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Barcelona : Day 1

Day 1 Barcelona Air BnB Trip

Deposited at terminal C and found ourselves wandering off towards a distant train station in a gradually dwindling group. Soon lost and in building works we shared views and I found myself leading the party the length of the airport from terminals C, through B towards A.

Starting to realise the length of the walk and realising that the bus parked by Terminal B was headed for Placa de Catalunya near to our final destination I opted for that. Having only ever got the train into town this was a departure for me, that left a few who were on my trail temporarily bewildered.

Having arrived 30 minutes late I now fear I have badly misjudged our arrival at our Air BnB. My phone plays up too, being full, apps don’t load, I miss messages and end up relying on phone calls. All calls from our host give no identity which starts to bug me. At last we speak and we get the full address. One letter error and we are delayed again and now someone else will meet us there. Once resolved we find ourselves at a door to a late 19th century or early 20th six storey mansion block. Reminiscent of Paris but corridors somewhat narrower and darker, winding steps up steeper and the paintwork more chipped.

The small flat is all that we expect and could wish for. Two bedrooms (double and single), a modest dining/sitting room area off a kitchenette and a bathroom with a large shower. We are two storeys up, on the corner with views up, down and along a typical Barcelona street.

Lonely Planet is our guide. That and Google Maps and happy that we can do most of our trips on foot we are quickly out of the door.

Centre d’Arta Santa Monica

The Arts Santa Monica presents itself as the entrance to an international corporation. It is both imposing, and deserted but for a couple of receptionists at different desks. We find ourselves under a collection of huge paper drapes hanging from the ceiling with haunting folk music playing in support of a video installation. Its an ominous start in an obscure gallery we stumbled across simply was we walked from the Rambla del Raval to the marina.

A parallel world of exhibitions exploiting Google Street View

Twelve artist/photographers are featured. One of the most engaging is by the Cuban artist and photographer Ruben Torras Llorca. In his series ‘Road Movie’ he revisits famous movie locations using Google Street view and superimposes a mashed-up shot from the film. Off hand I remember: Easy Rider, Paris Texas, Zardoz and James Bond.

Google Street View and James Bond mash-up by Ruben Torras Llorca
Google Street View and Easy Rider mash-up by Ruben Torras Llorca

The most relevant and practical series Beagle 2.0 by Roger Grasas took excerpts from ‘A Naturalist’s Voyage round the world’ by Charles Darwin and revisited the spots now urbanised and too often piled with litter.

Beagle 2.0 by Roger Grasas

I’ve been doing the same with the First World War and the Western Front using Google Street view for the three volume 1938 publication ‘Then and Now’ to revisit the original pilgrimage to the Western Front 1914-1918 to 1924-1928 with a visit made by ‘The Camera Returns’ between 1982 and the present day’ and Google Street View 2014-2018.

With some cajoling, rather than heading for any of our hit list visits on our first afternoon, I got us in to the Museu Marítim. The vast and empty hall and ticket office suggests it is not a visitor to Barcelona’s priority.

This 14th century shipyard, come armaments factory was brought back to life in the early 1970s with a modern refit in the last decade. It is an impressive space that blends the gothic architecture of the original shipyard with a 21st century museum space.

Various histories are told, from the development of the shipyard and maritime trade as part of the history of Barcelona. The most revealing and shocking is to contemplate the lot of a man shackled to a bench to work out his life as a galley-slave.

There are numerous cleverly designed and revealing interest points, multi-media stations and short drama-reconstruction films.

Tired from an early start in England we ate at a very British time at a vegan choice, Rasoterra, found in Lonely Planet

Image by Rasoterra featured in Tripadvisor

It was awkward to be put next to the only couple in the place, also English. We avoided any excuse to introduce ourselves. Efforts to have us go for the tasting menu fell on deaf ears.

It was a memorable, freshly prepared meal of lovely surprises, from Seaweed Tartare, to croquettes of spinach and bao with asparagus.

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Together. The Rituals, Pleasures & Politics of Cooperation

Ditching Museum of Craft & Design is a gem. Its aesthetics, book choices and cake are amazing. It was worth joining simply to get the discount on all the books I bought.

