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Peace in pieces

Fig. 1. Poster commemorating the bombing of Hiroshima for Japan, 1985. Ivan Chermayeff, de la warr pavilion, Bexhill.

Trip FIVE to this exhibition, this time with my brother-in-law, is imminent. What I adore about exhibitions here is that they are ‘bitesize’ and smart; they are a perfect ‘mind burst’. They are the ideal repeat show too as with each visit you see more, and see differently … and are influenced of course by the person you are with.

The right image says what each viewer sees in it.

This idea naturally translates into any and every conflict we see today: MH17, fractured and not yet stuck together, the Middle East utterly smashed into dust – I have this visual in my head of Hanukkah Lamp, the smoke from which forms a fractured map of Israel and Palestine.

From E-Learning IV

From a learning point of view to start with a poster such as this is to follow Robert Gagne theory of learning design; also the natural skill of storytellers and good communications: get their attention.

Facebook Positivity Challenge

Fig.1. United Kingdom and Ireland

Prompted by nieces and my sister I have now joined the Facebook ‘Positivity’ challenge.

You post three positive things a day for five days then nominate three others to do the same. I have written 15 ‘Positivities’ already and will adjust and prioritize each day. My wife, Great Britain and learning something everyday (with a plug for the Open University) got a mention today. When I was eleven or twelve I pencilled in all the counties of England, Scotland and Wales where I had visited – parents divorced and living in Cumbria and Northumberland got that one started, with cousins in County Durham and North Yorkshire, and then trips to Scotland and Lincolnshire, London and Oxfordshire. The rule was I had to spend a night in the county. Before I’d taken a look at the above map (and not taking into consideration boundary changes) I guessed that bar a few counties I had stayed in all: largely as work producing training and information videos has had me on overnights all over the shop (nuclear power industry, manufactures, retailers, Post Office, pharmaceuticals …), and Northern Ireland courtesy of a girlfriend of 18 months. Looking again I think I could add that I’ve never stayed in Essex, nor many of the Welsh Counties (or valleys), a couple still in Northern Ireland and probably a couple in North Eastern Scotland even if I have driven through. I started the same kind of thing on the 98 departements of France and guess that I’ve ‘done’ a good fifty, once again, thanks as much to TV work repeatedly travelling to far-flung, non-touristy destinations for a TV news agency I worked for. I miss travelling.

A few years ago I took up the challenge of posting a photo a day in Blipfoto; I took this one step further and determined, with the need for some criteria for editing a day’s pictures, to posting something ‘to feel good about’ – this task is similar, though potentially more abstract if the idea, rather than the image comes first.

Don’t make it easy

Fig. 1 Some ideas from the Ivan Chermayeff ‘Cut and Paste’ exhibition at the De La Warr, Bexhill

As photography isn’t allowed instead of moving from the gallery with my iPhone or camera clicking at everything and anything that caught my eye I was obliged to get out a sketch pad. Just as Ivan Chermayeff says in a exhibition video ‘most people don’t know how to see’.

We risk making everything too easy with e-learning: photos, screengrabs, instant research, transcripts of video, video as audio only or highlights or summaries thanks to others.

The above ideas were for:

a) A School of Visual Arts talk he was giving with a colleague

b) Arthritis – with letters torn from a type font catalogue and jumbled around

c) Mother and Child in modern art – a signal Magritte or Matisse like cut out.

What I would have missed entirely, and I do it no justice here, is a collage of tickets and seating allocation to the inauguration of John F Kennedy on the 20th January 1961. (Before my time, I’d been conceived a few weeks before at a New Year’s Eve party. Not even I can remember that far back).

Fig.2 Sketch of an Ivan Chermayeff collage/poster using bits and pieces from attendance at the inaugurations of US President J F Kennedy

What do you understand by the word ‘curation’? What does it mean in relation to content online?

Fig.1. Bristol Fighter at the Imperial Museum

My understanding of curation is embedded in museums – I overheard the curator of the current Superhuman exhibition at the Wellcome Foundation Museum being interviewed by Aleks Krotovski on Tuesday.

When I took a picture using my iPad a member of the museum staff  politely told me that ‘the curator asked that people did not take pictures’ (and that the curator was in part to blame as he hadn’t wanted the signage saying ‘don’t take pictures’ too prominent) – curator as stage manager and executive producer of a collection of themed objects. The term ‘object’ itself embracing stills, artefacts, video-clips and activities. You curate stuff in a space and set parameters so that an audience of visitors can get their head around what, in effect, has come the curator’s mind.

In the bizarre ways that these things happen I recall, age six at most, creating a fossil museum with ammonites found in the low rocky cliffs of Beadnell, Northumberland.

I was a curator, I brought together a themed collection of rocks, set them out in a room and invited people in – no doubt in the back of my mind imagining the glass cabinets and displays in the Hancock Museum, Newcastle.

