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Crushing on Michael Wesch... just a little bit!

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Edited by Anna Greathead, Saturday, 5 May 2018, 15:21

Saturday is 'new week' day for OU students so I try to get a good start and spend a few hours studying so that I don't have to play catch up later in the week. The first activity for this week began with some interesting (slightly dry!) summaries of various studies looking at how learners use technology in their learning and whether the very process of learning may be changing as technology offers more and more options. After a few pages of these we get presented with this video by Michael Wesch who also produced this video which I found profoundly helpful - and moving - earlier in H800. At that time I watched a few talks by him on YouTube. He is an inspiring figure. 

Anyway - I wish I had watched the video and then read the text-reports. I'm not surprised to find a well made, slickly produced and cleverly devised video to be more engaging than academic reports - what did surprise me was that when I re-read the text summaries of those reports it all made a bit more sense to me. The medium really is key - and that seems to be the foundational point of every conclusion by every researcher in this area. 

There is debate over whether 'young people' (Digital Natives, Google Generation, Millennials) are fundamentally different in some way having grown up with technology. What there can be no serious disagreement about is that they are growing up in a world unlike any anyone else ever has grown up in; and that they, possibly more than any generation before them, have seen such profound and massive cultural change and will see more and more of it with each passing year of their lives. A multitude of agencies are trying to catch the attention of this generation with the technology. The agencies have to be cleverer and cleverer because the young people are getting savvier and savvier! Agencies who seek to engage learners with technology to enhance their studies also have to be cleverer and cleverer! 


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Week 1, H800. A post-graduate newbie!

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Edited by Anna Greathead, Wednesday, 14 Feb 2018, 23:31

I have not formally studied anything since 1996. I signed up to do MAODE in a mad moment when I thought I wouldn't be busy by the time February rolled around! I really didn't know what to expect and I was apprehensive.

Technically week 1 has been slightly less of a challenge than I expected. Whilst I use computers and technology all the time I have only the most passing familiarity with how anything actually works and I was somewhat intimidated by the idea that there would need to be a wide variety of materials to download, save, print, annotate and so on. I bought, just this week, a new laptop as our old PC showed itself unfit for the job. I've also bought some USB headphones. 

I am under no illusions that week 1 has been an 'easing in' exercise. We have watched, read and listened to people who have made interesting and thought provoking arguments and points. We have conversed on the forum (so far it's been very friendly and supportive - long may that continue) and I have looked at some of the extra reading and also followed some links provided by others in my tutor group. I have found it fascinating.

Things which have grabbed my attention this week:

1. A reflection on the short and long term effects of the invention of the printing press in Europe was simply mind blowing. As a sociology graduate the details about the lengthening of childhood - not for sentimental reasons but simply because it takes longer to learn to read and write than to speak and listen - was so interesting. This sent me on a train of thought as I considered the impact of other technologies in a much wider and long term way.

2. A TED talk linked to by a tutorial group colleague by Sugata Mitra inspired me! His account of how organically children can learn by themselves with little adult intervention (The School in the Cloud) turned my experience and expectation of education upside down. I reflected on how this could work in a context where formal schooling is the norm and whether adults who have been formally schooled in a western setting may be ruined for this kind of peer to peer learning. The SOLE (Self Organised Learning Environment) seems miraculous but I wonder if it can be effectively used alongside more traditional and familiar schooling methods or if it really is an either / or situation.

3. A webcast (Dr Ian Rowlands) about the 'google generation' multi tasking also made me think a lot. (I watched it and then read the transcript). In common with the interview with Gregor Kennedy there was a discussion about whether the generation who had grown up with the internet were fundamentally different in their learning behaviours, or if they simply were using new technologies to behave exactly as all generations have behaved. I recalled my own undergrad studies where I could often be found with ten books on a library desk, a few folders crammed with print outs and photo copies of journal articles and a fellow student to discuss things with. I was a pre-google multitasker! My (tentative) conclusion is that learning to be a focused student has always taken some people some time and that the advent of the internet hasn't altered that - it just makes the multitasking (procrastinating? distraction?!) easier to log and count.  

So far many of our resources have been very old (2008 may not sound that long ago but it was before widespread social media penetration and before the smartphone was ubiquitous) which concerns me a little. Surely the changes between 2008 and 2018 are at least as much, if not more, than the changes between 1998 and 2008?

I am looking forward to exploring the online library. A few experimental searches have convinced me it is a veritable treasure trove of fascinating and relevant material (not to mention fascinating, irrelevant and time consuming!).  


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