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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.

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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.

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

Another 360 VR Tour

A morning spent taking some 80 VR 360 shots across Northbrook Theatre and an afternoon beginning to stitch them together. I relax with a trip down to Hope Gap to take further shots under the chalk cliffs looking east down the coast to the Seven Sisters, Birling Gap and Beechy Head.

18 years regularly taking shots along here and plenty to show the way the cliffs erode and collapse.

X 500 360 VR Stills and counting

The number of 360 images I have shot over the last six weeks approaches 500. On top of this add 200 mid and extreme close ups and 100 video clips.

360s on a Ricoh Theta SC.

Stills on a Sony Alpha 7 that delivers the most delicious results..

These being stitched together into some 12 interactive VR tours.

Production practices and workflow of any production company or agency with the 21st century digital bonus of being able to overshoot and experiment extensively.

All content transferred to a Google Photo account as soon as shot. Unless I resist the temptation these are further colour corrected in Adobe Lightroom (stills) before labelling and uploading to ThingLink. Then the tapestry takes form. There can be 12 to 50 360 images in a set and however many links and ‘hot spots’ I care to add.

All to create engaging promotion, immersive learning and ‘spaced’ and ‘just in time’ learning.

Covering Student End of Year Shows in 360

Art Collage

Continuing coverage of the summer at GB MET show at Durrington.

The pattern that is emerging is to cover the ground, each exhibition room and some corridors with a 360 still image, then return to take mid-shots and extreme close-ups. As I find the language for covering an exhibition I also use 360 video.

The pattern is to cover a room, on the self-timer at 5 to 10 seconds, then return first with a standard lens and then using a close-up lens for fine detail. Everything is manually set to try and negotiate very different lighting conditions. Much of the lighting is mixed source, between bright, low or no sunlight, with neon or other artificial lighting. The 360 camera offers various White Balance settings. Shutter speeds are generally kept low so that if someone wanders into a shot (rare) they will be out of focus in any case. Exposure is therefore adjusted by the ISO.

All the images using the standard digital camera are RAW.

All the 360 images are transferred to an iPad mini which operates the 360 camera remotely. All the images on the iPad are backed up in Google Photos. All these images, those chosen to use at least, will then be colour corrected in Adobe Lightroom, then uploaded into ThingLink and stitched together into a Virtual Reality Tour.

Some ‘establishing shots’ or just reminders of the rooms or corridors I am in are shot on my iPhone. It might be better to use the iPad for these and keep the images saved on a college device and in my college Google Gallery.

‘Hotspots’ will feature a random mixture of mid-shots and close-ups. The issue with VR is that the ability to zoom is lost as soon as you overlay ‘tags’ and ‘hot spots’ and the definition is reduced with the zoom too which counters the way we step in to take a closer look to see greater detail, not to have it obscured.

The coverage is somewhat random as I am not in position either to be comprehensive (cover all items in all sizes) or to be selective (I don’t know the student, the tutor or the department).

The simplest guidance I get is to cover the Degree graduate programme. Armed with a plan of the site I pick all of these off over two days. The Richoh Theta 360 camera runs for around 6 hours, but can overheat and shut down. It takes 4 hours to charge. At times a second 360 camera would be handy. With the self-timer I can get well-out of shot though I have learnt to leave the iPad within a 4m range so that the link is not lost. Once activates the camera will still take a picture however once lost the signal has to be reset via the WiFi connection, or sometimes by turning the camera on and off again.

 

Take risks and do not worry about getting it right first time eu

So advises Google as you undertake 12 hours of self-directed online learning to become a certified educator – Level 1.

Easy said, harder to fulfill if you are being overlooked by your employer, scrutinized by your peers and exposed to unsympathetic and potentially cruel students.

Are Texting, keyboards and touch screens to blame for terrible handwriting?

 

ED3A1087-BB91-4BE7-8C46-A04754DC39DD

 

It’s generational, but those of us brought up with handwriting competitions at school and handwritten essays and the written examination are judgmental of a generation who apparently have terrible handwriting and can’t spell.

Do they need to? They can touch type – can you? Faced with a sheet of paper and a pen to write an essay they may struggle to be legible and make spelling mistakes – but how often do they do that, or will they need to that.

Isn’t it like complaining in the 8th century that scribes would be rubbish with a chisel putting their words in stone.

The goal is everything – clear communication. Doesn’t technology deliver this?

Facilitators of learning rather than a teachers

Teachers will tell you never to take away teaching time, that they are hard pressed to deliver all the required course work as it is. If you want to involved ‘Technology Enhanced Learning’ (TEL) that it needs to during added hours.

The OU has taken up with Google’s philosophy of more ‘facilitator-led learning’ with those teachers who create the courses elevated in status, while everyone else takes on what they may see as a diminished role. Or an apprenticeship role before they too become writers of content.

I am putting it too crudely. Teachers do hours of planning to carry the hours of ‘taught hours’ that they deliver. If they are able to teach may more by including the indirect experience of learning online then this may, in some measure, begin to cater for the millions around the world who want a secondary or tertiary education but don’t have access to one.

IMAGE: Working in small groups to correct copyrights and Non-NPOV violations. Photo by Shani Evenstein (שני אבנשטיין), freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

IMAGE: Medical English student (Group 2) uploading photograph related to their field into Wikimedia Commons

IMAGE:  Children with iPads by  Wesley Fryer 

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