As a budding local politician negotiating the slippery-slide of collaboration with other parties this is proving insightful. How do we get on as humans when our ideas might differ? How might we get on when our ideas overlap totally and we wish to avoid point-scoring and one up manship?

‘Cooperation is embedded in our genes, but cannot remain stuck in routine behaviour; it needs to be developed and deepened’ writes Richard Sennet in the Preface.

‘Cooperation is a craft.’ He continues, ‘It requires of people the skill and understanding and responding to another in order to act together, but this is a thorny process, full of difficulty and ambiguity and often leading to destructive consequences.’

He defines cooperation as ‘an exchange in which the participants benefit from the encounter’. He goes on to describe three types: cooperation in organise competition; cooperation in rituals spiritual and secular and cooperation that is both informal or formal.

Collusion is not cooperation.

The most important fact about cooperation is that is requires skill. Aristotle defined skill as techne, the technique of making something happen, doing it well.

Modern society, Sennett writes, is ‘de-skilling’ people in practising cooperation.

Sennett considers how the infant develops and learns to cooperate and to read its surroundings. These are life-lessons.

He uses music practice, rehearsal and performance as a metaphor. A talented musician he both played and conducted. He argues that homogeneity is dull.

Cooperation is built from the ground up.

Musicians with good rehearsal skills work forensically , investigating concrete problems.

The good listener detects common ground more in what another person assumes than says.

In everyday conversation, which is less easy to achieve online, ‘bouncing ideas off other people’; is where ‘these verbal balls land may surprise everyone’.

Curiosity figures strongly in empathy.

Life Drawing

A delight to be back with Silvia MacRae Brown at Charleston – only 2 months short of three years since I last attended. And possibly as long since I did any life drawing, though I may have had a few sessions at Sussex Arts Club.

I got through 15 ‘cheap’ sheets and a few more expensive sheets. I enjoy the rapid fire drawings and the exercises, such as drawing with you eyes closed once you have the shape in your head. I had already been taking my glasses off to see and mark shadows before adding detail.

My Mum would be proud. I always hear her tips gently spoken over my shoulder. How to observe. How to make your marks. The importance of keeping everything you do.

Sustainable Transport Lewes

(Response by Jonathan Vernon. Green Party Town Council Candidate, Castle Ward)

Lewes Cycle Planning

Bikes at the Prison Crossroads on the entry to Lewes. 5 Nov.

Leading up to 5 November parked motor vehicles disappear from the streets of Lewes and in the day during the afternoon all motor traffic clears. Imagine a Lewes like that all the year round. Imagine only pedestrians and cycle ways. Perhaps for a planned hour before the marching a parade of cyclists in fancy dress could take place to celebrate the freedom to move around the streets. Perhaps this could lead the way to changes to limit or restrict motor traffic in favour of pedestrians and cyclists.

Here we mean provision for cyclists age 8 to 80, upright on workaday bikes for shopping, going to school and commuting rather than helmeted, brightly clad racing cyclists.

To be successful a ‘Cycle City’, as they have come to be called in the Netherlands, requires a complete and comprehensive network that is both attractive and comfortable. Partial fixes, barriers and signage can just add to the clutter and confusion. Change needs to be more subtle with wider paths, cycle priority and trees as calming measures.

And some societal and cultural shift too is needed, from cafe culture to cycle culture, with shops reclaiming the streets where parking bays have been removed to allow them to create a terrace environment. The town should be one of 5 minute cycle rides, 20 minute walks and regular trains to other towns. It also needs to be a town centre that is attractive to people free of outsized motor vehicles, their noise, pollution and threat.

a) Hard measures (infrastructure: shared space, improved crossings, dedicated cycle paths removal of restrictions on cycling, traffic calming, new shared pedestrian/cycle routes, safe crossing points)

‘Every location is different, and it’s never as simple as copying and pasting their methods’, write Chris & Melissa Bruntlett in ‘Building the Cycling City’.

