kind. Some of the coaches and I do not define myself as a swimming coach; it’s a hobby that’s got out of hand.

I have ‘put in the hours.’

(Which I can qualify by saying I have put in the appropriate hours. i.e. time will not make you a professional, the enduring focus of your efforts will)

One of the key themes of the podcast made by each of the speakers is that a professional has put in the time.

They have put in the effort, gained experience that is directly or indirectly relevant to their e-learning expertise – and by dint of this expertise (and being paid by the OU, for books and reports, lectures and workshops too perhaps) they are all professionals.

At the swimming club many of us (its the biggest club in the South of England) have earned our places through years of experience, gaining qualifications and attending regular courses (CPD) to retain a licence to teach or coach aquatics. Many of us, paid or not, can call ourselves 'professionals.'

Just as I’ve reduced my core thought to that of the contract between a professional and an amateur, by picking out the ideas of each speaker and doing something similar a number of interesting points regarding what it means to be an ‘e-learning professional’ emerge.

In this see-saw of ideas the protagonists have a habit of changing places.

By defining professional we should also think what it means to be unprofessional.

I’ve allowed this dance to play out as it leaves me with an image of a professional being circled by the professional wannabe, the unprofessional (as yet), the layperson, the naive, virgin student. A mass of non-professionals clamoring around the few.

The points and arguments frequently fall into another diametrically opposed set: the qualitative vs. quantitative, an objective point vs. the subjective, a value judgment vs. the facts. Everything overlaps - a Venn Diagram of the points would show sets within sets.

Adrian Kirkup

· Amateur vs. Professional (there are many highly ‘professional’ amateurs)

· Ineffective vs. effective.

Robin Mason

· Hasn’t done it for long vs. been doing it for a long time

· Undergraduate vs. PhD (A sub-set of the above)

· Hasn’t put in the hours vs. has put in the hours (more of the same)

· Immature vs. Mature (a variation of the same. Though professionalism is not a consequence of maturity)

· Inexperienced vs. Experienced.(Experience that takes time to acquire, and a certain manner to be effective)

Gill Kirkup

· A new field vs. an established field. (Disagree. Though a new field of subset of a professional activity would be definably professional).

· New vs. Established. (as above)

· No established standards vs. abides by general and specific received standards.

· Acting alone or part of a professional association.

· Part of the UK Higher Education Academy or not. (a subset of the above)

· Part of a legitimate community or not. (as above)

· Committed vs. Uncommitted.

· Respectful vs. Disrespectful.

· Respect for the individual learner, incorporating research and scholarship, the development of learning communities online is a hugely strong component in professional elearning practice. (successfully combines the subjective and unquantifiable with the quantifiable and objective)

· Juvenile and professional vs. professional only if matured. (as Robin Mason)

· Unlicensed vs. Licensed.

Robin Goodfellow

· Genuine vs. not genuine.

· Unrecognised vs. Recognised.

· Inexperienced vs. Experienced.

· Independent vs. tied (to government or a business).(disagree)

· Technical foundation vs. no technical foundation

· No need for a label, e-learning professional vs. professional enhancer. (strongly agree)

Chris Jones

· Takes time vs. no time.(as Robin Mason and Robin Goodfellow. You have to put in the time to become a professional. Which I guess applies as much to the professional criminal, as the Professional lawyer. Little p, Big P- see below)

· Part of the mainstream vs. Specialist. (disagree)

· ‘Lone Ranger’ and early stages of innovation ... vs. early majority and established (themes of Rogers)

· Enthusiasts vs. the not interested. (strongly agree)

· Society and the professionalisation of modern life (quotable)

· Sport in the 20th century and professional vs. amateurs in sport

· Traditional and modern professionals

· Autonomous vs. dependent

· Trustworthy vs. (spin/PR/Branding/Agenda)

· Not part of a trade association or governing body vs. part of such an association

· Generalist vs. specialist

· An outside vs. part of something

· Formalised standards vs. none

· Unmonitored vs. monitored

· Is there a distinct elearning profession, or is elearning simply an aspect of other professions?

· Little ‘p’ pr big ‘P.’

Jonathan Vernon (moi)

· Doesn’t look the part vs. looks the part.

· Lacks form vs. has form.

· Self-taught vs. ‘done a course.’

· Qualified (with the piece of paper to prove it) vs. Unqualified (however expert they may be).

Some thoughts on the points identified above

It is worth reflecting on Robin Mason’s point about ‘putting in the hours.’

The suggestion that genius and expertise requires 10,000 hours of effort is no urban myth. A study carried out at the Berlin Music Conservatoire identified three groups of graduates. Asked to estimate how many hours of practice and playing each student had put in since picking up an instrument they were then divided into three distinct categories: up to 4,000 hours, up to 8,000 hours and up to 10,000 hours. The first became teachers, the second category got places in orchestras whilst the tiny number who had put in 10,000 hours (takes around 10 years to do this) were most likely to be the solo artists, the concert pianists, the mavericks, the Vanessa Maes and Mozarts. Whilst all these categories are professionals, they are paid for their skills, the use of the word ‘professional’ to distinguish those who are expert, who have attained a certain standard, would in my view apply to the musicians who have made it into a top orchestra – with the soloists in a category beyond the ‘professional.’ Our ‘OU H808 E-learning SME professionals', given the decades of thought they have put into what we now define as ‘e-learning’, have been part of this ‘orchestra’ of professionals for some time, and who knows, we may have a Mozart amongst them. Personally, I've not read enough from any of them yet to know any better. I look forward to hearing what they have to say and how they say it.

Interestingly, Robin Mason returns repeatedly to a theme of time passing, of gaining, requiring or acquiring maturity of thought. Though I feel as if I am clutching at ideas in an amorphous cloud here, my sense is that whether it is professional with a big P or a little p, that the word ‘maturity'; might say it all.

What does maturity imply?

Growing up, lessons learnt, age, growth, adult hood, a way of behaving, able to fit in and contribute to a community and so on.

I disagree with Gill Kirkup

If I have understood her correctly regarding her suggesting that only in an established field is something professional whilst in a new field this is not possible. We can all think of (or at least imagine) an unprofessional ‘professional.’ The corrupt lawyer, the doctor struck off the medical register, the TV food expert who is not a doctor at all (and so a sham professional).

In 2000 I would have defined myself, as some of the panel here would have done, as what is now termed an ‘e-learning’ professional. After fifteen years in corporate communications, training and learning, creating linear, then non-linear and ultimately web-based materials the companies and government department for whom I worked through various production companies had to see me as ‘professional.’ I hadn’t done the post-graduate studying, but I’d learnt through observation and experience (first carrying video kit into the changing rooms of a nuclear power plant age 17 assisting with a training film for BNFL at Sellafield).

Interestingly, I don’t currently consider myself to be an e-learning or a learning professional and even with the MA I hope to gain in 2011 I will by my own definition not be a professional until I am being paid for my expertise.

To use a horse-racing term I lack 'form.'

I'm literally out of the race (for now).

Being studious here and building my confidence is part of the plan to regain the 'professional' tag.

Does a barrister on retirement cease to be a professional lawyer?

Socio-econonmically he/she would still be defined as a 'professional' would they not?

I agree however, very much, with Gill Kirkup’s views regarding ‘respect’ and her definition of an e-learning professional within the academic community.

Respect for the individual learner, incorporating research and scholarship, the development of learning communities online is a hugely strong component in professional elearning practice.’

(This, for me, successfully combines the subjective and unquantifiable with the quantifiable and objective. i.e. you can be a professional Professional).

I disagree with Robin Goodfellow’s view that a professional must be independent vs. tied (to government or a business). If we look beyond e-learning professionals and academia it would be quite wrong to say that someone is not professional simply because they represent the interests of an organisation or government department, let alone are being paid to take a certain stance or have a strongly held view (left or right wing politically, religious or atheist and so on).

If nothing else, I believe I have shown above that there is a natural dichotomy, if not a debate even an implicit conflict, between views on whether a person, or institution, or field of study, can be defined as professional or not, worthy of study or not.

It is engagement in such a debate where a professional proves their credentials.

