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Immersive Learning

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12th April 2011

I was hopeless at languages but knew that going on a French exchange would do the job; it did I had three weeks in France, then he had three weeks back in England and the friends I made in France had me back for seven weeks over the summer, camping and hitchhiking. Then a gap year working in a busy four star hotel.

Immersive learning, learning by default.

I didn’t expect to feel this way about my MA course. I’ve had some intensive days online, but I know find myself challenged my entire waking day, whether online or not.

I am in the university town of Milton Keynes; I’ll call it that, because my perspective it is. I’m in a house that has five students in it, and it transpires there are houses up and down the road that do the same thing.

I get up and read on my Kindle.

I’m just about through Chris Pegler on Blended Learning (recommended). I walk in with a mechanical engineer and then spend the day in meetings at the OU Faculty of Business and Law on how it is received online, from students, assistant lecturers (tutors) and fellow academics and prospective candidates.

I have lunch in ‘The Hub’ and cannot help but overhear what sounds like an impromptu tutorial on genetics. And then I register at the OU library and enjoy that distraction of wondering the shelves, then as you approach the title you want you discover a couple of other items that could be of interest. Can serendipity be written into the code of someone studying online? It’s preferable to the ‘Amazon Recommends’. (Too pushy)

I return to the house and find myself engaged in the content of a thesis on how teams collaborate in creative activities.

Were the first universities at all akin to this?

Bologna in the 11th century, students staying in the town, in lodgings.

(Had I been at home there would have been several distractions. One person here says how she gets away from home so that she can work on her thesis. Do you require space to learn, just as authors need space to write? Who was it who said you need periods of nothing at all before you could write anything original?)

I need now to engage with the MAODE.

After a two and a half hour discussion on the value of blogging and other social networks in education I wonder if I have the mental energy or desire to do any more. I feel that I can knock a few holes in my head and rather like draining the milk from a coconut just give my head a shake over the keyboard.

A week ago I put ‘the contents of my brain’ online, either in dropbox, or Google docs, on the ou e-portfolio My Stuff, even here … a blog is as good a place as any to store content. Just go tag crazy so that you can find it.

How to encourage others to blog?

Recommend some great academic, student orientated blogs. Martin Weller’s name came up. I’d recommend Doug Belshaw from the JISC. Then there’s Terry O’Sullivan on marketing. And Les Budd.

As I come across others (and locate the links for the above), I’ll offer more.

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