Lewes has many narrow, twisting streets and lanes, often with significant pinch points. Achieving the desired separation between motor vehicles and cyclists, and between cyclists and pedestrians will only be possible – some of the time, in some places by taking out parking or even reducing two-way traffic to one-way. This is the challenge for Lewes. Cyclists need a comfortable, safe journey the entire way from home to destination, not just here and there.

From ‘Design for Cycle Traffic’ John Parkin

FThere are measures though:

Enforcement of 20 mph with roundels on the road and signage.

A significant volume of large vehicles in the 20 mph zone is a deterrent to cyclists. Lorries need to do their deliveries before 7:30am, not parking up on the kerb on the High Street throughout the morning from 8:30am. Buses are a problem and a solution. Cyclists and buses should be kept apart.

Traffic can be tamed with traffic calming to make sure it travels at under 20 mph.

If there’s any major difference in speed (anything over 20 mph), then full separation is required with concrete barriers, a grass median, planter boxes, or bollards.

As we know, the 20 mph speed limit is often broke.  Living in the Winterbourne too often vehicles using the rat run between Brighton Road and Bell Lane think they can finally pick up speed along Winterbourne Lane which is already home to closely parked parked vehicles.

A277 Bright Road ‘rat run’ in and out of Lewes, morning and late afternoon rush hour via Montacute Rd, Barons Down Rd, Delaware Rd and Winterbourne Lane. Forms part of the Lewes ‘South Circular’ for people wanting to dodge snarl ups at the Prison crossroads. 

This ‘rat run’ down Montacute Road, along Barons Down Rd, Delaware Rd and Winterbourne Lane is circumvented in part by cyclists using the path between Delaware Rd and Valley Rd, just as they will use the pedestrian path through Bell Lane to St Pancras Gardens – with good reason. It isn’t only more direct, it also avoids the dangers of the mini roundabout at The Swan Inn and at the weekend the vehicles parked up on the kerb along Southover High Street.

Here, like so often in Lewes, a narrow road, with a narrow footpath, with parking bays and cars parking up over night and through the day on the single yellow lines at weekends and bank holidays, becomes quickly clogged at various points, made far worse when there are multiple double-decker replacement buses from the station trying to get along here too.

There will be similar stories right across Lewes.

Too many vehicles, large and small, pedestrians and cyclists, mixed with residential street parking and deliveries creating an environment that can be unpleasant for pedestrians, let alone cyclists trying to use the road.

Another ‘rat run’ to avoid the frequently jammed High Street is off Nevill Rd, down Prince Edward’s Rd, then dogleg down Park Rd and The Avenue onto the A2029 into the centre of town. Where else is the quality of the environment and safety for cyclists and pedestrians in residential areas being compromised because of the atrocious state of traffic on the High Street?

Avoiding the High Street to get from the West to East of town on the Lewes’s very own ‘north circular’ to avoid frequent snarl ups on the High Street, usually caused by commercial vehicles, some of them vast container lorries unsuitable for the town’s street’s parked up, or double parked or simply blocking the road.

All opportunities to improve pedestrian as well as cycle access to the centre of town need to be explored, including a foot and cycle bridge from South Street.

Motor vehicles can be banned from overtaking cycles though signage has to be clear and can be difficult to enforce legally.

After this:

Restrictions to casual parking on single yellow line kerbs especially at weekends.

Potentially reduce some street parking to make cycling safer in the already narrow roads.

If feasible limiting access by lorries to hours where cyclists are less prevalent.

The physical size, speed and frequent stopping makes it a problem for cyclists to share the road with buses.

Shared space is a last resort, ideally pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles should each have their own routes.

In France there is often a two way cycle lane on one way streets so that cyclists do not have to go the long way round.

Parts of Lewes appear suitable for mixed use where road-markings are removed and pedestrians and slow moving vehicles mixed. However it is often here that faster cyclists need a dedicated lane.

The pedestrian bridge at the Pells to be wide enough for cyclists and a second pedestrian and cycle bridge from South street across the Ouse.

Better, bolder end to end cycle parking where it is most needed. Close to amenities.