A professional is a match for anyone, whilst the unprofessional would not play by the rules, make excuses, bow out...

Dare I imply that all the above are differentiating between the educated and uneducated?

Is it so black and white? Students at school, scholars as Edwardian’s would have defined them, and undergraduates, graduates too, in terms of education can never be defined as ‘professional.’

Or can they?

The government pays students to go to college, to stay on in secondary school after the age of 16 – does not this make them pros, like a boy of a similar age getting paid to play football in an academy, they literally ‘turn pro.’

I agree with Robin Goodfellow that there is ‘need for a label’, that what is currently the e-learning professional may be the ‘professional enhancer ‘of the future if the UK HE Academy has their way (though I doubt the term will stick). Just as Robin was (we were) once web-based learning professionals, or learning professionals, or professionals in education...

Big P, little p (Chris Jones) is the most memorable expression of an idea in relation to the professional Professional that I take from this and a worthy talking point. And 2,500 words in I could sum it up with a Twitter count.

Professional is an adjective and a noun.

Anyone can be described as ‘professional,’ (adjective) by dint of their behaviour and experience, however to be a ‘professional’, (noun), various criteria should be met. Depending on how your measure up, by Chris Jones’s definition, you are either Big or Little P.

(I can think of other categories where a similar way of looking at things could be applied, for example, ‘engineer’. The person who fixes my washing machine may call himself an ‘engineer,’ but Isambard Kingdom Brunel was an ‘Engineer’. A sports psychologist is no longer allowed to call themselves such, they are sports scientists. So Psychologist, if not professional, not has a legally binding form of expression and use).

I disagree however with Chris Jone’s view that Professionals (big P you notice) have to be specialists whilst implicitly, if they are professional at all (little p) they are not, or unlikely to be so if they are part of the mainstream.

Or do I?

(I'm changing my mind as I write this, reflecting on a matter tends to do this. You twist yourself in so many knots and then find you are looking in the opposite direction - and happy to do so)

Onwards

Is there an implicit elitism here that makes me uncomfortable, an obvious them and us?

As a Professional I am not ‘part of the mainstream’ ?

Yes, that’s it.

You see the ‘mainstream’ is the population, everyone, in the universe that we are discussing. Professionals are of the mainstream, of society, even if they are a subset community within the broader community.

The likes of Richard Dawkin and Stephen Hawkings are 'professional Professionals' by their engagement with the world, not because of an elitist, hide-themselves away hermit like attitude to knowledge acquisition. Do Simon Schama and Neil Ferguson fall into the same category of professionalism?

Be published and damned, broadcast and be damned even more?

But you don't have to be famous to be Professional (though I dare say you'd cease to be professional if you became infamous).

Or have I been making a mistake through-out this internal debate ... this reflection – that we have always only been discussing Big P professionalism ONLY as part of ‘the whole thing,’ i.e. the specific category of the ‘e-learning Professional’ and just as this time round I haven’t given a moment’s thought to ‘e-learning’ as a term, I have nonetheless unnecessarily dissected the term ‘professional.’

I’m yet to click through the OED online.

I daren’t. It may be my undoing.

Back to my idea of a Venn Diagram.

If ‘professionals’ is the universe then we have two subsets, Professionals (Big P) and professionals (little p) (the noun only). Far smaller, and intersecting both these sets, we have ‘e-learning.’ There are in e-learning little P and Big P professionals.

Still with me?

But there are also non-professionals, and even  the unprofessional to consider. Can they also be defined as Non-professionals (Big N) and Unprofessionals (Big U).

Final thoughts

Might a professional be defined as someone with 'qualified confidence in their field?'

Not finished yet

I've got a Venn Diagram to draw, some visualising to do.

Can a loner be a professional?

I enjoyed Chris Jones's point about the ‘Lone Ranger’ that in early stages of innovation there are maverick, loners having a go at something new way ahead of anyone else - think Dr Emmett Brown in 'Back to the Future' tinkering away at the construction of a time-travelling automobile. Are such people professionals or even professional? Does this 'odd-ball' behaviour disenfranchise you from the professional community, even if you have the mind the size of a planet?

A consultant escapes the hospital ward for a couple of years to undertake research. Just because they are beavering away on their own, being a 'Lone Ranger' doesn't disqualify them from the category of 'Professional,' (Big P), or even 'professional Professional' (little p, Big P).

Dare I suggest that our panel of e-learning experts are 'professional e-Professionals' ?

I don't even begin to delve into the thinking behind innovation diffusion. This is an entire module in its own right. It is called 'Innovations in E-learning', or H807 for short.

For more read 'Diffusion of Innovations' E.M.Rogers. (2005) 5th edition.

Nor am I going to teach the definition 'e-learning.'

Is there a professional 'look.'

Forgive me if I make a comparison here between the need for barristers to put on the appropriate garb in court and so look Professional with a big p, compared to those wishing to be called professional and seen as Professional who don't look the part. Poolside as coaches it is expected that all teachers are appropriately dressed in the club colours and well groomed - this looks professional. There was once a time when teachers wore a jacket and tie, so looked professional like fellow professionals such as lawyers and doctors. Don't academic look the part, 'look professional' in their gowns and mortar-boards?

And having addressed 'looks' can someone sound 'professional?

Think how a director chooses actors to play a role. Look at Michael Cane in 'Educating Rita,' is this the stereotypical professional Professor?

Another discussion, but coming from corporate communications we have been through exercises of using authentic presenters (people who work at the place) compared to buying in 'professional' presenters. To do justice to the message in the TV medium the professional broadcasters were far better at putting over the points the client wanted to make.

As I said, another discussion, a different thread.

P.S. It would be unprofessional to post such a long entry into a tutor forum, where a 500 word, even a 250 word version will be posted (the bullet points, or just my thoughts on the key bullet points ... or just where I strongly agree or disagree).

Lesson Learnt ?

Professionals put in the time and effort, and follow rather than ignore guidelines for the community in which they operate.

It strikes me that academics, like creatives, are more interested in reputation and recognition than money.

Is it not striking that not one of our panel mention it?

Can you be a professional without it?

And what about spelling and grammar?

The ability to communicate. Have I mentioned that. Can the professional spell?

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Web-Based Training (Part One)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 Nov 2012, 07:19

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Web-Based Training (WBT) (2000)

Margaret Driscoll

I bought this book in 2001. Nearly a decade on I am delighted how apt it remains, even if the term may now have been superseded by e-learning - while cyberlearning had currency for a few years too and before this we had 'interactive learning'.

Even a decade on I recommend the book.

Training and learning are in different camps, one supposing a component of applied engagement (health and safety, fixing photocopiers, burying uranium trioxide, driving a delivery van, making cars, selling phones, employee induction) while the other is essentially cognitive (though with its physicality in this kind of prestidigitation).

Yet we made ‘training programmes’ on things like cognitive behavioural therapy. Corporate and government clients had the money to do these things.

Driscoll’s definition of WBT is somewhat longer than Weller’s definition (2007) of e-learning (electronically enhanced learning with a large component of engagement on the Internet). A bit ‘wishy-washy’ my exacting Geography A’ Level teacher would have said.

Hardly a clear definition if it has a let out clause. But when was anything clear about what e-learning is or is not, or should be? The term remains a pig in a poke; its most redeeming factor being that it is a word, not a sentence, and fits that cluster of words that includes e-mail.

Web-based training Driscoll (2000) says should be:

  • Interactive
  • Non-linear
  • Easy to use graphic interface
  • Structured lessons
  • Effective use of multimedia
  • Attention to educational details
  • Attention to technical details
  • Learner control

I like that. I can apply it in 2011. I did.

I was reading ‘Web-Based Training’ (and using the accompanying CD-rom) in 2001 and then active in the development of learning, or knowledge distribution and communication websites for the NHS, FT Knowledge ... and best of all, Ragdoll, the home of Pob, Rosie and Jim, Teletubbies and the addictive pleasures of ‘The Night Garden.’

We may call ourselves students, mature students even, or simply post-graduates, but would we call ourselves ‘Adult Learners.’

