## Is this a blog?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 28 Jan 2012, 15:16

I think not.

You can keep it private, or share it with the OU community or the wider world, but you can't personalise it.

Nor do you get to keep it afterwards.

Perhaps the OU should offer a blogging platform along the lines of EduBlog or WordPress and treat it as a worthwhile piece of PR, marketing and goodwill.

Afterall, why encourage people to blog for the first time and quickly lose them to another platform?

So what is this?

I don't mean for this to sound derogatory, but dwelling on this through the night, as you do (it is 02.53), I liken this to writing on a piece of loo roll. OK, it lasts a little longer (two years) and can be re-ussed.

Well, I won't stretch that analogy any further.

Scroll is the world I am looking for.

Like a papyrus scroll from Egypt 4000 years ago. Slung up over a line for all to see (or not).

Not a blog though.

Few, if anyone, posts an entry every day, as you would in a journal. Even if you go down the private route, it doesn't feel private, somewhere to disclose private thoughts, health, financial, family and political problems and views.

A learning journal? Part of the e-portfolio package? For reflection.

Yet again, if I am holding up a mirror to consider my experiences this public arena is surely NOT the place to do it?

Somewhere to paste stuff that is over 500 words long ... somewhere to link extended musings when you approach the 500 word mark in a Forum?

Some think 200 words in a Forum is about right.

So how many words for a blog entry?

Blogging mates from a decade ago struck on 1,000 words per entry. We also ran with the idea that is must all spew forth in one go. So in some respects perhaps my lavatorial analogy was the correct one.

I know exactly how you academics and intellectuals and non-obsessive journalers view this kind of thing.

How many characters in Twitter? I forget.

Perhaps the OU should set some parameters in forums and Blogs, as it does for assignments and limit us to 300 words in a forum entry and 600 here?

Or not.

Parameters serve a useful purpose. Give a sculptor a mountain and look what they do. Give me a e-scroll and look what I do.

Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Mon Lang, Sunday, 1 Aug 2010, 09:23)
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## Migration!

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All of this is going to Edublogs or Wordpress or Diaryland ... or all three. See you there.
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## New blog post

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 13 Jul 2010, 20:40

Having bought into the OU Blog and contributing to 'IT' for the last 22 weeks to have no access for .... 12 hours ... is like having a lobotmy.

I'm not saying that a soul even reads this kind of entry but I've been rampaging through every rerference and lead like a forensic scientist these last few days eager get to the point, where I get the point that our esteemed OU author reached.

One worrying insight ... I find I can too often get to a reference more quickly directly through Google, than limping through the OU Library service search thingey ... and the glitches and hurdles that some providers present to you.

On the other hand, the OU Access sign is always encouraging.

Downtime July, August?

Different time.

This morning I had tow ancient mercury fillings removed while I discussed online tutoring with my dentist. Who is a Kings College, London Prof ... who takes online causes in dentistry once a quarter ... with students around the world.

He hates it.

Why?

The students know it is recorded, so don't turn up. It isn't a lecture, it is a tutorial. There may be 8 or more students, but only two interact and the only times we get some kind of dialoge it will be because a dentist in Isreal finds he is meant to share insight on tooth decay with a fellow dentist in Iran.

Yes. I agree. Debate engenders discussion, while cosy, feely goody-goody panders to the lazy lurkers.

Why is the Oxford Union Debating Society thriving?

How come they had a debate here recently on the future of E-learning!

Debate works, difference works ...

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## What's wrong with Educational Social Networking? (EDU)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 18 Jun 2012, 01:04

Isn’t ‘re-invention’ the word? (Rogers, P114 & P115, 2002)

Not wholesale repurposing, but as Rogers puts it 'It should be acknowledged that rejection, discontinuance and re-invention frequently occur during the diffusion of an innovation and that such behaviour may be rational and appropriate from the individual's point of view.' (Rogers, p114 2002)

I wonder how my experience might have been with a group of colleagues or friends, signing up together ... but might this too ‘spoil the party.’ And how over a longer period fellow students would be emailing and messaging and getting on the phone ... let alone meeting up.

This fascinates me primarily because I am convinced that collaboration, sharing, discussion and so on is crucial to a deeper learning outcome. But does this not have to be down to the drive of the individual and permitted by the institution they belong to?

How much motivation can others really offer or be expected to offer?

If neither a carrot or stick will work with adult learners, especially in a online environment, then what do you do? ‘You can take a horse to the trough, but you can’t make it drink.’ As I’m about to take a course on the Psychology of Sport as a Senior Swimming Coach I may gain some further insights into waht motivates people to do something and how outsiders can influence this in a positive way.

And just because we’re invited to drink from this trough once, dos not mean we will do it again, or often or with enthusiasm. Our moods will wax and wane, or commitments beyond the course will impinge.

Deep learning, as I’ve learnt, benefits from, even requires a rapport with one or several others at various levels of understanding – a Subject Matter Expert (SME) or experts, a tutor, a couple of fellow students on the course, and perhaps someone more junior who can be in turn mentored or tutored by us (first years being buddied by a second year, a post-grad student supervising a fresher).

How much this mix can be set by what little the OU or other Distance Learning Provider knows about an individual is quite another matter.

Do you run a call-centre like team of facilitators/moderators ... or aspire to the one-to-one relationship of tutor or governess to student mimicking some land-owning/aristocratic model of the distant past? Where is or how can that rapport that can work between student and tutor be recreated here? Or is this something for a DPhil?

A free-for-all would create imbalances, inevitably ... for the institution. But whose experience are we prioritising here?

Whilst a balance must be found, if the best outcomes are to give tutors and SMEs much more time online to forge relationships then this should be - a good coach attracts the best athletes and attracts the interest of other coaches. How does she do that? (Expertise, training and personality ... enthusiasm, putting the athlete at the centre of things)

Perhaps by pursuing ‘educational social networking’ institutions are shooting themselves in the financial foot?

The time put in to make a freer networking between students, tutors and SMEs, with students in different time zones and different priorities would be prohibitive. Undergraduates studying on campus, in a homophilous cohort, with fewer worries (other than debt) don’t know how fortunate they are to have this opportunity to study, probably for the only time, before the life of the wider world impinges.

Are Personal Learning Environment (PLE) a way or the way forward?

If I have this concept right, i.e. with the formal relationships and tutor relationship given equal potential, the tools in one place on the same homepage is a suitable progression from the VLE) Perhaps OU students are doing this anyway by starting at their own Blog or Home Page and simply anchoring the pages from the OU that matter most to them?

The New Scientist is running an interesting essay in its current edition which touches on all of this.

New Scientist (week 10th July 2010) has a piece called 'Generation F' by Richard Fisher (2010).

* 400 million worldwide ... on social networking sites.
* The importance of weak ties as well as close ones.
* The time it takes to forge 'reliable and trustworthy' ties.
* The value of 'acquaintances' to provide relevant and trustworthy news/information.

The article is prone to the some hyperbole:

Social networking sites (Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace) the 'harbingers of a sea change in our social evolution, in the same way that the arrival of language informed our ancestors.' (Donarth, 2009)

Danah Boyd (2009) describes Facebook as ‘an essential utility like water or electricity.’

Academics are just as guilty of this kind of thing, there’s been plenty of it in the reading for H807 the democratising of education, ‘starting the world anew’ ala Tom Paine etc: and claims made in the last ten/twenty years regarding ICT and education, what it could do, will do ... but hasn’t.

The essay is of value though for how, and if, social networking can be used short-term purposes:

'Online social networking appears to be 'very good for servicing relationships, but not for building them de novo.' (Dunbar, 2010)

H807 tries to use an ‘educational social networking’ approach, or does it. Perhaps it is deliberately more self-contained than this. Though with emphasis on authors such as Salmon (2002) and her model for e-tivities, undue emphasis is put on getting people talking and working together? Is that so necessary.