The Dutch model is for cycle tracks that are paved with an easily identified inch-thick top coat of dyed red asphalt. It’s everywhere throughout the Netherlands — you know when you’re on a cycle track. But does Lewes have the space for this? Not without restricting parking and two-way flow of traffic.

On busier roads the cycle ways need to be completely separated – anywhere the speed of motor-vehicles is over 20 mph.

The Dutch have taken the concept of the protected bike lane and carried it through the intersection. More often than not, there is physical protection on the corners where there’s cars turning right or left. There’s are often mid-block protection provided as well, so that you don’t feel exposed. The raised cycle track is also carried through the intersection. Through design, they’ve made the cycle track a priority — visually and physically. (John Parking, Designing for Cycle Traffic).

To achieve this at junctions in Lewes significant investment, even compulsory purchase orders would be required to remove walls, even buildings. This is unrealistic, therefore restricting speeds, and restricting access by certain kinds of larger vehicles is required.

Creation of clearer routes to Priory School so students can feel they can cycle from the key residential areas.

Give way junctions, roundabouts, signals and crossings all need thought.

b) Soft measures (promotion of cycling and education, driver education)

Parental support for children learning to cycle with group based support.

Have spaces where children can learn to cycle safely.

Promoting cycling in schools.

The concept of cycling starts getting introduced to a lot of kids in preschool. They’ll run around on these push bikes. But the biggest education — while it’s not mandatory throughout the country, it’s done by most schools — is students around grade four or five, in the 10 and 11 age range, start taking cycling skills courses.

Between the ages of 11 and 12 they have to take a written exam to show that they understand the rules of the road. They also do a practical exam. So, every year, dozens or hundreds of Dutch students go out onto the street and travel on their routes to get to school, on a designated pathway. The Fietsersbond, which is their national cycling advocacy group, puts the kids right in real life situations, navigating their streets, knowing when to turn, how to signal, where to stop. (John Parkin, Designing for Cycle Traffic).

Known for closing the centre of town temporarily for marches could this be done to celebrate cycling and have a cycle route circuit.

PR and Social Media Campaign, and online education.

Initiatives such as ‘Car Free Sunday’, even ‘Car Free Sunday Mornings’ would be a start.

Also ideas promoted such as ‘Bike to Shop Day’, ‘Bike to School Day’ and ‘Bike to Work Day’.

c) Current reality – speeding traffic (above 20mph), increase in vehicles using Lewes as a through route and increases in traffic from new developments in town, inappropriate and dangerous parking and close passing often result in dangers to cyclists (and pedestrians)

This reality needs to be tackled firmly. Only at 20mph or less does it feel safe for cyclists to share the road. Though this doesn’t feel any safer where there are a lot of larger vans, lorries and buses. The real need is for a Rapid Transit System linking up Lewes and Ringmer to Brighton. ‘Cars parked here will be removed’ is a sign I have come across that needs to be used around Lewes.

All roads that are one way for motor vehicle traffic should be two way for cyclists.

d) Perceptions that roads are unsafe is one of the main barriers to cycling

The perceptions are real. Unfortunately Lewes suffers from too much traffic, including large vehicles and narrow streets made worse for dual used because of parking provision. Do away with all street parking and a cycle lane could go in – but that would surely prove unpopular and impossible to enact. The incessant replacement bus services has double decker buses forever on Southover High Street and Bell Lane. Vehicles of this size, like the vast freight lorries that sometimes end up in the wrong place, are unsuitable for Lewes Roads.

Convenient, easy and attractive cycleways from somewhere to somewhere – not tokenism. They must be relevant to real travel needs. From homes to schools, to stations, bus stops, shops, the Leisure Centre, Pells Pool and cinema.

With secure parking and signage.

e) Would you campaign for greater investment in cycling to ensure that 10% of the transport budget was spent on cycling?