It’s never a way I would have defined my clients, or rather their audiences/colleagues, when developing learning materials for them in the 1980s and 1990s. Too often they were defined as ‘stakeholders,’ just as well I saw them as people and wrote scripts per-the-script, as if for only one person.

That worked, producing for an umbrella term does not.

Adult Learning doesn’t conjure up innovative e-learning, perhaps because of the connotations Adult Learning has inelation to the catalogue of F.E. courses then comes through the door every July or August.

This definition of an ‘adult learner’ would apply to everyone doing an OU course surely?

The special characteristics of adult learners Driscoll (2000:14)

  • Have real-life experience
  • Prefer problem-centred learning
  • Are continuous learners
  • Have varied learning styles
  • Have responsibilities beyond the training situation
  • Expect learning to be meaningful
  • Prefer to manage their own learning

With some of these definitions baring more weight than others, don’t you think?

REFERENCE

And additional references used by Driscoll but not cited above:

References (Adult Learning)

Knowles (1994) Andragogy in action. Applying modern principles of adult learning.

Brookfield (1991) Understanding and facilitating adult learning

Cross (1992) Adults as learns: increasing participation and facilitating learning.

Freire (1970) A cultural action for freedom

Merriam and Caffarella (1991) Learning in adulthood

Kidd (1973) How adults learn

 

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Up and running. H808

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An hour in the middle of the night has been spent reading through the first task and all the various forum entries in H808 'The E-Learning Professional.'

This and applying for a job. Stymied by the need for three references. I've been such a hermit these last few years I worry that beyond family and friends the only reference I could get would be from my hairdresser and she might say something like 'he may be on time but I know he's seeing the barber down the road as well.'

Three dreams over the last ten days are bugging me - my lengthy reflection on these will go into the WordPress Blog (unless they prove to have something to do with the OU). I use a 27 point survey that usually reduces the dream to some mundane conclusion, though occasionally offers something more profound.

Ever on the look out for 'e-' words I spotted 'e-nose' in last week's New Scientist.

The e-nose refers to an 'electronic nose' rather than an 'electronically enhanced and largely online nose' that is the 'e-' of e-learning. The e-nose can identify certain scents electronically, it transpires ... (though not across, the Internet) ... yet. It wouldn't surprise me if a Google-e-nose were developed that could be used to search for and then offer recipes for food from your fridge that has escaped its packaging. Hold it up to your webcam and Google will advise.

The following was written out long hand with an ink pen.

I wonder if there is a stylistic difference, greater fluidity? (My son had squirreled the lap-top away and being the dead of night I didn't want to disturb him).

Is there software that can spot the stylistic difference of something written directly into a word-processor, like this ... or written out long hand, like this:

Reflection

Whilst reflection is meant to help tackle complex problems, what if the issues are so chaotic, long term and intractable that far from helping to resolve a problem the act and habit of reflection simply re-enforces the mess?!

E-Learning

How much of it is online?

And how much of it is even electronic and/or enhanced?

This happens to be a reflective note being written long-hand onto a recyled A4 ruled pad of paper. It is anything but electronic, or digital. Nor, as yet, is it shared or offers any chance of interaction, let alone collaboration with a group of friends, community of fellow students or the wider world.

The most important part of this experience is taking place in my head and is either one step behind, or one step ahead of this writing process. It is stream of consciousness. It is a singular, lonely and individual occurrence from which little will be gained by sharing it.

This is it: learning in which the 'e' is highly tangential.

Indeed, I'd go as far as to say that the 'e' component of my online learning, or web-based learning, or iLearning experience with the OU thus far is one in which the online quality of the process can be as discretely packaged as you would a book, a lecture or a face-to-face chat with a fellow traveller - it is one part, even a distinct part, an entity with barriers, parameters and a physical presence.

It is a part, not even a large part. But a catylst. A resource. A tool. A track. (a word-processed addition here)

An audit of how this learner spends his time studying shows that half is off-line doing that all too traditional act of reading and taking notes; that of the remaining half another 50% is spent at a computer keyboard sometimes not fully aware or bothered about whether I am working online or off, using software on my hard-drive or the OU server.

(a hand-written omission here replaced with the following while typing online)

And if I continue this fractal-like halving of time spent studying, at what point do I reach 'e-'

And does it matter?

The 'e-' is the fleck of saffron in a risotto.

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Making up e-words

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 31 Aug 2011, 04:11

Why is it so easy for English speakers to create words if one doesn’t exist.

‘Web-based learning’ or ‘e-learning’ ?

Which do you prefer?

Does it matter so long as we have a good idea of what it means and entails.  ‘e-tyres’, which I saw ten minutes ago on a van, confounds the logic of 'e-mail' or 'e-forum', it is easy to understand its meaning - ‘buy tyres here online’ (rather than ‘electronically enhanced tyres.’) But when was English ever logical?

The ‘Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the English Language’ talks about word-building or ‘compounding’. This is possible we are told because of the way the Old English vocabulary builds up through the process of affixation and compounding.

A prefix I wasn’t aware was one is ‘to’ as on the English prefix we see in ‘today, towards and together.’

One from my home town, so clearly embedded in its Danish roots is ‘gan’ as in ‘go’ which is used on Tyneside as in the Geordie for go home ‘gan yem’.

The readiness to build up words from a number of parts is a feature that has stayed with English ever since.

In English we tend to concertina words, to simply them. If it can be understood in one syllable, then this works best of all.

Most English vocabulary arises by making new words out of old ones – either by adding an affix to previously existing forms, altering their word class, or combining them to produce compounds. Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the English Language. (1995:128)

Common affixes are:

un-
de-
hyper-

I think there has to be something poetic, something logical, simple, immediately understood and that rolls naturally off the tongue. Web-based learning, web-based training, web-based virtual asynchronous communication ‘Web/VAC’ have had their day (a decade even, 1995-2005). We will ‘google’ forever – no need here for e-search (was that ever used?) and 'to yahoo; would not do. Or e-encyclopaedia when we had Britannica Online and now have Wikipedia.

Never hyper-learning, though if we create the holy grail of game-like learning for the current generation of net-savvy, game-savvy, texting, blogging, social-networking kids then ‘hyper-tivity’ could be exactly what would describe their engagement. I watch and listen in to my son’s antics on the X-box, using Skype, online to the world, organising games, while clicking through web-pages for the latest ‘cheat’ and viewing YouTube ‘how to ...’ Training or Learning?

Terms can be made to change their word class without the addition of an affix – a process known as conversion nouns from verbs – verbs from nouns.

‘e’ isn’t a prefix, it’s a compound of ‘electronic and/or enhanced’, that has been abbreviated to ‘e-‘.

Does it matter?

If it is in common usage and it is understood then whether it follows a rule or a former pattern or not means nada. The great thing with English is that anything goes. What counts is whether people adopt a word and if it sticks. and gets into everyday usage.

‘A compound is a unit of vocabulary which consists of more than one lexical stem. The parts are functioning as a single item which has its own meaning and grammar.' (Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the English Language. (1995:120)


REFERENCE

Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the English Language. 1995

 

 

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4500 hits

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This is OU Land.

Does this mean anything?

There are 350,000 registered OU students.

How many appear here?

Less than 0.5%

How many are active here? Less than 0.005%

Why?

Isn't it obvious.

The platform is five years behind the commercial alternative. This platform should be a roller-coaster of inventive thinking and debate ... it should be ahead of the garbage that is 'social networking.'

If 'Education social networking' is ever going to exist this is the place for it to happen.

The OU is feeding hungry minds into the e-hungry sales profile of others.

 

 

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Toy sword or steel?

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I have for the last six months survived H807 with a toy plastic sword.

The gob-smacking revelation that everything is achieved with far greater ease when you have an up-to-spec computer is ...  or should have been obvious.

I am borrowing a club lap-top. Design - hideous, Feel - awfull. DEsire to even tap at this QWERTY keyboard ... very low.

Once was a time for a few quid you could distinguish yourself and feel distinguished with a fountain pen. Not a Parker, but a Schaeffer ... or if you had a 21st or a 40th or some such celebration coming up, a Monte Blanc Cuban-cigar like phallus of a writing thing.

There's nothing phalic about a cheap Toshiba QWERTY keyboard.

