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Deep in EneMyA Territory!

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The EMA accounts for 60% of the final grade for H818 and I am right in the middle of 'it gets worse before it (hopefully!) gets better' stage.

I have three documents (parts 1, 2 and 3) open, I have six Firefox windows open and a total of 30 tabs open.

Each of my three documents is already over the word count. And none of them is close to being complete (in terms of satisfying the brief) or decent (in terms of academic language, referencing or coherence).

Experience should be telling me that I am always like this a week before a deadline and (thus far!) I have always submitted something complete, decent and which received a good mark.

Sadly - experience is telling me no such thing! Paranoia, with her irritatingly loud and strident voice, is telling me that I can't keep getting away with it! I clearly do not belong on this course at this level and this time they will notice and call me out!

So on the battle goes! I will continue to fight the word count, the library, the search function of Open Studio and my own imposter syndrome!

Send provisions please!

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Sustained or Scattergun?

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If I could go back to October 2019 I would tell past-Anna this one thing about H818 - I'd say identify a couple of people who engage a lot with the course and comment on every single thing they post. Search out their blogs, twitter accounts and any other platform they frequent and comment there too! Don't stop doing this after TMA02 is done and dusted. If they stop posting stuff then hound them until they do!

My issue with part 2 of the EMA is that it requires 'sustained' engagement with two other projects. I have made dozens and dozens of comments in Open Studio and have generally been in the upper quartile of 'engagers' with H818 (I think) but I am struggling to find anyone who I would class as having been the recipient of my sustained involvement in their project as it developed.

I emailed Simon (the tutor!) in the hope that he might have an innovative and inclusive definition of 'sustained' which I could implement (see what I did!) but sadly his bar is even higher than my own. He says that even if I have only commented a couple of times on the poster development, and a couple of times on the abstract development, and a couple of times on the conference development, and a couple of other occasions then that would be fine! So - as long as I have engaged 8 times.... hmmmm.

And even the people with whom I have engaged the most - (typically 4 or 5 comments) - there is a problem. A lot of my 'engagement' is little more than 'I really like this' or 'you spelled survey wrong in paragraph 2'.

I know that we were told this nearer the start but I content we were told and not told! I am going to search out new H818 starters in April to give them the heads up I needed and didn't get! How's that for good networking practice?!

Permalink 3 comments (latest comment by Helen Darlaston, Monday, 2 Mar 2020, 17:24)
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EMA - a game of three halves!

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Now the H818 conference is done and dusted it's time to turn our attentions to the EMA. Unlike my previous MAODE modules this counts for 60% - not 50% - of the final grade of the module.

It's an unusual EMA because it's far more reflective than academic. This is not in my comfort zone even though it should, in theory, be no harder.

  • Part 1: I must evaluate my own project from a critically reflective perspective. Manageable...
  • Part 2: I must evaluate my own project in comparison to the projects of two of my course mates and demonstrate sustained engagement with the development of their artefacts and presentation. More or less impossible.....
  • Part 3: I must evaluate my own journey as a networked practitioner referring to relevant theory. Manageable...

My problem with part two is that I have commented widely - but not deeply. I have breadth rather than depth.

That said - I am not sure any of us can demonstrate 'sustained engagement' with the projects of other students. What exactly is 'sustained engagement'?

My plan at the moment is to get great marks on parts 1 and 3! Based on my module averages I can get 60% without even doing part 2!

So - what could I have done differently or, maybe more pertinently, what could have been done differently?

I could have been more engaged. But - I was pretty engaged. I probably wasn't the top engager but I think I was in the top quartile. I could have been more strategic and decided early on which projects would be my 'top two' and consciously engaged with those students about those projects. This would, however, have been to the detriment of my networking with the other students and possibly to their projects.

Or - the university could have grouped us into smaller groups of 5 or so students. The module Open Studio page quickly became very crowded and hard to navigate. Had we been in smaller groups we would have been able to keep track of a smaller number of projects and been able to see them progress and make meaningful suggestions and comments. This was achieved to some extent by the fact that a smaller group of us have an active WhatsApp group. I felt more inclined to see how Anna, or Bindi, or Allyson, or Robert's projects were progressing because we had a relationship through this group. (There are other members too!), Had this smaller group been slight facilitated by the OU (maybe based on project type?) then maybe this could have been more easily achieved within the VLE as well as outside of it.

Anyway - I am sure you all recognise procrastination when you see it....