It has required ‘courageous political leadership’ elsewhere to overturn urban planning of the 60s and 70s and since that has favoured the motorcar. Lewes was saved from having its centre carved out to make way for a wider through road down the High Street. Even the bypass is a comprise too close to town that blights us with noise pollution. Something has to be done to reduce single occupant vehicle use clogging the streets, not least the vehicles coming in to the ESCC buildings as well as measures to dissuade so many parents from driving their children to our local schools that are a short cycle or walk away.

Include pedestrians as well as cycling as two valuable alternatives to the motor vehicle which both ideally requiring separate paths and cycle ways.

f) How would you support the building and maintenance of dedicated cycle infrastructure, reallocate space, redesign of existing road and paths suitable for cyclists of all ages and abilities.

This is a very tall order for Lewes. We are not designing on a flat greenfield site. The challenges in Lewes are considerable because of its history and infrastructure and too much planning in the 1960s and since that put the motor vehicle first.

Getting the volume of traffic down is key, and getting fewer large vehicles too when cyclists want to be out. Seeing the ESCC move to Polegate might reduce incoming traffic to an in town car park … or site this on the edge of town and have a park and walk/cycle scheme at both ends of town.

g) What local action would you support?

The issues with motor vehicles are multifarious : speeds, pollution, volume, size, parking …

Dutch experience: We make a differentiation between the hunched-and-helmeted cyclist and the upright, bare-headed cyclist. Upright, everyday cycling, a form of walking-with-wheels, is far more broad, inclusive, accessible, and appealing to people of all ages and fitness levels. It isn’t just about getting from A to B as quickly as possible, it’s about enjoying the ride.

h) How should the Councils use the experience of cyclists when designing cycle facilities?

The behaviours of cyclists even where they are ignoring restrictions, like pedestrians taking shortcuts indicate a potential solution to a problem rather than something to police and punish.

There are lessons to be learnt from around the UK, but also in Denmark and the Netherlands. New housing and work spaces need to be designed with pedestrians and cycle use prioritized over the motor vehicle.

As well as cyclists, we need to talk to pedestrians as those on foot, on bikes or in motor vehicles need to be given separate provision and as often as possible kept apart.

Further Reading

Presenting Planet EStream to Trainee Teachers

I recently took a class of 12 PGCE Level Two Teacher Trainees on a tour of Planet eStream.

It was a class on elearning tools, so they got some mind mapping with SimpleMinds, the 360 tour creator ThingLink and WordPress blogging too. They were jsut as insterested in these so more sessions are needed.

Becoming a champion for this TV, Video, multi-media educational platform I found I could introduce, demonstrate, elaborate, answer problems and queries and even get them signed in. The hope is to achieve the same with current tutors and educators so that the amount of elearning were provide increases greatly.

A number of things have got me here:

  • Having the time to push the boundaries of the different parts of the Planet eStream platform with close to authentic learning challenges, rather than some random ‘giving it a go’.
  • Having colleagues and friendly teachers to practice on in small groups until I was ready for something bigger.
  • Taking ownership of the class. Therefore having my own ‘session plan’ and the means to follow this.

There is a lot to get through simply to promote the variety of things the platform can do to support teaching, in particular to create a ‘flipped classroom’.

I began with a story. How I got out of corporate training and information films and started at a web agency trying and failing to get broadcast TV content online for Ragdoll.

Finding out what subjects the trainee teachers would be teaching I also wondered where they saw themselves on this spectrum and explained a little about ‘Diffusion of Innovation Theory’ in relation to constant change and attitudes to new technology, software, applications and upgrades and how this manifests itself in the classroom as people who embrace the new and others who reject it all. 

I like these simple, bold images, charts or mindmaps to cue an item I want to talk about. In the shorter lesson I skipped much of my introduction and this and got straight into Planet eStream. I think it works better with the context.

The demos I have created included taking an episode of Sheldon, lifting out the long commercial break in the middle and ‘topping and tailing’ either end. I then ‘cut’ it into 7 ‘chapters’ that isolated Sheldon’s story from the other characters. Each ‘sketch’ runs for less than a minute. I find these micro-experiences are ideal tasters rather than dissecting a 48 minute Horizon documentary. 