Not upgrading a PC or MAC for six years leaves you squeezing ideas through a straw ... and a world that wants to pipe megatrons of info through your home and into your head FAIL ... if your didgeridoo, or straw, just don't come up to spec.

e-didgeridoo

Now there's a thought, and a word ... a s*** e-word.

I feel as if I have spent six months in training, and suddenly, fighting fit I am provided with the tools I need to communicate.

Voice recogntion?

In French, simultaneously ...

If the French language is to die in fifty years then il faut que je ... essaie ... de reflechire en francais.

 

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How hot are we?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 30 Aug 2010, 12:33

'By looking at written words, and especially those that have been highly valued, we can take the temperature of the society in which they were produced.' Hitchings (2009:124)

Many new words are coined working and existing online.

If they guage the temperature of society then who are we to:

  • google
  • e-stalk
  • e-learn
  • ping
  • podcast
  • twit and twitter

e-mail(my British born and raised 12 year old son calls the 'post,' calls 'letters through the door,' 'Mail.'

Who am I to correct him.

As Hitchings points out, all words assimilated into American become words used by us Brits and English eventually.

The very fact that more people speak English on the Indian sub-content than in/on or around the British Isles implies that the English language is secondary to culture and nation-hood.

It amuses me to learn that'gotten'is of these isles 200 years ago, so not an Americanism, but olde English in every day use. Alongside words such as 'trash.'

Indeed, reading Hitchings, alongside some Norman Davies (The Isles) you come to wonder for how long an English  language was set, culturally or by national or cultural boundaries.

The more I understand about how these 'Isles'were populated the less I feel we have had a settled language, let alone a 'people.'

We are everything and everyone who settles in these islands; I welcome them. As South Africa falters perhaps this mutli-lingual, mixed-race, compost heap of folk should adopt the 'Rainbow Nation' tag?

As Hitchings point out, in a study of London primary schools they found that 300 different languages are spoken. A dear friend is the Head Teacher of school where she can run off the 27 languages spoken in a single class of Year 5s.

A good thing. A positive thing. To embrace, to celebrate and engage.

 REFERENCE

The Secret Life of Words. How English Became English. Henry Hitchings. 2008

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Some interesting facts about English

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 30 Aug 2010, 12:02
Courtesy of Henry Hitchings. 2008

K.O. = 'Knock Out' so 'OK' ... not so!

I’ve learnt something. And so simple. I thought it might be American Airforce derived. Code. I always wondered about OK.

What about F.A.B? From ‘Thunderbirds.’

There are 6,900 different, mutually unintelligible natural languages.


96% of the world's languages are spoken by 4% of its inhabitants.

There are 750 languages in Indonesia.

Eleven languages account for the speech of more than half the world's population:


1. Mandarin Chinese
2. Spanish
3. Hindi
4. Arabic
5. French
6. Bengali
7. Portuguese
8. Russian
9. German
10. Japanese
11. English

Only SIX may be significant in fifty years time:


1. Mandarin Chinese
2. Spanish
3. Hindi
4. Bengali
5. Arabic
6. English

English dominates in diplomacy, trade, shipping, the entertainment industry and youth culture.

English is the lingua franca of science and medicine.

Its position is prominent, if not dominant, in education and international business and journalism.

There are more fluent speakers of English in India, where it persists as 'subsidiary official language' than in Britain.

English as a second language is spoken by some 120 million non-British.

English is spoken by

* 80% of the population of the Netherlands and Sweden
* 50% of the population of Germany, Slovenia and Finland
* 30% iof the population of Italy, France and the Czech Republic

REFERENCE

The Secret Life of Words. How English Became English. Henry Hitchings. 2008
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Fingerspitzengefuhl

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 Nov 2012, 18:50

'A feeling in the tips of one's fingers.' Courtesy of Henry Hitchings (2009)

My journey through the English language courtesy of Henry Hitchings has come to an end. I have read his ‘The Secret Life of Words. How English Became English’ from cover to cover. I’ll have to read his book on Dr Johnson’s Dictionary next – unless I have something better to do in OU Land. Or get my hands on Mencken’s book on ‘The American Language’ which the late Alistair Cook would often quote.

I feel better armed to deal with concerns for the veracity of such words as ‘enculturated’ and ‘e-lapsed’ time that those of studying Online and Distance Learning (e-learning) must get used to.

I’ve learnt about loan words, calques and coinage; words taken straight from a foreign language, expressions that are literal translations of a foreign language and invented words.

English is a language of constant invention.


I have a put down from the 16th century for any new fangled multiple-syllable techno babble I come across. I can call the author a 'Controversialist  - a writer who spurts out horrid polysyllables; and I might use the line, ‘such addicts of exotic terms would rarely use a short word where a long alternative could be found.' From John Florio's A Worlde of Wordes (1598)

I love the French loan word 'Escargatoire' which is 'a nursery of snails'. I am sure I can find a way to use it.

It amuses me that William Fox Talbot wanted to call photography ‘photogenic drawing while after Louis Daguerre we have ‘daguerreotype’ but pushed by Sir John Hersche ‘photography’ and ‘photo’ caught on. (Queen Victoria asked a grand-daughter for a 'photo' in a letter).

I thought of ‘stakeholder’ as a word that had to be 1970s corporate speak, only to learn that it was first used in 1850, along with entrepreneur and capitalist

Etiquette has become ‘netiquette’ in OU Land

This is a Georgian notion and appears in Johnson's dictionary of 1818. One piece of advice given regarding etiquette is to 'be discreet and sparing of your words.'

With is in mind, as I begin a new module my self-imposed rules will be:

  • Messages under 50 words
  • Forum replies and entries under 250 words
  • OU Blog global entries under 250 words, OU entries under 500 and private entries as long as I wish, but probably under 2,000 words
  • MyStuff under 1,000 (though I plan to break these entries into more manageable ‘learning objects,’ like the paper equivalent of waht in 1990 the OU called a ‘Concept Card.’

(I have also broken this entry into four parts to keep the wordage down per entry. More to follow.)

Hitchings leaves mention of the Internet to the last pages of the final paragraph

'Online communities, which are nothing if not eclectic, prove an especially rich breeding ground for new words.'

* extremes
* deliriously ludic (sic)
* personalised
* localised

REFERENCE

The Secret Life of Words. How English Became English. Henry Hitchings. 2008

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Face-to-face learning versus e-learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 Nov 2012, 20:53

Crucial to my development and understanding of e-learning is to have some one or two people I can discuss issues with face-to-face.

One an multiple MA graduate now with a Diploma in E-learning, the second a PhD Tutor in Environmental Law and the third someone who commissions e-learning projects (though he sticks with 'online learning' as the only term that is understood by lay-people).

A fourth person is a giant in education who in his 85th year just wonders if I can help put the papers he is still writing online to share with students. All he has in mind are a few dozen papers on a platform such as EduBlogs, which I can do.

My goal is to 'map' the many thousands of papers and books that are stacked three layers deep, to the ceiling, in his three-storey 15th century Cotswold home! i.e. The Contents of his Brain.

On verra

P.S. We've jsut had an hour long power-cut. The panic as two adults and three kids scramble around not knowing what to do is notable. I got my hands on the laptop so could press on under battery (but no internet connection as the router was down). My wife took a break from a mega pharmaceutical report she is writing to take her dog on an extended walk, while the boys (family and friends) gave up on dual Xbox and Internet activities to play poker!

Perhaps I could put a time on the electricity junction box to deny us electricity at random times through-out the day.

We might start talking to each other instead of e-mailing and messaging around the house.

Meanwhile, three computers are up and humming and my son is back on Skype planning some 15 rated Afghanistan-like raid with his cousin (300 miles away) and couple of Americans (one who calls himself David Hasselholf, but isn't as his voice hasn't broken) and someone's Mum who pretends to be her son as she likes the game more than he son does (I listen in).

All computers are in communal spaces in the house so that activities are surrepticiously or indirectly monitored.

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E-words

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 27 Aug 2010, 07:08

A word, or new use for a word, should, because of its context, not only slip into usage unnoticed but ought also to be immediately comprehensible.

I like 'e-learning.'