Isn’t experience showing that this is wishful thinking?

The OU must have research on this. Why do more people quit a an online distance learning course (20-50%) compared to a traditional distance learning course? What are the views on conversations, synchronous or asynchronous between fellow students and students in the wide OU community and tutors?

At various times, the ‘weakest links’ to fellow OU students through the OU blog has produced some useful support and insights for H807, yet engagement through our own Cafe/General Forum can surely only be described as minimal?

Whilst deeper learning experiences do come from sharing (like this), it isn’t happening to the degree the OU would like?

Collaboration between some random people I may meet at the bus stop when the service is delayed is not the same as forging an academic bond with some one or some many who are equally engaged with the material, whether their opinions are the antithesis of mine would be immaterial – indeed, disagreement would be better, it feeds discussion. This is NOT a criticism of H807, we have a common purpose, we have elected to do H807, there is a common profile intellectually and absolutely the variety of life experiences enriches the experience. But clearly, as individuals, our approaches to learning, IT skills, time allocated to the task and for many other reasons will and does negate against certain ways of learning. Such as this.

If on the one hand the wishes of some students, maybe most, to stay at arms length aren’t the wishes or hopes of others who would like to engage with a wider circle being denied?

The sought of relationships between students that the OU is hoping for can surely only developed over a few years rather than a few months.

Jeff Hancock (2008) of Cornell University '... found that those with Facebook access asked questions to which they already knew the answers or raised things they had in common, and as a result were much more successful at winning people over.' (New Scientist, 10July2010).

We experienced the ease with which we could share personal information, there was no drilling or phfishing for information, but clearly I will know more about some people than others. It relevance is another matter, the buy-in to these people could eventually result in a bond of sorts, at least as working on this platform is concerned. I would have to look back through the way we respond to each other to see if the above occurred ... deliberately asking certain people certain things even though we knew the answer, as a catalyst to conversation. This does not work discussing trivia such as pets and the weather (though I’ve indulged in plenty of that too ... it doesn’t lead to conversations on costing programming, what Vygotsky means about scaffolding or whether we are fed up with e-tivities, e-granaries, e-moderators ... and e-jobs.

Mid-way through the unit we read Elliot (2008) and I took an interest in the way 'lifelong learning' functions.

I was looking at this as an adult learner environment, the merging of social, family and work through social networking sites and the communication habits and styles of all three merging into and becoming a messed up single entity. Historically it wasn't long ago that work, family and social words were one ... fifty years ago, seventy or a hundred years? No more.

Both of these points, revealing more and the merging, or coalescent, or the dropping of barriers between these spheres is changing behaviours.

'Increased visibility also means our various social spheres - family, work and friends- are merging and so we will have to prepare for new societal norms. 'Well have to learn how to live a more transparent life.' (Holtzman, 2009)

The idea of 'Exposure' was used be Ellen Levy in 1999 (Levy, 1999) after she had spent a year keeping a blog and photojournal, then a novel activity. (Washington Post, 24th September, 1999).

What an employer, parent, friends or colleagues make of this is another matter, but then again, one day we’ll all be walking around with our DNA profile on a dog-tag (or embedded under our skin on a microchip).

The relevance of all of this?

How far can the individual be indulged within the parameters of an online course, that must retain students and prove its worth to the institution (financial, academic, members), the students (worth it financially, academically, career wise ... and personally) ... and the wider community (grants, knowledgeable workforce, content and informed citizens)

Je suis comme je suis
Je suis faite comme ça

(Jacques Prevert, 1946)

I am what I am, I was made this way.
....

REFERENCE

Donath, J. New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. www.newscientist.com, p40. From Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, vol.13, p 231)

Dunbar, R. (2009) How many friends does one person need? Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at the University of Oxford. Quoted in New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. www.newscientist.com.

Elliott, B. (2008) Assessment 2.0: Modernising Assessment in the Age of Web 2.0 [online], Scottish Qualifications Authority; available from http://www.scribd.com/doc/461041/Assessment-20 (Accessed 1 February 2010).

Ellison, N (2007) The Benefits of Facebook "Friends:" Social Capital and College Students' Use of Online Social Network Sites
Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication
Volume 12, Issue 4, Date: July 2007, Pages: 1143-1168
Nicole B. Ellison, Charles Steinfield, Cliff Lampe. (Accessed 11 July 2010) Quoted in New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. www.newscientist.com.

Fisher, R (2010) New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. www.newscientist.com

Granoveter, M, S. (1973) The Strength of Weak Ties. The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 78, No. 6 (May, 1973), pp. 1360-1380 http://www.jstor.org.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/action/exportSingleCitation?singleCitation=true&suffix=2776392
(Accessed 11 July 2010)
Quoted in New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. www.newscientist.com. The University of Chicago Press.

Golbeck, J (2010) Quoted in New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. www.newscientist.com.

Hancock, J. (2008) I know something you don't: the use of asymmetric personal information for interpersonal advantage
Jeffrey T. Hancock, Catalina L. Toma, Kate Fenner. Quoted in New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. www.newscientist.com. (Accessed 11 July 2010)

Holtzman, H (2010) Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Quoted in New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. www.newscientist.com

Kearns, M. (2009) Behavioral experiments on biased voting in networks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol 106, p1347) http://www.pnas.org.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/content/106/5/1347.full.pdf+html (Accessed 11 July 2010) Quoted in New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. www.newscientist.com.

Levy, E. (1999) Featured in article in the Washinton Post, 24 September 2010. See more at http://businessinnovationfactory.com/iss/innovators/ellen-levy
(accessed 11 July 2010)

Prevert, J, (146) Paroles.

Pentland, S (2010) Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Quoted in New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. www.newscientist.com

Rogers, E.M. (2003) Diffusion of Innovations (5th edn), New York, Simon and Schuster.

Salmon, E (2002) E-tivities the key to online learning. Kogan Page.

Tom Tong, S (2008) Too Much of a Good Thing? The Relationship Between Number of Friends and Interpersonal Impressions on Facebook. Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, vol13 p531-549)

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## Trigeminal Neuralogia? Hemicentrium something or other. Or as the school called it "Fakeritis.'

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This rings painfully true to my own experience. I have on three occasions age 17, age 41 and now age 48 gone through a two year loop to specialists trying to identify, categorise and medicate pain in the left side of my head/face ... body.

These things are always complex, but having finally got answers that make sense the pain is a touch easier to deal with.

At one stage it was seriously suggested that a new syndrome would be named after me!

Actuall it is complex, though it can be reduced to four interactions:

1) Asthmatic. I have to take inhaler steriods into my lungs and aerosol steriods into my nose twice a day. I am happiest on oral steriods but this isn't permitted long term i.e. too often the above doesn't function ... so a reaction results, painful swellling of the soft membranes of my sinuses = pain.

2) Allergy to housemite feaces. I.e. yes I should sleep in a tent in the garden and sleeping in or next to the bath also makes sense. I was born to sleep on wooden floorboards, ideal several centuries ago! And this is a major, major allergy ... when tested my skin comes up in a nasty rash/burn sting. I ought to be at sea, or live by the sea ... probably on a remote island such as St.Kilda. Or up a mountain. I have twice worked a season at 2000m + in the Alps and never had a problem, but then again, if I could ski for an hour or two every day I'd never complain about anything.

3) Food intollerance. Some foods, though not allergic to anything, cause mischief, triggering pain that can vary on a scale of 1 (irritating) to a migraine, bed, close the curtains. I tend to keep away from chocolate and mushrooms!

4) At the age of 6 or 7 I jumped out of a moving bus and hit the bus stop! This didn't break my nose but crushed some bones near the base of my nose which means, as my GP put it, 'You're like a Ferrari driving on an exhaust from a 2CV!'. As a former athlete (swimming) my lungs were forcing air through a blocked pipe ...