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Huuuuuge Imposter Syndrome

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So the presentation is tomorrow at 9.10. Slight hiccup in that my teenage children, who would usually be at school, won't be as their school was damaged by Storm Ciara. Suddenly the 9.10 feels like a blessing as they will most likely be in bed and not on the internet!

Suddenly my entire endeavour - the poster, abstract, project, presentation, script - feels like it was thrown together by an earnest and slightly geeky ten year old. Everyone else has much more impressive sounding project titles and (I fear) much more academically slanted projects to present in a much more academic style.

I am terrified. And I am first.

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Anna Greathead, Friday, 14 Feb 2020, 09:36)
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Charting New Waters

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Edited by Anna Greathead, Wednesday, 15 Jan 2020, 13:12

TMA 2 of H818 is proving to be a challenge! So much so that I pursued my time-honoured transition of pretending it wasn't happening for a slightly too long. I suddenly found that I should have done more and that I really hadn't got any clear idea of what I was supposed to do, let alone what I was expected to achieve!

I knew I was doing my overall project - essentially the whole of H818 - on the use of the blog tool with OU students. I knew that the main two benefits of blogging reported in most of the literature was reflection and collaboration so my initial poster simply reflected that:

A large word BLOG with the mirror image reflected in water. Lots of smaller words 'BLOG' interconnected with arrows above.

I liked this poster but, upon seeing the lengths my colleagues were going to, became sure it was too simple. I couldn't see how I could add additional media such as audio or animation as the point of the poster was its simplicity and the room it allowed the viewer to make their own interpretation.

I remembered the TED talk by Amanda Palmer which we viewed a few weeks ago. The point we were supposed to get was about open access models but what most struck me was the power of story telling. The reason I find blogging helpful and one of the reasons I believe blogging is so popular is because of the power of stories. It therefore made sense to give my poster an element of story telling too.

With this in mind I created a narrative path of two people - one of whom blogged for reflection and the other who blogged for collaboration. I wanted to underline that both paths were both theoretical and actual uses and benefits of blogging, and that both augmented and enhanced learning.

Using PowerPoint I have added an audio track which are also on the slide and viewable to anyone not able to hear the audio.

This has been very 'out of the comfort zone' for me... but I guess that's the point! I also having to write an accessibility statement, an abstract and an essay detailing the progress of my project! Argh!

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Post TMA Slump

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Edited by Anna Greathead, Friday, 17 Jan 2020, 11:32

Does anyone else find it almost impossible to login to their OU account in the days immediately after they've submitted a TMA? I have just submitted my ninth OU TMA and must accept that this is my pattern. There seems no avoiding it!

I means I have a busy few days as I try to catch up but, if I am honest, I mostly sketch over the activities in the week immediately after a submission.

Anyway - I'm now five days post submission so I'm back here. Writing a procrastinatory blog post to delay any actual work by a further few minutes!


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Bumps in the Road

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H818 feels quite different to either H800 or H817.

Both of my previous modules felt solidly academic even though the delivery, assessment and teaching was done differently. I basically knew that I had to do the activities, do some extra reading, write an assignment which answered the question and was internally logical and then I would succeed.

H818 feels, already, like it might present of a challenge. There is a very strong push to produce something to 'publish' rather than a piece of work which will demonstrate to your tutor that you have understood the course and grasped the relevant concepts.

The word 'networked' obviously provides a clue but the extent to which we are to be working as a group n H818 scares me a bit! Group work in H817 was difficult!

Plus I am having to get to grips with yet more OU resources which don't quite match proprietary equivalents in terms of usability, intuitiveness or appearance.

Argh.

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Checkpoints and Processes

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I got stuck this weekend.

I grasped the concept that Lockyer et al. were communication. The checkpoint vs process comparison is simple but beautifully so. A major criticism of learning analytics, as we have studied to date, is that it necessarily uses the available data (which has not been collected with pedagogical advances in mind) rather than data being collected specifically with analytics in mind, Checkpoint data is the main data we have and shows us the easy to measure metrics - who clicked on the link? When and where? On what device? How long were they logged in to the VLE? How often did they post in the forum? When did they submit their assignment? How good was their assignment? How does any of this correlate with the socio-demographic data we hold about them?