When I began studying Open and Distance Learning in 2001 'online learning' and 'web-based learning' covered the topic - inadequately it would appear. We ditched 'iLearning' as pertaining to nothing more than 'interactive' and therefore missing all things WWW, all things Web and Internet. iLearning could be done off-line which somehow diminished it.

All of this is as much an off-line experience as an online one.

This is what the Internet 'affords' we can trawl for chunks of information and take it all 'off-line' if we wish. At times I don't know or care to know if I am online or not, receiving messages or not, on, in or under this 'digital ocean,' or on the beach, catching this binary fret.

There are no paramteres, no boundaries ... information is chunked and diced and hung out to dry or digitise, to flourish or flounder.

Can consciousness be defined? Bagged? It is no different whether express in print or online.

So why e-learning but not e-consciousness?

They're of the mind and the mind defies being differentiated by platform.

o-Learning. With Socrates, it is oral.

p-Learning. With Caxton, in print.

tv-Learning. With the OU, in the middle of the night.

e-Learning. Anywhere on the Internet.

Though if it is like e-mail that it is little more than electronic ping-pong with gobbets of data.

iLearning. Interactive or personalised to the 'id,' with 'me' in mind?

iou-Learning. Interactive or 'Internet Open Universtity' Learning.


‘Part of the difficulty of understanding and implementing e-learning is that there is no one unique description for ‘e-learning; terms and conflicting definitions abound – ICT, learning technologies and e-learning are all terms that have been described to cover aspects of this area.’

Conole et al; (2007:72)

How does 'e-learning' or 'e-tivity' translate? Do other languages adopt these terms as 'loan words?' Or do the have their own words for these things? What are they?

REFERENCE

Conole, G; White, S and Oliver, M in Conole and Oliver (eds)  Contemporary perspectives in E-Learning Research. (2007)

 

 

 

 

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E-words and the Oxford English Dictionary (OED)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 26 Aug 2010, 13:20

I've just negotiated my way into the OED online dictionary and have had my mind exploded.

Amazing. Thrilled. Delighted.

My quest is to share views on the word 'activity' and whether its reversioning to 'e-tivity' is justified beyond some kind of quasi-academic brand-speak to sell a book and a concept.

'Activity' is first cited in 1530. Kicked off-line in 2001.

Let's campaign to support these words rather than having them digitised into oblivion.

Let's use our booted heels to hack the 'e-' barnacle from words that deserve better. That stand alone. That have a meaning that is only diminished by adding 'e-'.

Let's ditch the unnecessary e-attachments.

Meanwhile, I'm off to lose myself in the OED where words are nutured like rare beasties kept alive, breeding and happy in a Rare Breeds Survival Trust.

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E-J

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We know about DJs broadcasting on radio, so how about an e-J doing likewise online?

 

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E-words. E-terms. E-lexemes.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 May 2014, 11:22

Inspired by The Secret life of words. How English became English. Henry Hitchings (2008)

‘Communications is essential to our lives, but how often do we stop to think about where the words we use have come from?’
Hitchings (2008)

Whilst ‘where words came from’ is the premise for ‘The Secret Life of Words’ it is much more: it is a history of the people who spoke English. It is a refreshing take on a chronology of events. We learn history through words for warrior, through the Anglo-Saxon, French and Latin word for the same thing ... and through the words the English language has so easily accommodated from across the globe. It is a fascinating journey, one made pertinent to someone studying on the cascading wave-edge of the digital ocean that is ‘e-learning’ with the frequent coining of new terms.

For a description of the way the English language functions (or mis-functions) I love this:

English is ‘Deficient in regularity.’

From James Harris (c1720) in Hitchings (2008:1)

It is exactly the kind of thing a teacher might write in red pen at the bottom of a school-boy’s essay.

This is another way of putting it. English, ‘this hybrid tongue’, as Hitchings calls it. Hitchings (2008:2)

A tongue that re-invents itself, twists and transmogrifies at every turn.

A couple of decades ago I recall there being suggestions that the English language would splinter into so many dialects, creoles and forms that a speaker of one would not understand the user of another. The opposite appears to be the case, that ‘core English’ has been stabilised by its myriad of versions. Users can choose to understand each other or not, to tolerate even celebrate their differences or to use difference to create a barrier: think of the class divide, the posh voice versus the plebeian, one regional accent set against another, or an accent from one former British Dominion compared to another.

‘Words bind us together, and can drive us apart.’ Hitchings (2008:3)

How is the Internet changing the English Language?

What impact has Instant Messaging, blogging and asynchronous communication had? Can we be confident that others take from our words the meanings we intend? As we are so inclined to use sarcasm, irony, flippancy and wit when we speak, how does this transcribe when turned into words? How can you know a person’s meaning or intentions without seeing their face or interpreting their body language? Must we be bland to compensate for this?

I love mistakes, such as this one from Hitchings:

Crayfish ... ‘its fishy quality is the result of a creative mishearing.’ Hitchings (2008:4)

Age ten or eleven I started to keep a book of my ‘creative mishearings’ which included words such as ‘ragabond,’ instead of ‘vagabond.’ I love the idea of the ‘creative mishearing,’ isn’t this the same as ‘butterfly’, shouldn’t it be ‘flutterby’? And recalling a BBC Radio 4 Broadcast on Creativity with Grayson Perry, ‘creativity is mistakes.’

Mistakes and misunderstandings put barbs on the wire strings of words we hook from point to point, between arguments and chapters. We are fortunate that the English language is so flawed; it affords scratches and debate, conflict and the taking of sides.

An American travelled 19,000 miles back and forth across the US with a buddy correcting spellings, grammar and punctuation on billboards, notices and road signs. His engaging story split the reviewers into diametrically opposed camps of ‘love him’ or ‘hate him.’ (Courtesy of the Today Programme, the day before yesterday c20th August 2010)

‘Our language creates communities and solidarities, as well as division and disagreements.’ Hitchings (2008:4)

My test for the longevity and acceptability of a new word coined to cover a term in e-learning will be twofold:

Can, what is invariably a noun, be turned with ease into a verb or adjective?

Might we have an Anglo-Saxon, French and Latin word for the same thing. We like to have many words for the same thing ... variations on a theme.

And a final thought

Do technical words lend themselves to such reverse engineering? Or, like a number, are they immutable?

If they are made of stone I will find myself a mason's chisel.

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Words. Language. Communication.

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'Communication is essential to our lives, but how often do we stop to think about where the words we use have come from?'

Henry Hitchings poses this question on the flyleaf of his gloriously informative and entertaining book on the History of English 'The secret life of word. How English became English.' Hitchings (2008)

Much of what Hitchings writes about in the first couple of chapters concerns how new words are easily accommodated, invented or altered because of certain endearing qualities of the English language.

I therefore embrace whatever new words academics wish to come up with, whether e-learning or e-tivites, e-granaries or 'enculturated.' If they can do it, we can do it ... and I can do it.

Join me on this journey.

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Words. A call for simple English.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 26 Nov 2011, 15:55

'Communication is essential to our lives, but how often do we stop to think about where the words we use have come from?' Hutchings (2008)

The Secret Life of Words. How English Became English

Words matter to me very much

Their purpose is to communicate.

We are all prone to use jargon, and the first time we use it we feel we belong that tribe. Academic writers are prone to the greatestmisdemeanours - they not only invent their own words, but they like to show off their command of words you/we have rarely come across, or they misappropriate words from other disciplines and force anew definition upon them.

Books on words appeal to me.

If Open Learning is to appeal to the broadest church, then clear, simple, language is required.

If you spot any polysyllabic bibble-babble, please do share.

Or is that me committing this very crime?

One long word, and another long word that might be of my own invention. My apologies.

So why use one word with many syllables which few people understand, when a sentence of short words would do a far better job?

Obfuscation or communication?

Showing off or joining the throng, who are your students.

And have I just done it again?

What I mean to say is, 'it cannot help learning if a writer puts in a long word that they and their colleagues understand that the majority don't.

Clear English, is simple English; anything more can be unnecessarily confusing.

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The use of narrative in e-learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 15 Oct 2012, 10:28

I fully buy into the idea of using narrative in teaching.

