From the start of the Open University postgraduate master’s module H818: The Networked Practitioner I’ve aggregated screen grabs and photos into a dedicated album in Google+ ‘Picasa Web Gallery’. This, as a resource and aid memoir, also received copies of images from other albums, including the another two albums on elearning that contain some 3000 images from the six MAODE modules that I have done over the last four years and from other albums on the First World War and specific museum visits, including: the Museum of London, the Great North Museum, the Design Museum, the ‘In Flanders Fields’ and ‘Talbot House’ in Belgium, as well as inspiration and insights from the Picaso and Miro Museums in Barcelona and Alcatraz in the Bay of St.Francisco.
|From E-Learning III|
My interest in museums is lifelong and something emanating from them or to support them had been an intended topic for my last MAODE module H809. My interest in the First World War is also lifelong, fed by my late grandfather, a veteran of that conflict who lived into his 97th year – long enough to attend various events to mark the 75th anniversaries of the Battle of Passchendaele where he served as a machine gun corporal and the formation of the Royal Air Force as he had transferred to the Royal Flying Corps at the very end of 1917. Given the approaching centenary of the 1914-18 War I took the decision to enhance and formalise my understanding of the conflict with an MA in British First World War studies at the University of Birmingham. I further justify this by valuing the insight of doing a ‘traditional’ though part-time MA that requires attendance at lectures, and a substantial amount of reading – even from books, some of these a century old and getting a taste for another institution’s online offering. Here are my mashed up notes from a lecture on reviewing a text.
First ideas were around the use of QStream, a platform with its origins in supporting junior doctors in North America to pass tough written tests of their knowledge. Simply shoehorning in an idea rather than seeing what needs exist, or problems there are, say with museum or battlefield visits isn’t to be recommended. It was necessary therefore to try out for myself some of the mobile guides, for example City Walks.
I knew from experience the year before that QR codes had been used in the Digital Crystal exhibition at the Design Museum – efforts failed here as the promised free wi-fi didn’t work. A visit to the Museum of London was more satisfactory though throughout my visit I never saw anyone use them – spoilt for a wealth of activities and options, including touch screen interactive and computer consoles alongside many tactile and engaging ways to enjoy the exhibits perhaps rendered them redundant.
Most treasured visits to museums include the Royal Academy of Arts where my mother took my daughter, then 12/13 under her wing. I was also impressed by the quality of the audio guide at Alcatraz that featured the voices of inmates and prison officers.
Reading I do always includes some kind of note taking; how I achieve this using digital tools varies. A significant, if not most of my learning is done via an iPad. Experimentation and habit has me use Kindle tools to highlight, tab and add notes that I later review and grab, while with papers I typically do a number of things: cut and paste a Harvard reference into my OU Student Blog which I use as an ePortfolio, as well as saving into RefWorks, while downloading the paper to a dedicated module folder. Rather than take notes, which I may do in front of a computer or very rarely these days onto paper, I will, as here, highlight and grab then later annotate and potentially post with notes and tags into a blog.
My established habit is to deconstruct a task into its component parts – in this case an early step towards a ‘multi-media artefact’ using SimpleMinds, a favourite App that I have on the iPad and Mac-Mini.
This detailed mindmap was an early step in assembling a ten minute presentation I gave on OULive on Monday on the potential and pitfalls of using Quick Response codes in education. Its next iteration was as a Prezi. It was ultimately delivered as a PowerPoint consisting of eight or nine slides.
Here I took some of my grandfather’s photographs and mashed them up using the apps ‘Studio’ – a graphics/sharing app and ‘Brushes’ – the iPad ‘painting’ app favoured by David Hockney. Together these allowed me to assemble layers of photographs, text and graphics so that I could express an idea visually.
At some stage I had the idea of putting a Quick Response in a Royal British Legion Poppy – as much for the promotional grab of the image as the practicalities of doing so.
In a module titled ‘The Networked Practitioner’ that is part of the Open University’s ‘Masters of Arts in Open and Distance Education’ the prompt to use, indeed the necessity to at least try a variety of sharing platforms is inevitable. Within the ‘walled garden’ there were module, student and tutor forums, OpenStudio, and wikis, while managed exposure beyond these walls included use of Cloudworks and the Open University student blogging platform. My own extensive use of external platforms includes blogging since 1999, and has developed to include: Linkedin, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, WordPress, Flickr, YouTube, Stumbleupon, Pinterest and others. Flickr and blogging has brought me to the attention of the BBC and National Trust, as well as individuals able to support my specific interest here on the First World War: a blogger in Belgium, the grandson of a veteran, a local historian in Hastings, a post doctoral researcher at King’s College, London, an author writing on the First World War for the National Trust, the Western Front Association who have published my grandfather’s story and a researcher and subsequently the BBC to feature in a story in their ‘People and Places’ series.
Picking a Creative Commons copyright attribution only came after slides had been submitted to the presentation coordinator. Even once having reduced the number of slides proposed and having greatly simplified the images to be shown the need would then ideally to have added the CC as yet another layer onto these images – all the more reason to leave this task to the end once I had reduced some 32 images down to 8. Further simplification would be to restrict my use of images to my own photographs, charts and drawings. An attribution I may have circumvented is to acknowledge or link to Apps such as ‘Studio’ and ‘Brushes’ while I find it all too easy to lose track of where an image was sourced given how many screen grabs I do and photographs I take every day.
Future plans would be to expand the thinking expressed in the OULive presentation to include a platform such as QStream that feeds by email spaced repetitions on a subject. I imagine a teacher, rather than the secondary school student, assembling a ‘cheat sheet’ of key facts as a revision sheet that is then offered back to them on their phone until, literally, they ‘have it in their heads’. This I base not only on the idea that managing our inclination to forget is a necessary part of formal learning but that only once you have aggregated enough ‘stuff’ on a topic in the brain can it be expected to make its contribution by enabling you to answer exam questions, but also by offering and allowing you to formulate your own ideas.