I also used a less than 2 minute long clip from a 1981 edition of Tomorrow’s World where the Carry On comedian Kenneth Williams presented. Once again, the demonstration is short and memorable. I ought to find others for a younger audience. Does Oli Murs do a demonstration? What about a clip from Blue Peter 2019?

Other examples of how Planet eStream works included ‘grabbing’ the radio series ‘The Secret History of a School’ in ten parts. each under 15 minutes. Here I created an added a suitable ‘Thumbnail’ for each episode to distinguish each visually.

What I could not do in either session. This we need a morning, afternoon or evening workshop, was to do something in real time, not just find a programme or upload from YouTube, but then edit this piece, create a playlist or make an interactive quiz. These are all straightforward to learn skills.

I’m writing this is part of my habitual reflection. Just as I kept a diary here almost every day of my MAODE plus the two further modules that I did, I have now kept a diary for most working days of the 12 months I have been here are GB MET.

Taking these classes I finally feel a ‘change career’ I began in 2000 is going in the right direction. Back then it was from corporate training and information films to online. Then with my MAODE 2010 to 2013 it temporarily went into tertiary education with the OU but in a communications rather than a learning role. Since then there has been more corporate e-learning, even a further history degree and a digital editor’s role, but it is this., however modest, like a private in the army, like a private in the Labour Corps even, I am working with students and teachers.

Sitting in a class assessing where technology has a role is interesting too. More on this in my next post. 

A Restless Mind

A third MA completed and within a month I am taking two MOOCs with FutureLearn, giving an hour a day to fixing my inadequate written French, once again contemplating a PhD and progressing with an MEd module through Coursera on Instructional Design.

If my day jobs were suitably stimulating I suppose I’d need none of the above.

Asked by my wife if I could be doing any paid job in the world right now what would it be I said directing a musical featuring kids or teeanagers. A sort of Cirque de Soleil science-fantasy set to music.

Would it surprise readers to learn that in 2002 I was diagnosed as ADHD?

I don’t resist it, I run with it. Result? A jack of all trades? Though evidentially I am a Master of some, though never enough. An MA in Fine Art calls my name still, as does playing the guitar and sailing well enough to be in the top three in a race rather than the final three or DNC.

How and why educators and learning institutions need to move more rapidly towards putting the student, not their practices and egos, first.

(These reflections are based on a re-reading of a 2008 article by Grainne Conole)

There is an inherent tension between the rhetoric of Web 2.0 and current educational practices.

Expectations in the first decade of the 21st century have barely been realised in the second decade, despite educational tools and platforms vying for space. The surprise is the consolidation evidenced by the likes of G Suite for Education and Google Classroom, the rise of the educator as celebrity, for example the presenter and co-creator of the Coursera MOOC Barbara Oakley and the slow transcendence from the dross of some highly effective learning Apps, such as the very different LingVist and Tandem for language learning.

The human brain and how we learn must be better understood and applied in e-learning design. Speed, immediacy, volume and complementarity which make up much of what is digital needs to accommodate a human learning process that is slow, cumulative, experimental, experiential and organic.

At a time when educators (teachers, lectures, coaches and tutors) require more time to consider the opportunities and challenges of education 2.0 their hours are being curtailed. Instead of participating in the choice of platforms, tools and pedagogies, teachers are being told what tools and platforms to use, with decisions taken by non-teaching IT and managers. If mismanaged, the autonomy and choices which give the teacher ownership of their teaching environment is being eroded especially if they find themselves leaning on IT and learning technologist. This relationship and approach to the creation of course content needs to become a collaborative rather than an individual one. However across education this requires a significant culture shift.

Whilst a decade ago there was a plethora of newly emerging tools and platforms these are consolidating through ownership and a tendency towards duplication of best practices. Certain platforms have come to dominate, what is more, to keep things simple, manageable and affordable, institutions pick and choose between a consolidating field of tools and platforms. In turn, the student experience far from being expansive is limited, albeit with platforms and tools that share familiar and transferable digital methods.