Without the pyrotechnics of e-technology some imagination from a well informed agent, perhaps assisted by a scriptwriter, could produce a script that is engaging, a journey from which a learner may deviate if something so intrigues them, a pattern with a beginning, middle and end that everyone can follow.

‘Teachers use narrative to teach children difficult concepts and to bring structure to the curriculum.’ Egan (1988)

REF

Bruner (1996.97) ‘Meaning Making’

  • spontaneous inclination to engage in a dialogue with material
  • to improve some form of organisation upon it
  • to make comparison with it

REF

McCloskey, D.N. (1990) Storytelling in economics

Bruner, J.S. (1996) ‘Frames of thinking: ways of making meaning.’ In Olson, D and Torrance, N (eds) Modes of thought. Explorations in culture and cognition, pp. 93-105.

It has been shown that experts in any field tend to embody knowledge in the form of narrative.

Schon, D (1983) The Reflective Practitioner: How professionals think in action.

‘Stories are the method by which people impose order and reason upon the world.’ Fisher. (1987) REF Fisher, W.R. (1987) Human communication as Narration: toward philosophy of reason, value and action.

‘By framing events in a story it permits individuals to interpret their environment, and importantly it provides a framework for making decisions about actions and their likely outcomes.’ Weller. (2009:45)

The framework is the logic of the narrative, the logic of the plot, the role-play of the protagonist (you the learner), the battle you have with antagonists (concepts you can’t grasp) supported by your allies (the community of learners, your tutor and institution) leading to a crisis (the ECA or exam), but resolved with a happy ending (one hopes).

Film-makers, naturally, but also documentary film-makers, bang on about the ‘narrative’ and the ‘story.’

This is how facts, whether naturally linear or not, need to be presented, if an audience, or a larger part of that audience, are to be suitably engaged by a topic.

Some months ago there was a news story concerning how much could be expressed in 40 seconds – BBC Radio 4, Today Programme. Any recollections?

Three experts were called and in turn tried to explain:

1) Bing Bang

2) String Theory

3) The Offside Rule in soccer

Bing Bang was pure narrative, like Genesis in the Bible, with a clear beginning, middle and end.

String Theory had a narrative in they way the theory came about, and just about got there.

The Offside Rule didn't even started well, then got hopelessly lost in ifs and buts and maybes. (I got lost at least. Coming to all three equally ignorant I only came away with full understanding of one, some understanding of the second, and barely a clue with the Offside Rule)

The use of scenarios:

  • as a device for determining functionality
  • as a means for engaging users in the stakeholder’s consultation

Having spent too considerable a part of my working life trying to write original screenplays and TV dramas I am versed in writing themes and strategies, storytelling in three acts, with turning points and a climax, antagonists and protagonists.

I use software like Final Draft and Power Structure.

These tools could as easily be used to compose and craft a piece of e-learning. Perhaps I’ll be given the opportunity to do so.

Narrative … is a useful means of imposing order and causality on an otherwise unstructured and unconnected set of events, but it also means that some detail is omitted in order to fit into the narrative, and other factors are only considered in the limited sense in which they can be accommodated with the narrative.’ Weller (2009:48)

Writing a narrative, for a novel or screenplay, is to some degree formulaic.

Is design of e-learning as straight-forward?

A decade ago it looked complex, five years ago with HTML code package in plug-ins and excellent ‘off-the-shelf’ software coming along the process appeared less out of reach.

Today I wonder if it is more matter-of-fact than some make out?

Addressing problems, devising a plan (a synopsis, then a treatment), threading it together … maybe its having it operate apart from the tutor or lecturer or teacher is what concerns you (teachers, lectures, profs). You are the ones who must learn to ‘let go of your baby,’ to have an actor or presenter deliver your lines. Once, and well. Or write in a team, as writers on a soap opera.

It works to follow the pattern rather than break it.

It strikes me that in e-learning design there may be only a few structures to cover most topics – really, there can only be so many ways to tell/teach/help someone understand a concept … or to do something, and remember the facts, the arguments and concepts … to be able to do it, repeatedly, build on this and even develop an idea independently to the next stage or level.

There is little meat on a popular documentary

There are micro-narratives and their are journeys, some more literal than others, for example, currently there’s a BBC documentary series, ‘The Normans’ and the third or so series of ‘Coast.’

From an educational point of view, what do audiences ‘learn’ from these programmes?

Can they typically recall anything at all, or do we/are we semi-conscious when watching TV, leaning back, not leaning forward, mentally as alert as someone smoking a joint. (Apocryphal or true?)

Try reading the script, try transcribing what is said and look at how far it goes.

Not very far at all.

Such programmes/series can be a catalyst to go to the website or buy the books, but otherwise the information is extremely thin, predictable and ‘safe.’)

If only links could be embedded into the programme so that as you view the programme relevant pages from the Internet wold automatically be called up.

Do you watch TV with a laptop?

Many do. Traders can manage several screens at a time, why not as mere mortals too?It becomes more engaging when you field of vision is nothing but screens, on topic. My preferred way of working is to have two screens, two computers, a mac and a PC, side by side. They do different things, they behave in different ways. I have a team of two, not one.

The medium may introduce a topic or theme, but there is little meat on the bone and we can be swayed by:

  • bias
  • the view of the author/presenter/channel
    • (commissioning editor)
  • negative or positive

(For any longer list of concerns take a course in media studies.)

And if its on a commercial channel there are interruptions for adverts, while even the BBC chase ratings.

Even seen a lecturer take a commercial break

How about the some rich e-learning sponsored by Lucoxade, Andrex or Persil?

This is how schools receive interactive cd-rom and online websites ‘for free.’

REFERENCE

Weller, M. (2007) Virtual Learning Environment. using, choosing and developing your VLE.

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Clashing swords and VLEs

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Inspired by Martin Weller's book on VLEs. Just read Chapter Seven - Standards and Specification and Chapter Eight - Learning Design. notes to follow.

Courtesy of the OU's 1990 book 'The Good Study Guide' I am trying to make my notes less a cut and paste and more a considered extraction of ideas, my agreements, disagreements and questions with a few notable quotes and references to follow up. These are probably then best catalogued and tagged in the OU ePortfolio MyStuff (for now).

Having read 'Standards and Specifications' I am wondering what role e-learning designers might play once a set of common approaches have been adopted? Once every learning design follows 'the script' the way a Hollywood screenplay has its three acts, various turning points, antagonists and protagonists, roles and events.

For every chapter I read, I read two chapters of a Bernard Cornwell Novel 'The Lords of the North' and a chapter of Norman Davies's history of the Isles (UK and the Republic of Ireland).

I won't be able to afford this luxury come September, a new season and a new moduel H808 'The Elearning Professional.'

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On Reading, Taking Notes, Thinking and reflecting. OU style 1990

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 28 Jan 2012, 15:21

On reading, taking notes and managing your feelings i.e how to study

There are notes, nothing more, which makes me wonder why I share them with the world. In this instance I am sharing notes on 'hot to study.' (I liked the typo so left it in.'

This 1990 OU's guide came into my possession by the most circuitous of routes. My father-in-law, a long retired Oxford Don, sent it to his 12 year old grand-daughter on seeing her end of term report sad

Problem is, not that she has read the book at all, if it appealed in any way then she might shun what her immediate future offers: GCSEs then A' Levels which requires a lot of learning, but not a great deal of thinking. (Or does it?)

Here are some notes for Chapter Two 'Reading and Note Taking'

In relation to 900 words or so we were asked to read as an activity:

This takes, we are advised to:

  • Skim read - 9 minutes
  • Read - 15 minutes
  • Read with care (and taking notes) - 27 minutes.

I read it in 3 mins.

Did I speed read? Did I take anything in?

I managed to make notes afterwards, indeed having been asked to answer some questions even more information came to mind. Perhaps this is how I should do it ... perhaps the important stuff is more likely to come to mind if I give it some thought rather than note taking at the same time. I may not have a photographic memory ... do I skate over things? Would it help if I slowed it down? I'd have to read more strategically though, to trust the choices made for me.

