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Working in the clouds


Fig. 1. Study of Clouds, John Constable. Inscribed 31 Sept.r 10-11 O’Clock.

Constable did little else but paint the weather from July through to October 1822, which is why curators can accurately say that the artist did this painting on the 1st October.

I’ve shared my frustrations with Cloudworks from the start of the OLDS MOOC 2013 … and had some experience a year ago on H807 Innovations in E-learning … so entered the cloud with a sense of dread.

I stuck at it and found some odd ways in.

What mattered was the contact with people I got to know – as they gave up it became inevitable that I would do so too, not least because I had more pressing matters. H809 a postgraduate module, partially produced by the same team as it comes from the Open University stable, but a very different beast.

More like getting on a bus with four to five stops a week.

A weekend for an assignment every five weeks and a longer sojourn to produce a short dissertation at the end. Four tutors groups each with less than sixteen people in each.

I liken my Cloudworks experience to Freshers’ Fair … every day of the week.

Every time I came in I wondered around getting interested in what other people were doing, sometimes landing their by mistake. So a Fresher’s Fair with some 12 entry doors on several floors with the people behind each stall mostly changing too. Your brain gets tired of the overload, the lack of landscape and in this sense ‘Cloudscape’ is the right term, for the wrong reasons. A ‘Freshers’ Fair’ is when students invite the entire new intake at a university to come and see what societies are on offer – imagine the equivalent of several village halls, with stalls manned by students, offering everything from ballroom dancing to neuroscience, Pooh Sticks Society to the Conservative Association, Bikers to Chess.

I took some pictures of this Constable painting ‘Study of Clouds’ in the Ashmolean Museum when I was in Oxford on Friday.

What was I doing in Oxford. Hankering after ‘the real thing’ – a chance to meet and talk with some people in the flesh, this at a talk on Virtual Worlds in Japanese at the Centre of Social and Cultural Anthropology hosted by the Oxford Internet Institute.

After a while, all this online stuff has you eager to meet like-minds in person.

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