The process data is more difficult to measure being more nuanced and essentially qualitative. Questions which might generate process data could include:

  • What was the quality of the forum postings? Did they demonstrate real understanding and engagement with the materials?
  • Did the individual make thoughtful comments about other people's work? Did those comments lead to a fruitful discussion about differences in perspective?
  • Has the learner managed to apply any of their learning into a new context such as their own workplace? What were the results of this?
  • Is there evidence of meaningful collaboration, knowledge sharing, discussion and debate between learners?
As I assessed Block 4 for this (as per the activity) I found I was simply engaged in a copy and paste activity - whereby I copied and pasted weekly activities into a table and then copied and pasted the same checkpoint and process data points into the relevant columns. I didn't finish it - there didn't seem to be any point!

Am I fundamentally misunderstanding something?!

Table about learning analytics
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Heuristic?!

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A heuristic evaluation is a usability inspection method for computer software that helps to identify usability problems in the user interface (UI) design. It specifically involves evaluators examining the interface and judging its compliance with recognized usability principles (the "heuristics"). Wikipedia

I've honestly never heard the word heuristic before (and I know a lot of words!)

Once more I am up against an OU activity task which I barely understand and feel utterly ill equipped to complete.

Our group project has done what many projects seem to do - rapidly mushroomed from being something theoretical and distant into being a fully fledged and almost complete project. After weeks of discussions and foundation work the actual thing feels like it has suddenly appeared. And now I am supposed to go and use it and find everything I can which is wrong with it!

There are a number of problems with this!

1. My personality means that I neither like to receive or give anything which can be perceived as criticism! Rob, my team mate, has done a phenomenal job and the tool created is looking really good. Are there things I would change if I had both full creative control and vastly improved technical skill - of course. Is there a single thing that I think is sufficiently bad that I want to create extra work and further debate - NO!

2. The 'heuristic' templates are complicated! I am unsure - even having read them all a few times - whether we are looking for broken links, unclear instructions, design features we don't much like, things we wish were there but aren't, things we wish weren't there but are.... it seems we have to connect every little quibble with some theory. This is making the whole task seem impossible.

3. Time is short. We need to get this done so only small things can realistically be changed. But I don't know what is small and what isn't because I have not got the faintest idea how this tool was built! It is not an exaggeration to say my heart leapt when it became obvious that Rob was a Moodle expert. (Cut me some slack though - I made the original template of the website!)

4. The site looks good. Any issues I have with it don't seem to fit the dominant heuristic model about usability. (Again - what exactly does it mean?!)

Anyway - I shall try to work it out.... again! And I also want to get a bit more done on my personal reflections about this project. I keep reminding myself that this accounts for 72% of the overall grade! ha


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Imposter Syndrome

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I remember being so grateful when someone who knows this stuff (a psychology graduate and trained counselor) told me about Imposter Syndrome! I thought I was the only one!

Anyway - that's been the story this week. I made a case study spreadsheet which has, apparently, been very helpful. I got it done reasonably early in the week which was good as I have been ill for a few days and unable to do a lot more. It was also helpful because my work was a foundation for other tasks which needed to be done and I was off the hook for them!

But it couldn't last forever. We had another web conference in the week about which I remember little. I was taking codeine and whilst it all made sense at the time I don't really understand the next steps!

Nevertheless I had a go this afternoon at two activities. I have produced *something* for each of them but I am extremely cautious about them both and think (as ever) that it will all be wrong and I'll be found out as someone who simply does not have what it takes for post graduate studies! I've been expecting to hear this from my tutor at every assignment point for over a year... somehow hearing it from a class mate would be worse! Less private for a start!

Group work is getting better. I've made my peace with the fact that we won't all be equally active or productive. And that includes it being ok for me to have a light week once or twice. Overall I know I have been a useful team member (at least if judged by participation and output) and I must be satisfied with that. I am seeing that what we are collectively producing is actually pretty decent. Six heads are better than one.... thought I might argue that three heads are better than six but that's another blog post!

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Taking Stock

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Edited by Anna Greathead, Friday, 17 Jan 2020, 11:32

I'm a week behind on activities (I think the whole group is and I think we are ahead of some of the other groups).

The first page of the fortnight which began a week ago used the words 'take stock' of what we had done so far.

Distributed group work has been challenging but also satisfying. I have been forced to learn and adopt new things but have also had the opportunity to show what I could do already. So here's my top ten of the project so far.