Surgery is the next step, though, unless there is an infection involved, I've learnt to tolerate the thing. But I absoultely must take the medication and ensure that all the bottles/inhalers are full. If I run out and panic my local GP and pharmacist have yet to fail to come up with the drugs they know I need within a few hours.

If this is totally irrelevant to your case my apologies, but I go through what I variously describe as:

• a rusty fork stuck in my face
• hit by a brick
• bottled
• hit in the face by a golf ball
• hit in the face by a book
• nettle stings around the skull
• a wasp in my nose
• a bruised lung

Yep, I've gone on ... as much a reminder to me of what I need to keep on top off. I ran out of everything a few days ago and felt miseable ... I

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## ECA H807 DONE

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And having just pledged to stop doing this, perhaps I will. I have other existences online that may be calling out for attention.
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## ECA Deadline 16 hours away

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 10:04

Parts 1 & 2 v.good. I like the writing style. vs Reflection seems a bit of a rant (My wife, 2010, this afternoon)

Me rant! Whenever?

OK.

This is the most tender exchange my wife and I have had in two years. She lives in another room in the house, rarely to leave, where at great expense to the pharmaceutical community she turns interviews with medical experts (in French and English) into multipage, overly quoted, qualitative reports which make an OU ECA look like a kindergarten doodle.

(A decade into this she is a better pharmacist and GP than our local ... pharmacist or GP. She has vetted and reviewed everything well ahead of it being issued. Which may explain why I have yet to die from asthma. I'm always pumped up with the latest best thing(s)

In an hour I'm poolside coaching Britian's future Olympian swimmers for the next few hours (think Rio in 2016 and beyond, some of them have only just turned 9).

I have a mindmap - hideous term, hateful concept, but when I've done one for a TMA and stuck to it the (bleep, bleep, bleep) things seem to provide structure for my unstructured way of thinking.

800 words of reflection.

Could I say it four ?

'Been there, done that?'

or a few more ...

'Been there, done that, enjoyed the learning journey, up for more.'

Not really worth 20% of the marks.

Meanwhile an eventful day in other ways, prioritise as you see fit:

A statue of Tom Paine was revealed in Lewes (where we live). It is July 4th. He had something to do with the 'Rights of Man.' (Or the rights of one man, him ...) as he was pissing off everyone in Sussex when he jumped ship to the Americas.

I found four baby guinea-pigs in the hutch that has been my responsibility to clean out for the last decade. Daughter just 14 couldn't give a monkeys, though 'til two years ago she adored them. I have called them: 'E,' 'C,' & 'A,' and 'H807.' As the children are finally beyond naming them. Though my son, now 12, did call them 'bite-sized.' Our dog, who has come to replace the G-Ps in our affections, is tender ... she was introduced to guinea-pigs as puppy and just about understands that they are neither small tennis balls or food. We have had some wonderful adventures with out pigs these last ... 12 years.

We haven't had rain for 17 years (or is that days, or weeks) so I felt I had to water the garden. This is having had rain from October 13th 2009 to March 11th without a break).

The papers are declaring it the worst lack of rain in the the first six months of a year since ... well, since the last time this happened in 1992, 1998 and 1976. I have been attempting to syphon water out of the bath into the garden as I did in 1976 age 13 ... and face the same problem. Gagging as the stuff reaches my mouth and finding the lip over the windowsill is impossible to overcome. Do I buy a pump?

What next?