It is sensationalist to suggest there is any ‘peril’, rather there are lost opportunities that other cultures and societies may be quicker to adopt and take advantage of such as in South Korea, Singapore and even India, rather than in the West, in Britain in particular, where the educational models and institutions are wedded to the Victorian era.

The greatest challenge is not a digital one, but a human one. New roles for teachers and new roles entirely and how these morph and coalesce into a new more collaborative working environment is the challenge. Just as disruptive technologies in retail and music put the client experience first, so too must the student/client experience be put first and systems created and adjusted around their needs, rather than both students and teachers having to accommodate themselves to the systems they are told to adopt.

How to compose rainbow sentences

Rainbow
‘How to compose rainbow sentences’ is how I am putting it, though the range of colours is not seven, but four: red, blue, green and purple.
From the moment I entered the classroom Tony made me feel welcome despite my unease, even embarrassment at how few people there were.
I quickly felt that two things were going to happen – I would observe and take part in the perfect classroom experience and I’d go away informed and perhaps even I inspired. Perhaps my intention to gen up on teaching practice was a wise move after all.
I wished from the start that I had been recording every word.
Though it was an informal chat before the class Tony was bubbling. When I said that I was a ‘Learning Technologist’ – an intermediary between the tutors and students supporting and introducing the use of digital software and hardware, he took the hook and ran with it while one or two more people took their seats.
I did not take adequately clear notes to understand his example of how a class had worked with wikis to work collaboratively on an answer to a task.
His tantalizing offer to help me abolish hand in dates was being put to the wrong person – I may appreciate the need to have and to create deadlines, but that’s not my role.
It became more clear when I said that I was a ‘Learning Technologist’ – describing myself as an intermediary between the tutors and students supporting and introducing the use of digital platforms and tools, from Google Classroom to Apps, VR and AR, blogs and video.
Tony took this information and ran with it for a while as one or two more people took their seats.
The introductory phase was subtle and engaging. It had me expectant. It felt to me that had I been the only person to turn up, that given both his personality and professionalism, Tony would have been utterly prepared to deliver the best class possible regardlessly. There were four of us to start with – a fifth appeared a little later.
My colleagues were from Uniformed Services (two of them), early years teaching and fashion & textiles.
We were asked about induction: what it entailed, for how long it went on and when we knew it had been done. is it complete in an afternoon or day, a week or two. Should students be up to speed by the second week? He suggested that too much of induction was box ticking.
Tony took a sideways step, literally, to introduce the metaphor of ‘crossing the carpet’ – of getting students both physically and mentally into a different place. By way of example he talked of music students who began their new college on day one reasonably diversified and very much their parents’ son or daughter who within two weeks were almost all in the uniform of black jeans and black T-shirts with a developing array of exciting hairstyles’ cuts and colours. They had both physically and mentally changed. It is the phrase ‘changing behaviours’ that was like a new ABBA tune to my ears. I have done, and bought into the theory of education and can equate to it personally in relation to the CBT I have done.
Tony concluded this part of the session by praising the Newcastle College which ran an eight week extended induction that expected students to been on board by the first week after half-term.
The vital lesson to be understood from this is that preparing students for study pays dividends rather than rushing in to deliver course content.
The four teachers amongst the five of us were asked how much time they spent helping students who got behind and marking assessments. From his experience, not countered by the group, 5-7 hours a week could be spent one to one helping those who were getting behind and far much more time spent marking homework. Much to my embarrassment he said that I (the learning technologist) was the answer to this problem and could therefore give them back some of the invaluable contact time with the students. (Have I understood that and expressed it correctly?)
Crafting evidence-based opinion
We did three exercises and with each one improved our skills and confidence at writing an evidence-based sentence. The technique taught was to use four-colours to identify the required components. The object of the sentence, or ‘vocational term’ was blue. The evaluation of the object, or judgement is red. The detail and opinion is in green. The clincher (as I would put it) or ‘impact’ is purple.
To undertake this series of exercises, each carefully crafted and scaffolded, we began by viewing and reviewing an ancient and somewhat laughable video of The Beach Boys singing ‘I Get Around’. We then had to complete a ‘fill in the blanks’ exercise where the kind of word we would use was denoted by a line in one of the above colours whilst selecting from an appropriate word from a list.
In first exercise (of three) we had to consider the audio performance.
I came up with:
The close harmony is excellent, the vocal intonation is perfect and the use of vocal double tracking creates a rich wash of sound that adds an exciting exuberance to the audio performance.
In the second exercise, cranking up the opportunity to be more judgemental, we had to consider the visual performance. Once again we had a set of vocational terms, judgement words, opinion and impact words.
I came up with:
The visual performance is however embarrassingly poor. The blocking and staging of the shots make the individual performances appear self-conscious and embarrassing. Discrepancies in foot tapping and the out of phase bouncing of the individual performers spoils the sense of a United groove. This is made comical by the bouncing of the vehicle on which two of the performers are sitting.
For the final exercise we turned the page and we faced with the scary emptiness of a large blank space without only part of the scaffolding we had had before. We had what was described as a resource to use or ignore : a set of words denoted by colour.
We were asked how we felt going into this exercise and were prompted with ‘scary’. Perhaps we should have been prompted to speak up and use the very technique being taught. I jotted down. ‘Thrilled – like stepping out onto a football pitch to play a game after ha,f an hour of practice’. Though the actual image that came to mind was more about prepping for some theatrical improvisation and then stepping up onto the stage.
We were the asked to review Massbetelnut’s version of ‘i get around’. This very quickly had us all splitting our sides with laughter.
I wrote:
The band performed like bees caught in a beer glass. The performances were individually and collectively ridiculous – more like a Monty-Python sketch. The re-imagined sound dub was ingeniously crafted to reduce all those watching it to tears of asthmatic laughter.