  1. I have learned how to use Google Docs. This is hopelessly tragic as I realise how ubiquitous it is. However - now I know I know. It's been quite intuitive and I'll definitely use it going forward in different contexts
  2. I set up a website! It's merely a Google Sites one but using the power of...err.... Google I did it. I really did it as a scratch pad for my own experimentation and I fully expected someone else to come along with something flashier and better (which would have been fine) but the team are editing it and it's coming together
  3. Working with people about whom I know essentially nothing has been surprising, frustrating, fun and difficult. In real life we often may have to work with people we don't know well but working with people we neither know nor can see brings up challenges I wouldn't have anticipated
  4. A good team leader is the crux of a project like this. I think of myself as a natural leader but I am so SO grateful that Vicky has been the Team Leader. She was the obvious choice (though she graciously suggested to the others that I could do it) and she's done brilliantly. I can see how much she is having to do and co-ordinate.
  5. Sometimes it feels like you need to be seen to be doing something more than actually doing something. I'm not proud of this but I am self conscious that anyone might think I am a slacker!
  6. Waiting for other people to do their 'bit' is frustrating in the extreme when you can't do your bit until they're done. I blame no one for this - I am fully aware that all six of us have complicated lives and that we all fit our studies around the rest of it rather than fitting our lives around our studies but when I have free time but can't get on with much.... I get a bit antsy!
  7. There is always something you can do! This flies in the face of the previous point I know! You can never have too much background information and reading on board (though you do need to know when to stop - there is an infinity of information and a finite word count and deadline). Reading around the subject - even if I don't directly feed it into the group - enables me to make suggestions and raise issues I would not have thought of otherwise
  8. Choosing the first thing (in our case the context) can take ages. As can making any firm decisions later on. Everyone wants to have a say and wants everyone else to have a say too. It is all too easy to waste time trying to ensure you arrive at absolute consensus. Pragmatically this is almost impossible and agreeing to an acceptable, albeit imperfect, route forward enables movement.
  9. Cross cultural and cross time zone working presents challenges which are hard to quickly overcome. Our team members are spread over 12 time zones - a conference altogether is not going to happen. This is simple logistics. What is less simple is the cultural mores, references and markers which are the stuff of daily conversation but which can inadvertently exclude people.
  10. Reflection is so important in every area of learning. Just as I have found this blog crucial for chronicling my OU journey I can see how properly facilitated reflection could be invaluable to anyone embarking on a new profession, study path or adventure.
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Progress?!

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Edited by Anna Greathead, Monday, 13 May 2019, 22:59

We got a somewhat panicky (or at least a panic inducing) message from our tutor today warning us that falling behind at this stage could be very problematic further on in the course. Although I had started on the activities for the week I was painfully aware of my inadequacy in some areas of technology and was waiting for someone more competent in my group to take the lead.

We have a nice WhatsApp group and a Slack... account? page? thing?! as well.

Anyway - I thought I would have a go with the 'create a site' activity - not with a view to being in charge of the site but so I could have a bit of a go before everyone else arrived! Had a huge panic when the OU instructions took us to an OU Google Docs page which is no longer active. I knew I *had* an OU Google Docs account because my laptop was keen to default there yesterday but I couldn't find out how to access it.

Then, after a few frantic messages on WhatsApp, I read the 'introduction to Block 3' and this was all explained.

However - I thought I would have a go at building a simple website anyway! And I did it! It's not flashy or exciting but it is a thing!

It's a small victory but conquering my fear of the technology is surely a key part of MAODE!

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Second Guessing

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I handed my TMA in two days early. I wasn't happy with the final section but I didn't have any ideas on making it better and  was reasonably happy with the rest of it. I weighed up the choices of having a weekend or battling for two more days and probably only being marginally more happy by the end of it and chose the former.

I relaxed for a few hours!

Then my H817 colleagues started chatting on WhatsApp and I started second guessing myself. Had I misinterpreted one of the questions quite significantly? Had I missed out a few major points? Had my desire (need) for a weekend without TMA pressure become the death knell of my Masters dreams?

I opted to leave it. I reviewed the question. It's possible I misinterpreted the question but, upon reviewing it, I am confident that the interpretation I went with is entirely valid. I may have missed a few major points but I used every single word available and I made lots of edits to be as succinct as possible. I did need a weekend without TMA pressure and, whatever happens, my Masters Degree dreams do not rest on this single assignment!