My brain is yours for £ and . Oh, and a nine year old headache from my late father's estate that suggests I may be taken to court in France. The joke is the letter was sent by recorded delivery that requires a signature is unintelligible to our Postie so he just put it through our letter box. My wife suggests we could (and should) ignore it. Why when I write to France I do so in French ... while the French when they write to English speaking countries do so ... in French? Anything else? Not for now 800 words is probably harder to write than 2,000. And what is reflection anyhow? Not a rant, not 'stream of consciouness.' An essay? A grovel for marks. Your choice. But no one reads these things anyway. Lurkers please say 'Hi'. Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Paula Roberts, Sunday, 4 Jul 2010, 17:24) Share post ## OpenLearn Research Report 2006-2009 Visible to anyone in the world Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 18 Jun 2012, 00:57 This report is highly worthwhile - an insightful guide to distance and online learning, through e-learning to current best practice and what we might come to expect. Some surprises here: Whatever the web may afford in relation to social networking, do distance learners want this level of interaction ? Apparently not. Despite what the web offers in terms of content, would students be better off sticking with what is offered to them instead of getting distracted? Probably. It’s less distracting, and no doubt of a higher quality and relevance. (Makes marking easier too as their is some chance your tutor has read it too). Open Research Online This 63 page report is a gem and offers some insights across distance and e-learning from some of the leading OU practioners and thinkers. Some notes, verbatim: The value of Open Learning Free access to re-mixed OU courses is not only providing tens of thousands of users with a valuable resource, and step into a formal OU course, but is a lab for research, experimentation and design in the Web 2.0 World. A shift towards Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) Open Research Online offers an extraordinarily insightful chronology and pedagogical reasoning for 'free' online learning which indicates the degree of shift, or substantial fraying of the edges of traditional approaches through a wide variety of tools and their multiple affordances that make learning student-centred, and hopefully engaging, and effective. Distance Learning no longer needs to be such a solitary affair 'Online learning is often undertaken by an individual in their home or place of work in physical isolation from others studying the same material. Social software that allows these individuals to come together with other learners can play a vital role towards the achievement of the desired learning outcomes.' (p. 25 McAndrew et al, 2009) Ditch (or repurpose/re-invent, remix text in favour of hat" Podcasts and YouTube? 'Materials on the web should (ideally in many people's views) utilise the capabilities of the web and how people use it. Thus it was (and still is) believed there should be fewer words, more graphics and much more dynamism or interactivity in a highly structured, more resource-based style of pedagogy when authoring courses for the web.' (p. 29 McAndrew et al, 2009) Content over interaction ... so much for the rise of 'Educational Social Networking.' 'A large choice of content is considered the most important feature of Open Learn and that interacting with other learners is low in this list.' (p. 39 McAndrew et al, 2009) How easily are you distracted by what the web offers, pushes and invites? 'The Internet is not necessarily Utopian and the support that formal structures offer should not be dismissed too easily. A competition for attention means that users can be distracted from their intended purpose and that chance encounters with information may be an unsatisfactory solution in comparison with targeted offerings that constrain and direct interests towards specific goals.' (p. 4 McAndrew et al, 2009) REFERENCE McAndrew, P; Santos, A; Lane, A.; Godwin, S.; Okada, A.; Wilson, T.; Connolly, T.; Ferreira, G., Buckingham Shum, S.; Bretts, J and Webb, R (2009) OpenLearn Research Report 2006-2008. The Open University, Milton Keynes, England. Share post ## H808 Approaching ECA Visible to anyone in the world Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 16:03 Feeling that I have a gap in relation to learning pedagogy and wishing to read some articles that are more 2010 that 2000 ... I have picked out 14 fresh articles to read. Invaluable Prensky and his 'Digital Natives' can be dropped - nothing in practice proves the point. It has nothing to do with when we were born, and everything to do with our desire to engage with and exposure to the technology ... oh, and income, eduation, age, opportunity ... the usual criteria. My 85 year old Father-in-law has had a Mac since ... since they existed. He continues to run postgraduate courses between two countries ... and hasn't had a P.A. for 15 years. He is more comfortable with current ICT than some teenagers ... why? Because he is goal-orientated. The technology is simply a set of tools, a means to an end. Personally I'm running with the view that there is no such thing as 'e-learning,' just 'learning.' After all, the models of learning that I need are based on print, lectures, classrooms and tutorials. How often is 'e' justified? Does it work to its strengths? Is is inclusive or exclusive ... just part of the mix or re-mix? And might I hear from some practioners, rather than researchers? i.e. those who put it into practice? Not just from HE. Try presenting an OU styled E-tivity plan to a client. Learn what their issues and expetations are? Try using the word (if it is one) 'E-tivity' for a start. Keen on innovation, ready to be sold, want the bottom line, to be convinced that it will deliver and that results are measurable. An please, don't quote, cite or reference anyone. And don't use the term 'e-learning' either. Not interested. It is 'learning stuff' online ... or online learning, with computers and IT. Why the great divide between theory and practice? Between universities and the people who employ your students? Should not employers be telling universities what they expect, want and understand, rather than the other way round. Concentrate on outcomes. Identifying and fixing problems. Multi-mode. Why go the 'e-learning' route for £60k when you can solve the problem for £15k in print. Why don't we go there? The needs should dictate the proposed solutions, not the course, or tools ... and their affordances. As if these new comers operate in isolation. Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 Jul 2010, 11:57) Share post ## I've learnt something! Visible to anyone in the world You'd hope after 19 weeks! TMA01 the first draft of this 3000 word report was somewhere around 12000 words, too over 20 draft to cut down and looked dreadful in what might have been the final version. Then I started again, off the top of my head, as if writing under exam conditions. Success after much pain. TMA02 the first draft was around 8000 words. Adopting the same process of putting everything in, then precising, prioritising, was still the approach. i.e. why use one quote when six will do Before submitting I felt there was a misalignment between the question and what I had written. Trying to weave a tapestry to someone else's design isn't my style. Six re-writes to the final version. Happy. TMA03 got me to the stage where I thought I was writing like an academic - I had nailed an 80% score on a thoroughly researched, well researched and justified piece. It needed a day or two to subtle, and someone else's eyes to point out that I had forked away from the question in the second part. Unspotted, the TMA went in. Disaster. From my perspective. And major disillusionment. In the 'real world' this doesn't happen because you are working with colleagues and collectively you are far more likely to stay on brief. ECA. Still to complete, but the huge suprise was when I broke it into three parts having assembled it over the last month or so ... I came in several hundred words UNDER the required word count. i.e. I am now building something, rather than taking away. Perhaps I should adopt the Graham Greene approach to writing. 500 carefully chosen words a day, rather than my preferred approach of the last decade, which is, as here, to write a stream of consciousness, at a jog, never looking back, except to spellcheck. Share post ## Piper Alpha - Disaster on an oil and gas platform in the North Sea, July 1988 Visible to anyone in the world Piper Alpha - Disaster on an oil and gas platform in the North Sea, July 1988 Background / What Happened A series of explosions and an oil fed fire on the Piper Alpha oil and gas platform in the North Sea on 6th July 1988, 120 miles Northeast of Aberdeen, killed 167 men. (Wikipedia, 2010) Also see the moving BBC Documentary of 1989 'Spiral into Disaster. An avoidable gas leak, followed by an explosion, that compromised other safety measures led to further cataclysmic and fatal explosions, which were compounded by a sequence of failures in safety procedures that weren't suitably 'joined-up' or authorised at a junior level. The explosions and following fire led to the death of 167 men, the loss of one rig and the closure of two others. Lessons learnt should have resulted in a permanent shift in health & safety procedures in the oil & gas industries; events in the Gulf of Mexico would suggest otherwise Oil production stared in 1976 on Piper Alpha with about 250,000 barrels of oil per day produced, increasing to 300,000 barrels. In 1980 the rig was converted to gas recovery ... wherein lies one of the causes of the disaster. Poor repurposing where safety was compromised. The Piper Alpha platform comprised four modules which were initially separated by firewalls with the most dangerous operations distant from the personnel areas. The firewalls were 'firewalls' only - they were not designed to withstand gas explosions. When the rig was converted to gas some dangerous operations ended up being placed close to one of the command 'module.' Because the platform was completely destroyed in the explosion and fire of July 6, 1988 and so many died, the chain of events leading to the disaster can only be suggested. (Wikipedia, 2010). It reads like the run up to the sinking of the Titanic, a series of minor errors of communication and procedures comprising more series failings meaning that a single event quickly results in a cascade of other, often cataclysmic failures. The were two pumps, A & B. The pressure safety valve on Pump A was removed for routine maintenance and replaced with disc of metal (a blind flange) with instructions that this pump must not be switched on under any circumstances. The work on maintaining the pressure safety valve was not completed when the next shift came on at 6.00pm and poor communication (failure of communication of something so important as 'DO NOT operate Pump A' failed to get through to the duty custodian. This would have not been a problem, and perhaps this situation had arisen before, but because chance would have it that Pump B lost pressure the need to operate Pump A arose. Not finding any communication to say otherwise, indeed, confusingly finding a docket that said the Pump was due for shut down for some other maintenance reason shortly, it was assumed to be OK. Fatal. When pump B stopped suddenly the Manager had only a few minutes to bring Pump A back online, otherwise the power supply for the offshore construction work that these pumps supplied would be compromised. Not being aware that there was no safety valve on Pump A and that it had been replaced temporarily with a disc of round metal across the pipe, when it came online, overpressure caused this loosely fitted disc to give way. Although six gas alarms were triggered the gas ignited before anyone could act. Further compromises in the safety system facilitated further explosions resulting in the gas line melting which released 15-30 tonnes of gas every second into the fire ... which was soon being fed by oil from two separate rigs that shared a communal oil pipe. The accommodation module where most of the men who were killed were sheltering, collapsed into the North Sea Main Causes 106 safety recommendations were made coming out of Cullen enquiry which suggests there were almost as many causes for the disaster. Occidental had a superficial attitude to safety the enquiry states. ‘I wouldn’t put it above or below other disasters. There’s an awful sameness about these incidents. They are nearly always characterised by lack of forethought and lack of analysis and down to poor management. It’s not just due to one particular person not following a procedure or doing something wrong. You always come back to the fact that things are sloppy, and ill-organised and unsystematic right from the top of the company downwards.’ Dr Tony Barrell, Former Chief Exectuvie North Sea Safety I see it as a domino cascade in which each domino is twice the size of the one before ... the first domino is nothing more than a piece of paper not getting into the hands of the person who mattered, with the last domino being the collapse of the accommodation module into the sea. The BBC docu-drama on the subject was titled ‘Spiral into Disaster.’ There was an interesting interview with the former Chief Executive of North Sea Safety. There are many contributing factors. There was or can be ... and there was in this case, ‘a conflict between production and safety.’ Dr Tony Barrell, Former Chief Exectuvie North Sea Safety Occidental new from a report published the previous year that there was potential for a high pressure gas explosion of such magnitude that it would be unstoppable. * Pressure valve Pump A removed, this procedure poorly communicate to those who mattered. * A second docket had been approved to take Pump A out for two weeks for routine maintenance. Failure to link these two permits proved disastrous. * Replaced with ill fitting/unsuitable metal disc. * Change of shift further compromising the failure in communication. * Failure to ensure the new shift manager understood the state of Pump A 'because he was busy.' * Simply put, the ‘procedures collapsed.’ * Loss of pressure in Pump B. It repeatedly failed to start risking the drill in operation getting stuck and all kinds of financial compromises and problems this leading to the necessity of calling in Pump A – which would not have happened had the docket saying it MUST NOT be started been seen. * The pressure of gas once pump A came on was so great that it leaked passed the temporary metal plate. * The safety valve that had been removed was sighted 15ft up and out of sight – otherwise someone may have noticed that this vital piece of equipment was missing. * The first explosion * Compromised by * a) 1 of 2 parts of the automated fire fighting ‘deluge’ system on manual as for 12 hours of the day divers were in the water. (If activated the system would have possibly sucked them into the water drenching system). It was switched over regardless of where divers were working – on other rigs it would be isolated only where the divers were working, and only when they were in the water – not for longer, indiscriminate periods. * b) proximity of a dangerous appliance to the command module (a failure in rig design when it was repurposed from oil to gas in 1980) * c) modules not built to resist gas explosion, but only fire. * Two men attempted to reach the deluge system to activate it. They left the accommodation block risking their lives ... and were never seen again. * oil was being fed from two nearby rigs into a communal pipe. Due to loss of pressure on Piper Alpha this oil was drawn INTO the fire, feeding the flames which instigated such a powerful explosion that is engulfed the accommodation block and killed two rescue workers in a craft at the rig's base. * riggers on these other two platforms felt they had no authority to shut off the oil that was evidently feeding the flames that were nearly 100m high. This delay because they felt inhabited from acting without the OK from senior managers who were hard to contact (on land) ... sounds like junior officers being unable to take the initiative from their generals in the First World War! * Flames and smoke were being blown across the heli-deck preventing any rescue from here. * Whilst fortuitous that the Occidental fire fighting vessel Tharos was at Piper Alphas it had to compromise on the powerful water cannons a) which were started to fast, jammed and had to be restarted over a ten minute period and b) they could put into operation as being hit by this powerful shot of water would kill a person c) the bridging crane would take an hour to extend to the platform ... when the next huge explosion occurred release 3 tonnes of gas per second, the Tharos had to retreat. Those from the accommodation block who survived had ignored what little safety training they had been given, made their way under the rig and eventually jumped the ten storeys into the North Sea – some survived this, not all. Main Effects Short Term * 167 men killed. * 167 grieving families and funerals. * A memorial statue in an Aberdeen Park. * An enquiry. * New safety procedures adopted. * Responsibility for safety on the rigs taken from the Department of Energy and put into to the Department of Health & Safety. The Cullen enquiry concluded that the initial condensate gas leak was the result of maintenance work being carried out simultaneously on a pump and related safety valve. The second phase of enquiry made 106 recommendations for changes to North Sea Safety procedures, all of which were accepted by the industry (though you wonder what BP have been doing the last decade) Occidental sank the remains of the Piper Alpha rig a year after the disaster and sold its interests in North Sea oil & gas exploitation. Main Effects Long Term Health & Safety measures and standards improved ... across the industry? Billions spent on redesigning and improving the North Sea platforms. And all offshore platforms? Putting in seabed shut off valves. Lifeboats brought under the accommodation blocks ‘So much has been learnt from it, at least future events will have been prevented.’ Dr Tony Barrell, Former Chief Exectuvie North Sea Safety (Until 2010) There are typically 10 gas escapes of the type they initiated the disaster on Piper Alpha a year ... it’s taken 22 years for another disaster on the scale of Piper Alpha to occur again. Creation a the Piper Alpha Package .. . yours for595. Obviously a price BPs' training and/or heath & safety department haven't been willing to play.