Virtual Reality in College Education

These interactive images look appealing as a learning tool. They pull together a series of short, quirky videos and animations that provide the low down on a collection of human organs. To what end? To some degree a Dorling Kindersley annotated book did this in the past. Stick it on an interactive screen and click on each in front of a class to fill 45 minutes. What is really required as a learning experience is to have students learn the skills to create these themselves, then research and add the links (or to shoot their own pieces). All of the above came from YouTube.

Here’s the link: https://www.thinglink.com/scene/880832510185963521

We use ThingLink.

The difference is that I am using 360 images that can be viewed through a VR headset, or desktop or touchscreen.

Here is my ThingLink VR Tour of Northbrook Theatre: https://www.thinglink.com/mediacard/1073243716732321794

I am working with the College team here to create an immersive experience for induction. Do we add multiple hotspots of information, like this Human Body above, and follow this up with a detailed quiz, or do we clone the tour and get students to add the information themselves? Should we give them the skills to use the 360 camera and get them to annotate it? OFSTED would like us to be developing their Digital Skills and using English.

The VR Tours I have so far initiated include the following. These are being used for marketing purposes so are in the public domain. If you get sent down a ‘blind alley’ or a link is missing or obscure please let me know and I’ll fix it 🙂 

An Aeronautics Workshop

Aeronautics VR

Learning Resource Centre (LRC) & Library

LRC1 WDurrington

Catering

Catering VR

Motor Vehicle Workshop : Shoreham 

Motor Vehicle Mechanics

Motor Vehicle Workshop : Brighton

Motor Vehicle Workshops MET Brighton

Hair Salon & Treatment Centre

Hair Salon

Carpentry Workshop

Carpentry VR

End of Year Fine Arts & 3D show

EYS Fine Art 3D

Creative Industries Theatre Props & Set Dressing Show

Creative Industries Theatre Props

Northbrook Student Theatre

Northbrook Theatre VRjpg

To get the education right I need to go back through some of the MAODE modules I did, for example, H818 ‘The Networked Practitioner’.

With my MA in British History of the First World War complete (the dissertation went off on 9 July) I am seriously contemplating the next piece of learning which includes adding to two 30 credit ‘spare’ modules I did having completed the MAODE in 2013 that I could potentially build into an MEd.

That or hunker down and specialise on Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality in learning.

 

 

 

360 Virtual Reality Tour of Northbrook Theatre

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