So I spent a couple of hours this afternoon starting TMA 3! It's a group project so I couldn't do anything substantive but I did an initial library search. I wrestled with Google Docs and Slack (man - if anyone needs tutoring on learning technology I will be first in line - my grasp of the theory is much better than my competency with the actual software!) and I did the first block 3 activity. 


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AWOL

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I have been doing the stuff - honestly!

I even wrote a long MOOCs post which I didn't quite finish and publish but which then disappeared.

Having been a big fan of the blog I am now frustrated by being directed to blog posts rather than forum posts. It's not as easy to engage as a group on a wide range of blogs rather than one page of forum discussions. 

I am finding the material interesting but not mind-blowing. Once I get the point I can usually anticipate what issues will be raised and what problems will be identified. I suppose this represents my learning about the subject matter and also adopting a mindset which is sensitive to that learning. Of course I occasionally hear a point I hadn't thought of but this is less often than before.

I shall plod on with the activities but I shan't blog or engage with them all - often because I have little to add.



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Asynchronous Collaboration

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Edited by Anna Greathead, Wednesday, 15 Jan 2020, 13:11

Not going to lie - I am finding this hard. 

I see no reason to assume that the other four people in my group are slacking off - after all I disappeared for a week to go on holiday, there are days I don't do any OU work at all due to other commitments and sometimes my dipping into H817 is unfocused and little more than a passing glance. (Although one of them has been AWOL all week!)

That said - I am frustrated that we haven't really completed what we were supposed to. There was a flurry of urgency in the week - an online poll, a WhatsApp conversation, a Padlet was set up, emails were sent and then not much has happened collaboratively since then. I have done some things, including a Wiki document which could morph into the final project; but I am painfully aware that I can't do this alone and that I might be getting it all wrong! I'm even paranoid enough to have wondered if the others have set up a separate group from which I am excluded due to my evident ineptitude! 

Collaboration is clearly a good thing. I don't think there is any real argument about that. But collaboration between people who are complete strangers, living in different times zones to one another, all collaborating in their spare time and with a ague brief as to what they're aiming to achieve is, let me assure you, hard work! 

So here's my check list of what would make this task easier!

1. Everyone participating from the beginning. At first there was a lot of waiting around for all of the group to join in. In hindsight this wasted the first half of the week. Whilst it's very democratic to want input from everyone before getting started it's impractical when you are unsure that everyone will give any input. 

2. Clearly designed brief with examples. We are all new to H817 and (I guess) many people are also new to the Open University, Post Graduate Studies and MAODE too. The brief we had was hard to pin down. It would have been better if it had been more 'essay' structured - 'outline the strengths and weaknesses of a chosen technology and evaluate how said technology has encouraged innovation or represented innovation in e-learning. Use examples from your own and / or other contexts'. Having to create a scenario and agree on it took ages. If a scenario is what is needed for later than give us one! 

3. Accept that contribution will be uneven and sporadic. Different people will be able to contribute to any project differently. One of our group set up a Padlet - great idea in theory but it was not immediately editable. I set up what I thought was a Wiki page which everyone could edit but it turns out to have been as secure as a bankers vault and I had to copy and paste it in an email to someone else to publish properly! I am most free on Tuesdays and at weekends. I usually cannot manage any study on Fridays. I imagine my group mates have similarly complicated schedules. 

4. Use WhatsApp, Messenger or some other proprietary platform to communicate. Exchange email addresses. If I were to make one recommendation to the OU it would be to make the forums a lot more like a Facebook comments thread. I am literally on Facebook for my entire waking life. My phone is rarely more than a foot away from me and any and all Facebook notifications are seen within minutes. Ditto WhatsApp, Messenger, email. I open my OU page maybe once or twice a day. It's rare that an OU forum post needs my immediate attention but  I could answer a query more immediately or ask a question and get a quicker response if it were more like Facebook. Our group WhatsApp group has been the place where most of our informal discussion has happened and from which we have directed one another to the work we've begun.

5. Try and replicate the situated group experience by exchanging the odd joke! A shared love of Red Dwarf (and red wine) led to a short but fun exchange. As a consequence I feel more connected to one of my group mates and therefore more able to effectively work with them. 

6. Don't expect the situated group experience to be very similar to the distributed group experience I have concluded that asynchronicity is the key issue. We are working on the same thing but not at the same time. We cannot, therefore, be certain that we are sharing fully the aims, objectives, vocabulary and understanding necessary to produce effective work. There will be misunderstandings and there will have to be compromise. 