Health & Safety

'Important to think the unthinkable.' Dr Tony Barrell, Former Chief Exectuvie North Sea Safety

Not inclined to spend a lot of money on things that are considered extremely unlikely ever to occur.

Local Impacts

Any oil on the North East coast? Not aware of any

(Though as a child enjoying these beaches in the 60s there were patches of oil washed ashore from time to time that killed birds and threatened the bird sanctuaries and grey seal of the Farnes Islands).

Minimal. The North Sea Oil & Gas continued to thrive as long as there was/is oil and gas to retrieve and a market for it.

A number of men from Aberdeen and Oban involved in the rescue attempts receiving the George Medal for bravery.

A play 'Lest we forget' recalling the events of the disaster being performed on the 20th anniversary.

Global Impacts

The oil industry has had to pump more into health and safety .... more than it and its shareholders would have liked?

BP has set \$20bn aside to alleviated the impact on the Gulf Coast. How will other oil companies behave? How will the insurance industry respond?

Substantial sums will now be set aside to alleviate future potential environmental impacts.
Offshore oil exploration has had a set back.

Will this see more emphasis going into nuclear ?

Things that have changed as a result of that event

Not enough, evidently.

As above, in theory 106 changes in practice.

• Better Health & Safety.
• Fewer tragedies of this magnitude.
• Shareholders don't get a dividend.
• The BP CEO might find he's dipping into his £10.8m pension pot earlier than planned.

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## Patterns, designs and activities: unifying descriptions of learning structures’

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 08:49

McAndrew, Goodyear, Dalziel

• Learning patterns
• Learning design
• Learning activities

'The use of online and electronic systems to support learning - e-learning - is emerging as a field with new opportunities and problems.'

In advertising, marketing and corporate communications, the standard 'Creative Brief' used to inform and direct the creative team poses two initial questions, the answers to which focus the creative effort:

What is the problem?

What is the opportunity?

It is therefore refreshing and reassuring to find the same terms being used in relaton to the 'emerging field' of e-learning. i.e. it is a tool, a way of doing things that may be used to address a clearly defined problem ... and in addressing this issues opportunities are created. The first enables the second, the second motivates ambition beyond the original problem.

Patterns, designs and activities are transferable, and therefore reproducible as digital objects (learning objects, etc

• Personalisation
• Large scale digital repositories
• Flexible reuse
• Knowledge economy

Learning Object 'any entity, digital or non-digital, that can be sed, re-used, or referenced during technology-supported learning.'

• learning
• or
• training

(Unsure how to differentate the two. Learning at a uni, training at a poly? Learning in school , FE, HE & Uni ... training at work?)

'In pratice, works in implementing Learning Objects in education (as distinct from training) tends to specialise the definition to refer to items that have education meaning, for example units that can result in a few hours of student activity.'

i.e. Learning objects ...

'Any digital or non-digital, with education meaning, that an be used, re-used, or referened during technology-supported learning.'

Patterns

The concept of patterns applied to learning seeks to identify what can be provided as useful background, guidance and illustration in describing a set of inter-related desriptions for ways to assist learning online. Patterns are not viewed as something that can be reused diretly but rather as something that can provide the informed teacher with 'rules of thumb' as they build up their range of tasks, tools, or materials that draw on a collected body of experience.

IMS Learning Design

a formal language?

Learning Activity Management System (LAMS) - a software system that encourages the design of sequences of collaborative activites that use individual activity tools configured using a visual 'drag and drop' interface.

Learning Patterns

Ref Christopher Alexander on architecture and town-planning - to democratise architecture and town-planning by offering a set of coneptual resources that ordinary people could use in shaping or reshaping their environment.

REFERENCE

Alexander, C. (1979). The Timeless Way of Building. New York. OUP.

'His work provides a principled, structured but flexible resource for vernacular design that balances rigour and prescriptiveness by offering useful design guidance without constraining creativity.'

CF Long Compton Plan 1999 // Lewes Town Plan 2011

www2.tisip.no/E-LEN/

Fundamental Principles

• picture
• context
• body
• solution
• diagrammatic representation

'A pattern is a solution to a recurrent problem in a context.'

From Town Planning

A pattern 'describes a problem which occurs over and over again in our environment, and then describes the core of the solution to that problem, in such a way that you can use this solution a million times over, without ever doing it the same way twice.'

N.B. CONTEXT

• to help constraint and communicate the nature of both problem and solution.
• to help the reader understand enough about a problem and solution that they can adapt the problem description and solution to meet their own needs.
• its name crystallising a valued element of the design experience.

'The use of patterns, can be seen as a way of bridging between theory, empirical evidence and experience (on the one hand) and the practical problem of design.'

(When I start writing out the entire report I know it's of value!)

'In communities that have adopted the pattern approach, design patterns are usually drafted, shared, critiqued and refined through an extended process of collaboration.'

'Educational design needs to be seen as a process in which a designer makes a number of more or less tentative design commitments, reflecting on the emerging design/artefact and retracting, weakening or strengthening commitment from time to time.'

'Understanding the dynamic interplay between patterns in the mind and patterns in the world is key to seeing how and why design patterns work as aid to design. It is their 'fit' with the mind and the world that gives them power.'