An OU IDEA 'Concept Cards'

To jot down concepts and ideas that you DON’T understand so that you can look them up at later, i.e. don’t only makes notes on the things that make sense.

Historically (last decade) I've used FileMaker Pro.

Whatever its short coming I am using the OU e-portfolio, expecting to be able to transfer/migrate the 500 pages of contents over to an off-the-shelf e-portfolio or anything new the OU comes up with in due course.

Taking the hint that ntoes shold be taken of ideas of interest, and value, rahter than taking notes on everything I picked out this:

Creating interest where there is none – when your enthusiasm for a topic wanes think how others think who have found something if interest.

That's useful.

Like a child, too often if a topic or activities doesn't appeal I make excuses and do something else, rather than finding a way to engage.

Questions make reading interesting.

You need to read with a couple of questions in the back of your mind so that you engage with the information.

My questions on the OU 1990 Study Guide?

  • What’s changed in 20 years?
  • How much is just the same?
  • How can I apply this in relation to e-learning in 2010?
  • What advice would others find useful that may be second nature to me? (That I take for granted).

I liken my approach to studying to the way I wandered across the South Downs for five hours yesterday.

I hadn’t even been sure if I’d walk a stretch of the South Downs Way from Newhaven when I dropped the car off for a service, but I had walking boots on and waterproofs in a rucksack. I had no map, but have walked half the route out of Newhaven towards Lewes, and half the route out of Lewes South. Having followede the River Ouse to Southease I then followed signs for the South Downs Way which took me way off any direct track to Lewes in a couple of huge loops. The mile along the road from Southease to Rodmell would have saved a three mile deviation up onto the Downs. But did I want to risk either the dog or me being run over?

I have a tendency to follow my nose (like the dog, her nose took her into a fresh cow pat). She rolled in it.

My reading takes me through a series of cascades as I pick first one reference to chase, then another in this article or essay and so on. Its as if, despite being given the road map through a Maize Maze I insist on looking down every avenue myself, so that I can find out for myself.

If I study in exactly the same way as my fellow students, reading strategically, only reading the course references as there isn’t apparently time to do much more … won’t we all come out the same? A goal for my studying is to have my own perspective eventually, not to project the opinions of another.

Elaborately Cautious Language

’In every day life we cheerfully use language as a blunt instrument for cudgelling our way through the cut and thrust of events around us. However, in academic writing language is meant to be used more like a scalpel, cutting precisely between closely related arguments, so that they can be prised apart and analysed in detail.’ Northridge (1990:29)

An academic text is not a narrative – it is an argument.

An academic text aims to be unemotional, detached and logical.

Whilst I can understand applying this to a TMA or ECA, this is surely not the required or desired approach in what is called a Blog? And for writing in a forum, should we reference everything? It doesn't half interrupt the flow of ideas. If talking over coffee or a glass of wine would we cite references we knowingly made? The lines distinguishing the spoken word to text or TXT or blogging and messaging are blurred if not broken.

Manage Feelings 2.6 Northridge (1990:31)

Find ways of:

  • building upon your enthusiasms
  • avoiding sinking into despair
  • making the topic interesting
  • accepting specialist language
  • accepting academic text styles
  • constructing valid criticisms

My preferred approach to reaching:

  • cafe
  • walk
  • pool
  • while travelling (trains, planes, ferries and yachts)

Though surely not

  • in bed
  • on the kitchen table in the middle of the night
  • in the pub
  • on holiday

(though this can be exactly what I do/have done)

IDEALLY

  • a room of my own

(married life, children and a modest home have left me with a cluttered shed or lock-up garage packed with the contents of our last house - we moved three years ago).


Reading Approaches

Skim paragraph ahead, then read more slowly using the ‘mile stones’ to guide you.

Skimming – about the text
Reading – follow the argument

Lighting skim – very fast.

I typically 'light skim' the last chapters of a Stephen King novel, as the plot becomes ludicrous yet I feel an obligation to have glanced across the page in case at some stage sanity returns (it never does). Though the story will reach a resolution.

Intensive Study – very slow

Something new, something I don’t understand. Something I need to understand or want to understand. But never the small print of a bank overdraft facility. Probably the diaries of Anais Nin and the novels of Henry Miller. Probably the history of WWI, as I need to glean info from it for my own writing. And of course the books and papers I read for H807 (Innovations in E-Learning) and will read for H808 (The eLearning Professional).

Is it making me think?

Am I getting a better grasp of the subject?

‘The underlying purpose of reading is to develop your thoughts; to weave new ideas and information into the understanding you already have and to give new angles to your thinking.’
Northridge, (1990:34)

My reading speed, 300 wpm? i.e. far to quick, but is a page a minute that fast? it does depend of course on the writing style and my familiarity or otherwise with the concepts.

The purpose of reading = 'rethinking' Northridge, (1990:34)

I like that 're-thinking.' So building on what you now already, whether or not you think you know much at all ... or know a great deal.

Rethinking:

  • To develop your thoughts
  • To weave new ideas and information into the understanding you already have
  • To give new angles to your thinking

The point of reading:


‘The point of reading is to be able to understand what you read and to be able to get back the ideas at some future point when you need them again.’
Northridge, (1990:38)

The point of taking notes:

‘Taking notes forces you to think; to ‘grapple’ with the ideas in the text as you read them, because you have to decide what to write down and how to say it.’ Northridge, (1990:44)

I don't grapple at the note taking stage, I find it more mundane than that, I do desire a tussle at some stage, which is why I can find the manner in which we engage asynchronously (its nature) somewhat tame. I don't recommend debating online either, or getting into an argument (or even a heavy discussion) ... when in Elluminate, messaging or anything else.

This is why the face-to-face tutorial at least, fellow students over a beer in the MCR or in a formal debating chamber ideas gain a voice, that becomes your Word, and your Voice.

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The value of electronic literacy in the Internet Age

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 Nov 2012, 06:32

Did serendipity bring me to ‘Contemporary Perspectives in E-learning Research.’ Conole and Oliver (2007) or did I notice that H808 students were reading and critting it?

Either way I bought it as I’m yet to get my head around e-Reader.

Can you recommend an e-Reader?

A kindle or the Sony Reader perhaps? I can’t see the point in an iPad for reading academic journals and books. I don’t want to be printing off a forest and filing on shelves I don’t have either.

Chapter 11 of ‘Contemporary Perspectives in E-learning Research’ looks at ‘Academic literacy in the 21st century’

E-literacy is an irresistible term of course.

‘Electronic Literacy’ or ‘E-literacy’

‘Involving the capacity to locate, organise, interpret and use digital information.’ Conole (2007:160)

Martin (2003) appears to get the credit for coining the term.

There are many forms of literacy, all have their place:

  • information literacy
  • digital literacy
  • electronic communication
  • computer literacy
  • transliteracy
  • information/IT skills
  • computer-mediated communications
  • knowledge construction
  • research


Shetzer and Warshauer (2000), McKenna (2002), ‘Writing as a social practice’ (Ivonic et al, 1999)

These literacies are:

  • shaped by disciplinary norms
  • institutional power dynamics
  • impact of audience
  • notions of identity


‘What we choose to read and how we read may lead to fundamental changes in our understanding of authoritative scholarship.’ Conole (2007:160)

It interesting that Google is often the preferred means of locating academic information (Borphy et al, 2004). Does this apply to undergraduates and graduates? At times frustrated with the OU Library Services I ended up in Google Scholastic but no longer had the access privileges so had to back pedal. Too often links given in text, journals and book are out of date. By way of example of the three links I wished to follow up in this chapter I found only one and that was at a different URL I am yet to find the SCONUL or SCORM articles.

SCONUL (1999) ‘information skills in higher education’, SCONUL position paper. Available online at: www.sconul.ac.uk/activities/inf-lit/papers/seven-pillars.html (CAN’T FIND)

SCORM (2004) Shareable content object reference model. http://www.adlnet.org/scorm/history/2004/index.cfm (ERROR PAGE)

Ingraham (2005b) Filmic and even melodramatic narrative ... used purposefully.

Ingraham (2005b) Exploring the Frontiers of E-learning: border, outposts and migration. ALT-j, 2005. 6-8 Sept 2005.