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Collaboration over the Internet

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This week's activity is a group one. Our tutor group has been split into small groups and we are to complete an activity together. Have to confess that I groaned. I have exchanged a few messages with these people but I haven't heard their voices (my fault) and I don't know them AT ALL. I then scooted forward and looked at the next few weeks and the assessments and it seems group work is a far more dominant part of H817 than it was in H800. This makes me groan for a couple of reasons.

Firstly - it means I can't do work according to my schedule. In a non group-work week I would have finished my activities by now. The way my schedule works means I have more time at the start of the week than the end. 

Secondly - it means that if I totally misunderstand something then I, and I alone, get the associated fallout. No-one else is relying on me getting stuff right!

Thirdly - collaborating is tricky with people you don't know - even more so when your opportunities to get to know them are limited by having a solely online relationship. I often find I dominate in group work being naturally garrulous and an extrovert. In a group around a coffee table I can spot cues which show me if others are getting irritated by this and can back off... or I can see if I am in a group of people who are grateful when someone assumes to role of 'chair'. 

On the plus side - I also felt very apprehensive at the start of H800 and ended up doing well. Being a bit stretched is, according to the constructivist model, crucial to learning! 

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A missed week and a heap of guilt

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Edited by Anna Greathead, Sunday, 24 Feb 2019, 14:13

I flew out to India on 12th February and didn't return until 20th. Then I didn't log into my OU account until 22nd. 

I had prepared - kind of. I completed the week 9th-15th February before I left. I thought (optimistically) that I would immediately pick my OU stuff up and get the week 16th-22nd done after my return. Of course I hadn't allowed for jet lag, tiredness and other 'post holiday' commitments in my blithely made assumption and thus I missed that whole week. I am hoping to catch up on the activities today (I began yesterday) and be able to start this week tomorrow. But I realise now how valuable it is to do everything at the same time as the rest of the group. I simply wasn't part of the conversation. I can read the conversation. I can add my points, ideas, perspective and so on but everyone else has moved on. This is unusual as previously I have often been 'first' to add to a forum, to offer my thoughts and I have had issues with that as well! 

Worse still there was a group exercise from which I was entirely absent. I feel a bit bad. I am usually diligent in group work as I never want to be accused on not pulling my weight but this time it is undeniable. Actually - I feel a lot bad! I also missed the introductory tutorial. Both of them! There was one the day I flew out and another the day I arrived home! Both could have technically been possible but both would have been very difficult to schedule in. I am now also concerned I have missed out on the relationship building and recognition side of the group. 

But I am back now. I have blocked out some time to properly 'catch up' and hope to be back on track quickly. I am confident I can catch up on the academic stuff - the papers, activities and so on. I am more concerned that I won't be able to catch up on the softer but equally important business of being part of the tutor group.

Time will tell. 

Here's a picture to prove I was in India! 


Anna on an elephant

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Fell off the wagon :(

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In my last post I blamed the wait for my marked TMA for my feelings of disengagement but 2 weeks after I got it back I am only just properly logging in to my OU account. I have flitted in and out, I attended a tutorial (for which I was pretty unprepared) and I kept making plans to 'really get stuck in for a few hours this evening'. It's not been happening.

I do have a lot going on. My eldest child is, as I type, on a plane en route to Hong Kong where he will spend the next 5 weeks. He's been very chilled about it leaving me to complete the appropriate and necessary amount of worrying! My next child finished her A-level exams less than a fortnight ago leaving the whole household in a quivering heap of nervous exhaustion. I have two other children and a husband who have been somewhat neglected plus I have moved into a period at work which requires a fair amount of travel and diminished energy for study. Plus it is gorgeously sunshiny outside and studying is an inside activity. 

Thankfully an extension for TMA03 was agreed by my kind tutor! 

I imagine I can't be unique in a cyclical pattern of being 'in control' and 'on top of it' and 'coping fine' to the absolute opposite. 

Self directed adult studies require you to be a grown up. Absolutely no one harasses me to study. No one checks I am keeping up with the reading and the responsibility to log in and do the stuff lies entirely with me. Adulting is a skill which even an old woman of 44 sometimes finds tricky! 

Anyway - I now have the bones of my TMA3 together. I have started the activities for weeks 21/22 and I have looked at TMA04 and liked what I saw - it's more academic and less personal context dependent which is a relief. 