'The focus for our work is in task design, as this has the strongest analogy with the built environment where patterns are used to build concrete objects that activity then flows around in a way that cannot be entirely predicted.'

IMS Learning Design Specification

Educational Modelling Language (EML)

• to enable flexible representation of the elements within online courses.
• materials and the order in which activities takes place.
• the roles that people undertake
• services needed for presentation to learners.

'How to package up the overall information into a structure that is modelled on a play, with acts, roles (actors) and resources.'

Of particular interest to someone who has written three screenplays, sold none, though had two short films produced ... with one sold to Channel 4! Someone who is also a graduate of EAVE, taking a cross-platform interactive TV drama through the script development process. But of greater relevance a producer of some 135 training and information films, many drama reconstructions using professional actors, directors and writers.

Content Packaging

- digital objects are gathered together with a manifest describing their location, but enhances the approach to give an ordered presentation of the different entities within the unit of learning.

Simple Sequencing

Level A: roles, acts and the environment
Level B: adds properties and conditions

www.unfold-project.net/ (UNFOLD PROJECT)

ref: Learning Activity Management System (LAMS)

e.g. 'What is greatness?'

A' Level history project.

www.valkenburggroup.org

N.B. One of the striking features of LAMS is the speed which new sequences can be created from an initial structure.

N.B. 'Changes to the sequence structure are achieved via a simple drag and drop interface in which existing activities can be dragged into new locations, and new activities dragged into the sequence at an appropriate point.'

LAMS offers a complete system in three parts where first a design is produced in the author environment, using a visual sequence editor, then designs are instantiated with a particular class group (and subsequently tracked) through the monitor environment, and then designs are accessed by students from the learner environment. The modularity of the system allows each environment to be considered in its own right (not just as a unified whole), and particular focus has been placed on the author environment as a way to engage teachers in designing activities for their courses.'

TOWARDS ...

An overall pattern language for learning.

CONCLUSION

'In the ideal of patterns, flexibility and advice is valued over complete description and instantly usable output.'

REFERENCE

McAndrew, P., Goodyear, P. and Dalziel, J. (2006) ‘Patterns, designs and activities: unifying descriptions of learning structures’, International Journal of Learning Technology, vol.2, no.2/3, pp.216-242; also available online at http://www.inderscience.com/search/index.php?action=record&rec_id=10632&prevQuery=&ps=10&m=or (Accessed 17 June 2010). (Revisited 26 Jan 2013)

Biographical notes: Patrick McAndrew is a senior lecturer in the Institute of Educational Technology at The Open University where he teaches and researches in the use of technology in support of learning. His work examines ways to design for active engagement by learners working together. This has involved studies in task based approaches to learning and their representation as learning designs within knowledge sharing environments. In 2001 he cofounded the UserLab research team which works within the Computers and Learning research group to undertake projects in e-learning.

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## New blog post

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 16 Jun 2010, 07:40

Seventeen weeks into a twenty two week course H807, Innovations in E-learning, I decide that I have to get a desk - flat-pack and cheap, as I can't work effectively with a broken laptop (screen gone) perched on the end of the bed leaning on a toy 'trolley compute console' thingey with printers and files in stacks on the floor. No cupboards, no shelves. The house still has that 'just moved in' feeling ... or rather, just emptied the removal van.

We've been here for nearly 3 years.

Life, eh? I've learnt that if you don't sort a place out in the first few weeks you never do, we never have. Though there is a lovely hedge around the garden. Pity you can't grew furniture too.

So why am I still perched on the end of the bed peering at a screen between a stack of ring-binders?

Lovely desk, but my son has it. He has homework to do too.

Does it matter?

For me, I've always liked a desk, shelves and desk space ... somewhere to spread out. I've always liked a 'room of my own,' as Virginia Woolf put it and was ok until the assemblages of family pressed in and the need to relocate out of the country and into a town for schools and easier commutability to London led to a series of compacting exercises.

Excuses?

I think I'll take the dog for a walk on the South Downs.

As Nietzsche said, 'how can anyone become a thinker, if he does not spend at least a third of the day without passions, people and books?'

Or is the dog a passion?

And the South Downs?

Try High Barn to Hope Gap and the River Cuckmere with the chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head in the distance and the English Channel Horizon 15 miles or so away.

Where I think.

(I think !?)

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## How to improve retention - scaffolding, mentors, interaction and community

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 22 Dec 2020, 21:02

Fig.1. For online learning to work you need scaffolding - Drawing by Simon Fieldhouse

## Levels of interaction and support

• Drop out rates from 20-50% for online courses ... more than for traditional courses.

A full breakdown of the figures, how prepared, representing which institutions and student groups would be helpful. Anyone can use a statistic if they don't identify its source.

But if they've paid their fees the college has its cash and can free up resources. Do the bean counters recognise the contribution those quitting to make a course viable, let alone profitable? Educational Institutions should go to extraordinary lengths to attract and retain the right people to courses and to keep them on board and fully engaged.

## A major issue is the degree of academic integration.

• Performance
• Identity as a student

Against sticking with a course are :

• isolation
• instructional ineffectiveness
• negative attitudes
• overall dissatisfaction with the learning experience

Self-directed skill set:

• self-discipline
• the ability to work alone
• time management
• learning independence
• a plan for completing

Especially Self-directed learning skills ... that are developed in a social context through a variety of human-oriented interactions with peers and colleagues, teams, informal social networks, and communities of practice.

'These challenges to the retention of distance learners, interestingly enough, have something in common, they seem to hinge on learners' need for significant support in the distance learning environment through interaction with others (e.g. peers, instructors, and learner support services personnel).' Tait (2000)

### The central functions of learner support services for students in distance education settings are:

• cognitive
• affective
• systemic

Scaffolding - ZPD (Vygotsky, 1934) Scaffolding involves providing learners with more structure during the early stages of a learning activity and gradually turning responsibility over to learners as they internalize and master the skills needed to engage in higher cognitive functioning. (Palinscar, 1986; Rosenshine and Meister, 1992).

Scaffolding has a number of important characteristics to consider when determining the types of learner support services distance students may need:

• Provides structure
• Functions as a tool
• Extends the range of the learner
• Allows the learner to accomplish a task that would otherwise not be possible
• Helps to ensure the learner's success
• Motivates the learner
• Reduces learner frustration
• Is used, when needed, to help the learner, and can be removed when the learner can take on more responsibility.

(Greenfield, 1984; McLoughlin and Mitchell, 2000; Wood et al., 1976)

'Scaffolding is an inherently social process in which the interaction takes places in a collaborative context.'

In relation to learning with the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA)

• Are people coming onto the Level II course who are not yet suitable? Do they submit a learning orientation questionnaire?
• Is the candidate's club or pool operator giving them ample assistant teaching opportunities and support?

Mentors utilise the items gathered during the admissions process - data from the intake interview, self-assessment, diagnostic pre-assessment, and Learning Orientation Questionnaire - to develop to Academic Action Plan, that provides a roadmap for the learner's academic progress including information about learning resources and assessment dates.' At WGU.

Learning is a function of the activity, context, and culture in which it occurs - i.e., it is situated (Wenger, 1998).

Successful completion of and satisfaction with an academic experience is directly related to students' sense of belonging and connection to the program and courses (Tinto, 1975).

Social learning experiences, such as peer teaching, group projects, debates, discussion, and other activities that promote knowledge construction in a social context, allow learners to observe and subsequently emulate other students' models of successful learning.'

'A learning community can be defined as a group of people, connected via technology mediated communications, who actively engage one another in collaborative learner-centred activities to intentionally foster the creation of knowledge, while sharing a number of values and practices, including diversity, mutual appropriation, and progressive discourse.'

N.B. 'Creating a positive psychological climate built upon trusting human relationships.'

#### REFERENCE

Collins, A., Brown, J. S., & Newman, S. (1989). Cognitive apprenticeship: Teaching the craft of reading, writing, and mathematics. In L. Resnick (Ed.), Knowing, learning and instruction: Essays in honor of Robert Glaserm, 453-494.