Beyond the ‘essentially medieval apprenticeship system’ (Ingraham and Ingraham, 2006) ‘E-Quality: a dialogue between quality and academia’, E-learning, 31) http://www.wwwords.co.uk/elea/content/pdfs/3/issue3_1.asp

(ACCESSED 16 AUG 2010. But not at this address, but at this onesmile

http://www.wwwords.co.uk/pdf/freetoview.asp?j=elea&vol=3&issue=1&year=2006&article=11_Ingraham_ELEA_3_1_web

I have a problem with some PDF files too, but that’s down to an eight year old iBook not being able to upgrade to the latest ADOBE PDF software. A new iBook beckons.

This theme of literacy given a book in its own right. How though do institutions recognise the many different ways students may wish to pursue and assemble content and information in future?

Literacy and multiple literacies (Kress, 1997)

‘It is a normal and fundamental characteristic of language and literacy to be constantly remade in relation to the needs of the moment.’ Conole (2007:169)

Kress, G (1997) Before writing: rethinking the paths to literacy.

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

The goals of education

The development of ‘concrete-operational skills of technical reason coupled with functional, utilitarian language skill.’ (Jones, 1991)

Two conflicting directions for education

‘The desire to stimulate the growth of autonomous, entrepreneurial, IT-literate, multi-skilled individuals’ or ‘the desire to create a compliant, low-expectation labour force inured to the demands of flexibilisation.’ Conole (2007:171)

Surely this isn’t a case of either or, and surely both ends of the scale can be viewed positively – society needs a community of people working at different jobs to remain viable and coherent. Conole should be quoting Government policy here but prefer to suggest that there is a choice while clearly favouring one over the other.

Prison Officers, we are told, don’t need a university degree; they aren’t the only ones. Unless you want people to endure their necessary jobs like Marvin the Paranoid Android. Adams. (1979)

REF Kress, G (2003) Literacy in the new media age.

REFERENCE

Adams, D (1979) The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

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







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Grayson Perry and Rose Tremain on Creativity

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 26 Oct 2011, 07:45

I meant to share this at the time of the broadcast a month of six weeks ago. Life and an OU TMA got in the way.

Please offer your thoughts and share

These are notes, things I picked out, some reflection on my take on all of this. Perhaps we are like minds? Perhaps not? I'm trying to make sense of it ... I'm not saying I've made sense of it here or in a hundred or more posting on a similar theme that I have made online over the last decade reading the likes of Stephen Pressfield, Norman Mailer and Ben Okri, even David Ogilvy) who amongst many creatives have chosen to share their wisdom with the wider world.

To be successful and creative is a rare thing, it isn't simply a result of luck or talent or endeavour ... a mind might be able to self-regulate and focus once it has found its medium and voice, but just as helpful are those around you who create parameters, who set deadlines, who chase you with a stick or reward you with a carrot.

In this BBC Radio 4 broadcast Grayson Perry explored the myths and misconceptions of creativity.

What does it take?

Like all things, hard work and single-mindedness.

From my point of view I see myself as a Catherine Wheel that has been lit and fallen of its stand - I spit and twist, sending out ideas all over the place. Not the best way forward.

The Myths and Misconceptions were:


  • The Eureka Moment (Spoke to Terry Pratchet)
  • Anyone can do it (Spoke to Rose Tremain)
  • Drugs are good for you. (But not for Satre)
  • A bid mad
  • Britain's got talent (Spoke to Hussein Shelian)
  • Creative Genius
  • Need to have suffered an early trauma (Ray Talis)


We are reminded the 'creativity' is a central part of the UK economy.

For 17 years I actively contributed to this. My wilderness years, the last eight, have resulted in very little output (if that means getting it out of the front door). I stack it. I'd prefer to see these ideas compost and die than give my ideas to the world.

It is essential that creativity has institutional underpinning.

How will this manifest itself with the cuts to arts funding now being proposed by the coalition government in the UK.

or is it necessary. Whilst education in the UK has its faults it nonetheless appears to favour and permit the individual so that talent can develop. This must be the state system, private schools are a sausage machine for exam results, they have to be given what parents are forking out.

'Creativity is mistakes.'

Says Grayson Perry, he has this carved into concrete across the mezzanine floor of his studio. You try, you fail, you try again. I would like to suppose I haven't tried hard enough to fix my failures (or what I perceive as failures). At time though I feel if I keep on trying I would eventually strip back a 90,000 novel to a few words.

Imaginative power is 'looking, looking, looking' to which Rose Tremain added, it is 'listening, listening, listening.'

I'm a looker, so I don't know how I've ended up writing.

You can never be fully relaxed on holiday.

I do, but sailing and skiing do occupy your head if you fall off cliffs and like to race dinghies. Moments of near-death are exhilarating, as those times the elements sweep you along.

I hate the computer as a writing tool, this facility to edit does me no favours. yet a writer Grayson interviews said the computer allowed him to write, that until then he had no way to start straight in with a few thoughts, some scenes (like episodes in a film), and assemble it all in a non-linear way.

I've worked so hard with programmes like Power Structure and Final Draft but somehow always tie myself in knots trying to add or remove a character or scene or changing the ending or beginning.

'Letting go at the end - that's as good as it will get.' Says Rose Tremain.

A year of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and my last session was driving me to 'finish something.' I can, but there needs to be someone with a stick harrying me along, a reward at the end would help, reassuring words along the way too ...

My notes here (a month or so after the broadcast) say something about 'investigating in a way that is new and aiding their creativity by giving them love and boundaries.'

I would run with a lover, with the intensity of an unfulfilled affair. Something to make the heart race. I once spent a day drawing a girl I lusted for ... she was happy to be naked for me. I compelled myself into a state of denial without able to control my arousal. It all went into the drawing, the excited, confident marks across the page.

What about the University of East Anglia Creative Writing Course?

I've locked at the details and would be applying for 2011. Don't have the money. Anyone want to sponsor me? In return for a percentage of the royalties that would of course come about a year or two later?

Pretty please?

Or the MA in Fine Art at Sussex University?

'A life's work without any expectation of reward.'

My wife caught this line and said that was me. She should know, she's not had much out of me these last eight years. The novels I promised to write were written, but are considerably short of an edit I would send out. I would need to shut myself away from everything for 12 weeks.

Do you have somewhere I could hide?

Exam conditions six to nine hours a day, seven days a week. Not any man made disturbance - nature I can tolerate, nature I love. A hermitage on Farnes island would do, a ski lodge up a mountain pre-Season. somewhere. An empty barn, drained swimming pool, decommissioned nuclear power station.

Impulsive ideas that I run with:


  • A chess set made out of branded bottles of water.
  • Every ski run in the Ski Resorts of Val d'Isere and Tignes reconstructed as transects showing their true length and fall.
  • A short film about watersprites living in a public swimming pool
  • Story ideas galore for TV series or film.
  • A 6ft canvass of Lewes Castle in the snow from a series of photographs that could have been taken 800 years ago.

'When you are creating something you are drawing on so many parts of the brain.'

This was in response to someone with an MRI scan who claims to have identified creativity. It doesn't work like that, indeed, the creative mind goes more slowly ... it takes it times over these connections. It thinks, how else could it ever deliver anything original?

So when yo relax, you let go, that is when you have your great ideas. I resolved the ending to a story I haven't touched for three years on a dog walk so long I found worried messages on the mobile phone I had left in the car. My mobile is rarely on.

'The distressful bread of the day to day.' Said Rose Tremain.

Did I get that right?

Grayson Perry talked about his Inner Shed.

I have my inner shed, what I need is a 'room of my own.' It's hard to be creative perched on the end of the marital bed in a tiny room that is stacked to the ceiling with possessions that call for occupancy of a house twice the size.

Fretting over the non-blog affordances of the OU Blogging environment I have moved to EduBlogs where you will find me under 'Mymindbursts.'

Should institutions such as the OU ditch their own platforms and assemble the best off the shelf offerings in one place? What this environment lacks is personalisation, as well as stats, friends, freedom to add apps and plug-ins and all the rest of it.

This is a De Dion Bouton in the age of the E-type Jag.

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