Just have to keep this up! What I really need is for my mum to draw a sticker chart and promise me a MacDonalds when I complete it! big grin

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Being first!

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The OU week runs from Saturday to Saturday and as I work a reasonably normal Monday to Friday week I try to get a good chunk of OU stuff done at the weekend. If the OU demands 15 hours per week (this varies a bit to be honest) then I want to get between 30% and 40% done before I go to work on Monday. 

It seems I am alone in this though as for the past couple of weeks I have arrived at the 'discuss this in the forum' bit of the activity and found that only the tutor has left a comment thus far (basically the question) which means I have to go first! Of course I don't have to. I have written my responses in Word with the intention of copying and pasting them into the forum after a few people have had their say first (obviously I would check their comments to ensure I hadn't said something utterly stupid first!) but even I can see this is a bit foolish! 

I suppose it is like that moment at a social gathering when no one wants to be the first to break into the buffet or be the one who cuts the cake or even the first on the dance floor. The validation you get from joining in is far more enjoyable than the risk you take in striking out first! 

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I'm Lovin' It!

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I just wanted to blog quickly about how much I am enjoying this journey. I know I moan a bit but I am really enjoying being 'a student' and learning something new and engaging. 

I think I am still somewhat afraid that I am totally unqualified to do this, and incapable of doing it well, and that any minute I'll be exposed as 'not really knowing what you're doing' but until any of those things happen I will enjoy the whole thing as much as I can. 

The only downside is that it is making me wonder what other hugely interesting subject areas are there and trying to schedule time to study those as well! The introduction this week to OERs did not help! 

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TMA01.... 68%

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Edited by Anna Greathead, Tuesday, 3 Apr 2018, 10:28

I have been stressed over the past days about the TMA score. I feared it would go badly, hoped it would go well but I hadn't considered my own personal 'badly to well' grade boundaries so now I am now sure how I think I did! 

I got good marks for my forum participation which I expected. I have been active and have received good feedback from both my student colleagues and tutor about my contributions. 

I dropped 3 marks (our of 10) on spelling and grammar which is a slap in the face! Though the feedback notes a couple of OU style omissions (which I confess to having deliberately omitted because of the blasted word count!) which may have been a problem. 

My biggest mark drops were not properly relating things back to my own context (it turns out my own context is not the rich seam of technology enhanced learning examples which I had previously assumed it to be!) and dodgy referencing. The second is especially annoying as I had an extra 24 hours in which I could have reviewed this again but I submitted early to get it out of the way. 

So I have a good 'Pass 3'. 2 marks off a Pass 2. This TMA only counts for 5% of H800 so it doesn't matter much in the overall scheme but it does and will affect my psyche and attitude. 

I am trying to use the Easter Break to crack on but everyone else is on their break which means getting on is tricky as H800 is more collaborative the further it goes! 

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Getting away from it all and Getting it

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Twice this week I have read a paper, found it impossible to comprehend, and then abandoned it for a while. 

The paper by Zimmerman about IALC (Interpersonal Action Learning Cycle) felt preachy and irritating before coffee with friends and a workout at the gym.... but somehow made a lot more sense afterwards!

The exercise about Learning Design almost reduced me to tear before I did some mum taxi duties and made a sandwich and now I think I get what the exercise is about (though the fine detail may still require wine!). 

I wonder if my subconscious is working away at some of this even when I am not concentrating on it. I have had a few 'light bulb' moments when I've stepped away from the laptop and the OU website for a few hours. 

I approached this course with a traditional education model in mind (how stupid am I?) and expected to be able to read diligently and listen carefully and then simply understand the material. I was not prepared for post graduate study to ask more of me than that. However - I can absolutely see the value in this way. It's just hard work! 

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Student Online Rooms

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Edited by Anna Greathead, Tuesday, 20 Mar 2018, 11:49

They really want us to use these! Really really!

I understand the theory. I can see that discussion what we are learning, how it applies to our experience and practice, and how we can move forward as a student body is valuable. Imperative maybe. I certainly welcome the chance to bounce ideas, concerns and frustrations off the very people who really are sharing the experience. 

However - I am not sure that John Seely Brown is right when he asserts that the distributed learning group is just as effective as the situated one. 