Duguid, Paul (2005). "The Art of Knowing: Social and Tacit Dimensions of Knowledge and the Limits of the Community of Practice". The Information Society (Taylor & Francis Inc.): 109–118.

Ludwig-Hardman & Dunlap. (2003) Learner Support Services for Online Students: Scaffolding for success in The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, Vol 4, 10, 1 (2003)

Palincsar, A.S. (1986). Reciprocal teaching. In Teaching reading as thinking. Oak Brook, IL: North Central Regional Educational Laboratory.

Rosenshine, B. & Meister, C. (1992) The use of scaffolds for teaching higher-level cognitive strategies. Educational leadership, 49(7), 26-33.

Seely Brown, John; Duguid, Paul (1991). "Organizational learning and communities-of-practice: Toward a unified view of working, learning and innovation". Organization Science 2 (1).JSTOR 2634938.

Tait, J (2004) The tutor/facilitator role in retention. Open Learning, Volume 19, Number 1, February 2004 , pp. 97-109(13)

Tinto, V (1975) Dropout from Higher Education: A Theoretical Synthesis of Recent Research. Review of Educational Research Vol.45, No1, pp.89-125.

Vygotsky. L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of the higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: The Harvard University Press Vygotsky, L. S. (1998a). Infancy (M. Hall, Trans.). In R. W. Rieber (Ed.), The collected works of L. S. Vygotsky: Vol. 5. Child psychology (pp. 207-241). New York: Plenum Press. (Original work written 1933-1934)

Wenger, Etienne (1998). Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-66363-2.

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## Student Support in Open Learning ... and home birthing!

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Dearnley's paper (Dearnley, 2003) considers the support required to aid Enrolled Nurses (ENs) to become Registered Nurses (RNs) and the necessity to run open learning courses given the demand created in 1987 when the EN role was to be phased out.

The ENs were:

• practising nurses
• most had family and home commitments

(it would be useful to know how far they had taken formal education, to GSCE/O'Level leacing school at 16 I guess?)

There were, in Dearley's words 'existing life responsibilities and events." (Dearnley, 2003)

MORE TO FOLLOW!

(Just been handed the final 'birthday list, edited by my wife, for my son who is 12 at 3.23am tomorrow morning and will no doubt be up to celebrate the moment. As I delivered him (with some help from my wife) it is an important memory for me too ... long story, but our Midwife was 45 miles away and turned up 35 minutes after the event ... an ambulance arrived 10 minutes after the event and said 'you seem to be doing fine' and went off and made themselves a cup of tea).

Oh joy.

"Emergency Home Birth" in the book we had was a chapter, but also for those in a real emergency a half-page check list. Guess which I used? Scissors, string, hot water and towels come to mind! And what to do if the umbilical chord threatens to throttle your child ... just as well, it nearly did, so I at least knew how to disentangle this Japanese knot-weed come power cable ganglion of rope).

There's a picture of father and son asleep, him on my chest, about an hour later. My wife was in the bathroom with the Midwife taking a bath and ensuring that the placenta made an appearance.

An 'event' to say the least.

(Six hours later I was in the West End of London presenting the final cut of the conference opener for the launch of the European Stock Market. It NEVER crossed my mind however to call my son 'EASDAQ' !)

WHERE WERE WE?

Dearnley can wait ...

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## TMA03, Reflective Writing and e-learning (or not).

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 16 Mar 2014, 06:14

I understood from the heading for TMA03 in H807 that 'it is permissible to use an extract from a very long message.' I therefore deleted the 900+ additional words that on two occasions occurred in a forum message.

At one stage I had in an earlier draft all messages including the Tutor's introduction, my full response and even a previous pertinent message from another contributor. This for 'context' and making marking easier might have been better than all the html links that I added PER MESSAGE. I checked these anchors/links and there was a graphic in the Blog message too - clearly something in the uploading/submission process fangled these up.

The links/titling were absolutely as clear as anyone could wish them to be. A message per page.

My understanding of what makes 'reflective' writing is perfectly valid. It is open ended, not prescriptive - it is after all my mind that is coming up with these ideas, which is the entire point of it, to develop my personal understanding. I am trying to enhance my way of thinking, not adopt someonelse's.

In relation to my continued dislike of the term 'e-learning,' it isn't difficult to refer to plenty of current articles, including JISC that agree that the term is not universally agreed or accepted. Salmon referring to 'e-lapsed' time for an 'E-tivity' is palpably ridiculous. Academic os this ludicrous desire to 'coin a word or phrase and a cliched attitude regarding e-learning that anything with 'e' attached gains the 'e-' branded values. Balderdash.

'The first decade of the 21st century is already on the wane and we stand at an interesting point as regards the use of technology to support and enhance learning and teaching. The fact that we still refer to much of this enhancement as e.learning (and still disagree about what the term actually means) signals that the relationship between technology and learning is not as yet an entirely comfortable one.' JISC 2007 (Introduction)

The lesson I have learnt is that it is vital to meet face-to-face, even to speak to someone through. Elluminate or on the phone where all kinds of important cues and nuances to understanding come into play: tone of voice, pauses, choice of words ... and then facial expressions and body language when face-to-face. As occurred at an ASA workshop the other week, I simply couldn't get my head around what the tutor was trying to say about Some aspect of Nutrition,I eventually left it, but a fellow student could see by my expression that I was just fed up of asking the same question and getting a numpty response that made no sense - this student made a far better job of explaining to me the point the tutor could not.

Two decades of sailing and I could tie and adequate Bolen knot with a struggle having been shown how to do it a hundred times - only when an instructor used the term 'it's a gripping knot' did I understand WHY the knot worked and WHY it was important. My father didn't permit the word 'why?' His favourite line was 'don't ask why, ask how high.' Whatever that means!?

I must know why.

My quest is to discover why. Why is my nemis. Get me asking questions and I become driven to find answers, my asnwers.

If I keep asking 'why?' regarding the ECA, it will be because I haven't had this 'Bolen knot' moment - I genuinely thought with TMA03, as occurred on about the 7th draft of TMA02, that this moment had occurred.
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## H807 Block 3

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Now the building blocks come out. What stages must be passed through, what needs to be included, to create an effective e-learning course.

Not a teacher, so the reading will be gone over with great care.

Fascinating. Something I should have studied long ago, in the 1980s when I become involved in the production of training videos, in the 1990s when these become interactive in from 2000 as we went online.

My role? Writing and directing the video material that anchored the learning, as 10-20 minutes narrative pieces or as case studies, or vignetters to be inserted into a learning design that was of no concern to me.

Now it is.

Everything here in will be thought through not only with the ECA in mind, but with the scheduling, costing and team-creation for this project which will start looking for sponsors in July.

A focus and an incentive to learn.

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## Eleven years ago I had a dream ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 29 May 2010, 06:15

Wednesday 1st December 1999

Had a ridiculous dream in which I found I was making observations about people in a queue, several of whom were doing an Ellen Levey, they were taking notes on palm top computers and had digital cameras slung around their necks.

Came across this browsing a blog I started in September 1999.

Now people have smartphones, heads stuck in their hand held gadets rather than interacting with the world around them. Ellen Levey had just featured in the Washington Post as she had spent a year keeping a photo journal and blog.

Eleven years ago this was a novelty.

if you want to get noticed in 2010 I suggest publishing a book, hardback.

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## Oxbridge History Exam 1980

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 5 May 2014, 07:03

The journey I set out on to get to Oxford or Cambridge took two years.

Not getting along with Economics I switched to History after a term in the Lower Sixth. (Not getting on with Sedbergh School, Cumbria, I left !)

My essays, though long (always, my habit, then, as now - why say something in six words when eighteen will do?) Tell Proust to write in sentences of less than six words, in paragraphs that don't flow from one page to the next (ditto Henry Miller).