This could be, at least in part, a technological failing. At present we all have audio and a screen on which we can write messages (although only on the whiteboard and not in a chat format). We can see who is in the group and who is speaking. However - when speaking I can't hear what anyone else is saying so don't know if I am getting 'hmms' of approval or questioning. As with all web based technology the risk of a shaky connection means that the conversation is not seamless. And the lack of actual human people and all of their body language and cues is really sorely felt. 

I think I like my tutor group a lot. I think - were we to meet in a Costa for coffee - then I'd get on well with all of them. But using the online student rooms leaves me either sitting through an awkward silence for fear of starting to speak at the same time as someone else.... or 'taking charge' and worrying that my colleagues resent my assertiveness... or simply listening and not really participating.

It is also difficult to find times to 'meet'. We all have busy schedules and trying to organize it through a forum which people may only check once a day leaves little opportunity for spontaneous chat as might happen if we were on campus together. 

We have a Facebook group which is outside of the OU which I have found more immediate. I wonder if a tutor group WhatsApp group might actually be really useful. I don't even know how to propose that though! 

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TMA 01 - minus 4 days

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Edited by Anna Greathead, Thursday, 15 Mar 2018, 22:18

I don't know what they want.

I can demonstrate that I understand the papers and other materials they've directed me to

I can give examples of how my thinking about learning, and professional practice, has changed already

I can see how different learning theories fit with different learning practices

But I don't know if that is what they want..... 

The word count is horrifically low. In 500 words they want me to explain how a single H800 activity reflects (or doesn't) my own experience as a learner / teacher AND evaluate the activity as a part of the module. Now I assume I have to give some indication that I understand the material but that takes a couple of hundred words. Relating it to my experience or practice takes another 250.... so it's a mere sentence or two to evaluate the activity. 

And I have to do that three times. For three activities. From three separate weeks. (But not from three of the activities which we have had tutorials about!)

And then there is a discussion about those three tutorial activities. I am to discuss how much they reflect my experience AND engage critically with the text AND refer to other associated writings both within and outside of H800 AND make use of the forum posts and contributions of other students AND include a picture or two to support my argument (what? I am supposed to be making an argument?) AND all of this must be done in 800 words! 

I had a full length essay to hand in two days ago but I am so unsure. I have edited, re-edited, cut and pasted, checked the word count a thousand times. As I drive to work, or lie in bed, or watch TV, or do anything really new thoughts come to mind which I suddenly think are key and must be included. So something else must be jettisoned. But what? I've already taken out every adjective. I have phrased things as economically as it is possible to phrase them. 

Thankfully there are 10 marks for spelling and grammar! So I won't get a zero!

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Doubting

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Edited by Anna Greathead, Thursday, 15 Mar 2018, 22:26

In the introduction for week 5 we were told that the workload for this week as much reduced as they were aware we would be starting to thinking about our first TMA (Tutor Marked Assignment) which is due in 9 days time.

For a start - week 5 has not been a walk in any park! There are a lot of things to get through and whilst I appreciate not all were mandatory there was still a lot. I have not left any optional activity undone as yet - I know it might sound foolish but as I am such a newbie I don't want to risk missing out on any learning or important concepts and ideas.

This week has sent me on quite an enjoyable rabbit warren (can I introduce a new verb - warrening - for when you find yourself a dozen links on from your original article having explored multiple offshoots en route?) as I looked at the work of Wesch. Wesch is an anthropologist which, odd as it sounds, feels more familiar to me than the education and psychology environment I have found myself in. However - the work of Wesch, in common with so many others in my H800 journey to date, has intrigued me and got me thinking but NOT about technology enhanced learning! I am thinking about learning, and technology, and societal change, and educational pedagogy but I am not putting these together in quite the way I think I am supposed to be. 

Which brings me to TMA01. In this I am to choose three activities I have looked at so far and report on them and relate them to my current practice. I could choose almost any which have intrigued me. I could choose almost any for which I had to apply a sociological or philosophical or political analysis. But I have to apply my own experience in learning. 

I have written my first two 500 word sections and I think I am on the right track but the third is proving difficult. Is the sentence 'this form of learning simply won't work well if technology replaces the actual people' an example of 'relating to technology enhanced learning'? I am also suddenly flooded with self doubt. I am not convinced I am clever enough for post-grad study. I understand the material (on one level at least) and I can make links and connections between various arguments (in one sense at least) but I am doubting my ability to write an essay which fulfills their criteria. 

Nine days until it must be in! I have the full word count already. I haven't answered all of their questions... I think! 

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