Where was I?

See how a stream of consciousness turns into a cascade?

I digress.

My essays (I still have them. Sad. Very sad). Were on the whole terrible. A 'C' grade is typical, a 'D' not unknown. So what happened to get me to straight As, an Oxbridge exam and a place to study Modern History at Balliol College, Oxford?

Composting

I was bedding down. Putting things in a stack. And working my pile. Perhaps my history tutors detailed notes and bullet points fed on my poor essays? Perhaps the seeds that took root were carefully tendered?

Repeated testing (my self) and learning how to retain then regurgitate great long lists of pertinent facts helped.

Having an essay style I could visualise courtesy of my Geography Teacher helped. (Think of a flower with six or so petals. Each petal is a theme. The stamen is the essay title, the step the introduction and conclusion).

Writing essays over and over again helped. Eventually I got the idea.

Try doing this for an Assignment. You can't. Yet this process, that took 24+ months to complete can be achieved over a few weeks. Perhaps a blank sheet of paper and exam conditions would be one way of treating it, instead I've coming to think of these as an 'open book' assessment. There is a deadline, and a time limit, though you're going to get far longer than the 45 minutes per essay (or was it 23 minutes) while sitting an exam.

Personally, I have to get my head to the stage where I've done the e, d, c, and b grade stuff. When I've had a chance to sieve and grade and filter and shake ... until, perhaps, I reach the stage where if called to do so I could sit this as an exam - or at least take it as a viva.

Not a convert to online learning as an exclusive platform though.

Passion for your tutor, your fellow students ... as well as the subject, is better catered for in the flesh.

The way ahead is for 'traditional' universities to buy big time into blended learning, double their intake and have a single year group rotating in and out during a SIX term year (three on campus, three on holiday or working online.)

P.S. Did I mention teachers?

Have a very good teacher, it helps. The Royal Grammar School, Newcastle where I transferred to take A' Levels delivers.

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## Face to face over online learning

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Whilst I Adore being online, and feel it offers something to learning ... in many cases, certainly longer or more demanding coruse, face-to-face must be a built in component.

Oxytocin

BBC Radio 4. 25 MAY 2010. C 10.30.

Why face to face is better than Facebook, because with out real human contact you don't get this hit of oxytcin.

Passion for a subject is self-evident when you meet fellow students with such passion. Try this online when of your 15 strong tutor group only FIVE have made much active contribution.

Yet our 'access' to other tutor groups is restricted or throwned upon.

Imagine going up to Oxbridge and finding you student life (and education) reduced to that with your allocated tutor and tutor group ... with the doors to the JCR locked. (And the MCR & SCR for that matter).

Is the learner-centred education at its worst or institution-centric learning at its best?

Bereft of sharing such views at the 'front line' I am now reduce to pasting them to a hidden wall, in an underground tunnel. i.e. where my fellow tutor group, and fellow students are least likely to pick it up.

Am I learning something about online learning? Of course I am. H807 is in desperate need of 're-invention' Rogers. 2003

REFERENCE

Rogers E, M Diffusion of Innovation(2003. 5th edition)

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## Use of personal photos

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 10:37

A healthy debate over the use of photographs has developed in our Forum.

What is best practice?

There needs to be common behaviour for a start. If some of us show our faces while others do not, or put up abstract images or symbols then I'd liken this going to a dinner party and finding some people in fancy dress, or eating alone outside ... or hiding under the table.

There is a very good reason to 'show your face' - there is not better way to relate to someone, or to 'tag' a piece of text.

As a swimming coach I now coach or teach or have responsibility for nearly 300 children age 5-17. I know who they are because I recognise their faces. This is what we humans do, faces are of such vital importance, even our field of vision is defined by the scale and detail of a face.

The choice of picture matters too. Why half hidden? Is it recent? And the mood? Would it ideally look like the Mast Head for a Newspaper ... or ought it to be more modest and reflective, not quite a passport photo but equally bland?

What do people think?

How do you represent yourself?

Do you have a different picture for different sites or do you use the same picture each time?

Is this you in the last year? Or the last decade!

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## The best walk in the world

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 18 May 2010, 10:56

The best walk in the world just got better - not a plane in the sky. The walk from High Barn down to Hope Gap with the view of the chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters and the English Channel is inspiring any day. It is glorious at 5.00am with a clear sky - a sky devoid of the usual tapestry of vapour trails, an experience all the better without the repetitive distance rocket roar of jet engines.

This is, I understand, some of the busiest air space on the planet. It is called Seaford and takes in air traffic leaving and landing in Gatwick, Heathrow and Stanstead ... and no doubt intercontinental flights from Europe heading to North America.

On a no-fly day the sky is open to the heavens. Otherwise the vapour trials like lines drawn to a distant vanishing point on an artist's sketch cage you in. I shouldn't be so poetic, it is graffiti. We should not have to tolerate any of their pollution, not the fouling of the air, not the noise or these visual intrusions on the natural world.

The busiest shipping lane in the world looks it. There are ships and tankers and ferries of various enormous sizes strung out along an horizon some ten miles or more away to the South.

The tide is further out than I have ever known; I have walked here often for ten years. It must be a spring tide. I take this advantage to walk out to the water's edge and look back and forth along the coast, East to the lighthouse of Beachy Head and and West far beyond Brighton & Hove to Littlehampton.

There is a single yacht heading West. I wish to be on it.

The walk takes me around to the mouth of the Cuckmere River where I lay down to enjoy the empty ceiling above my head. It won't last long. I need a fish eyes lens to capture it all. A rare sight.

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## The Cognitive Interview

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 13 May 2010, 16:04

Pure serendipity but I have caught this documentary twice in the last couple of weeks on UK terrestrial TV.

So insightful on the way the human mind works. How such tiny nuances of sensory information can help us recollect genuine memories ... or to create false memories.

There is relevance here.

How does the mind gather and retain and use information ? And how can the trivial take on extraordinary importance. And importantly, what is the effect of online-learning that deprives us of some important memory-binding tools.

What do you think?

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## More face-to-face ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 13 May 2010, 14:21

Hungry for face-to-face interaction I spent 90 mins sharing ideas on e.learning with the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA). This is an exciting time for sport in the UK with the London Olympics 2012 fast approaching - indeed athletes who hope to be on the podium have been working towards this goal for some time already.

How do we get more people to swim and win more medals?

E-learning has a part to play in this and I'm confident that the ASA will deliver.

I'll do my bit by addressing a specific learning problem that can be addressed with a simple, innovative, e-learning idea.

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## Creativity in e-learning - OU MAODE H800

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 26 Oct 2011, 07:49
'We are (re) seeing the role of creativity and the hyperpersonal in teaching and learning, and (re)appreciating the value of play, and the importance of the 'learning community. We can not assume that the skills and pedagogy of face-to-face teaching will be appropriate in cyberspace. We have to be open to change and open to the lessons, both in their delights and their dangers, that teaching online can offer.' (Chester & Gwynne 1998)

Watching on YouTube the way in which sequences from 'Downfall' have be subtitled, satirised and exploited reminded me how learning can be fun.

In one version Hitler and his motley crew in the Berlin Bunker debate the benefits of the Apple iPad. Not only does it have me in stitches, but if it is accurate it informed me of the pros and cons of the iPad and left me with the view that it will fail. i.e. stick with your iTouch or iPhone.

This reminds me of training videods that featured John Cleese (from Melrose productions in the 1970s & 1980s) and later Rhys Grith Jones from Not the Nine O'Clock News in the 1990s.

You can have a laugh and learn.

REFERENCE

Andrea Chester & Gillian Gwynne 1998. Online Teaching. Encouraging Collaboration through Anonymity. Department of Intellectual Disability Studies Royal melbourne Institute of Technlogy. JMCM 4 (2) December 1998

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