Ian McGreggor of the British Museum with his History of the World in 100 objects is a curator – far more so than an amateur’s eclectic collection of e–stuff. Or am I being a 20th century snob? Craving for academic elitism that is fast vanishing down the plug–hole as the digtal ocean and equally digital–cloud washes and blows over everything? I search that externalised part of my own mind, an extensive blog 13 years in the writing, for what I’ve said or stumbled upon before regarding ‘curation’ and find three entries, one prompted by my intention to attend this session in Bath and feeding off a visit to the De le Warr, Bexhill and the rest from Martin Weller’s book ‘The Digital Scholar’ in which he lists curation as something universities will need to do. On Chapter 12 he has this list on publishing as:

  • Publishing
  • Research
  • Authoring
  • Submission
  • Rejection/modification
  • Publication
  • Dissemination

WHY?

  • Accepted practice
  • Academic respectability
  • Reward and tenure
  • Dissemination
  • Curation

I wonder if this following quote gives a sense of Martin Weller‘s comprehension of the term ‘curation’ as used in a Web 2.0 context:

‘If Boyer’s four main scholarly functions were research, application, integration and teaching, then I would propose that those of the digital scholar are engagement, experimentation, reflection and sharing’. Weller (2011).

On a quest to become ‘digital scholars’ or ‘thought leaders’ we should, to change one word –engage, experiment, reflect and curate’? The word, used in this, come to think of it, ought also to include ‘moderate’, even to ‘chair’ or ‘host’.

In 2002 Gilly Salmon, then a lecturer at the Open University Business School, tried to coin the terms e–tivity and e–moderator.

Perhaps then, as these things go, the digital community have not picked up on these terms – instead they have hijacked ‘curation’. We are going through a rich phase of redefining and inventing words and understandably they result in carnage and debate. Academics are guilty I feel of sometimes wanting to be the first to coin a word or use a new phrase or word in a new way because citation will mean that they are then quoted for every more. This happens in academic publishing and study, unfortunately ‘curation’ can leave you wondering about the source. Is ‘jumbling together’ the content of others from multiple sources even more questionable than turning to self–monitored wikis such as wikipedia?

Weller also says:

‘If the intention is to encourage engagement then low-quality routes may be more fruitful than seeking to produce professional broadcast material’. Weller (2011) and ‘Low quality individual items because of their obvious ease of production, can be seen as an invitation to participate’. Weller (2011)

Is curation a dirty word? Is curated content reliable? What does it mean in the corporate world?

REFERENCE

Krotovski, A (2012) The Digital Human. BBC Radio 4 (last accessed 22 October 2012)
McGreggor, I (2011) The History of the World in 100 Objects –http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/about/british-museum-objects/ + Neil McGreggor
http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/ahow/all
Salmon, G. (2002). E-tivities: the key to active only learning. Sterling, VA : Stylus Publishing Inc. ISSN 0 7494 3686 7
Salmon, G (2002) e-moderation
Stodd, J (2012) https://julianstodd.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/creating-and-sustaining-high-performance-learning-cultures/
Sullivan, A (2000-2012) The Daily Beast
Weller, M (2011) The Digital Human. More from Martin Weller in his blog: http://nogoodreason.typepad.co.uk/Wijekumar, K. J., Meyer, B. J. F., Wagoner, D., & Ferguson, L. (2006). Technology affordances:  The “real story” in research with K-12 and undergraduate learners. British Journal of  Educational Technology, 37(2), 191-209.

What do we know about learner-types by studying museum visitors ?

Fig.1. From the paper LISTEN: augmented audio-augmented museum guide (c) Andreas Zimmermann, Andreas Lorenz (2008)

This is a paper presentation at a conference of a museum visitor guide system that uses a combination of tracking/observation and audio-artifacts to create a personalized visitor experience. The paper reveals the extent of trials, tests and adjusts as well as evaluation which in turn offer ways that a proposal might be in the form of a presentation of the platform or a workshop that might assess how visitors are profile at the start of their visit.

Fig.2 One of the many multimedia moments at the ‘In Flanders Fields’ museum, Ypres. C. 2013 In Flanders Fields

I had in mind some kind of open, mobile personalized learning for use by visitors to military museums, perhaps national trust properties and even battlefields.

Each of these offer very differ user experiences and expectations though. A literary research reveals that the planning for visitors to an exhibition, collection of curated events or gallery is complex and the history of using technology to support visitor experiences is lengthy.

The research for conference papers is approached from  two directions: the standard approach through the OU online library using terms such as ‘museum’ ‘elearning’ and ‘augmented’, while also drawing on personal knowledge of the many digital agencies based on the South Coast (profiles of these companies are available from the regional hi-tech association ‘Wired Sussex’).

Cogapp have been producing digital content for museums since the mid 1980s.

These and other agencies often present ‘papers’ at conferences, though the quality, in academic terms, of these presentations is sometimes questionable – is it promotion or is this the presentation of valid research?

Fig. 3 On Alcatraz. Following my audio guide, but too enthralled to be on site amongst a hubbub of people.

I can also draw upon a personal interest in museums, galleries, and other visitor attractions from national trust properties to battlefields all, or some of which, come with some kind of ‘guide’ – traditionally as a leaflet or guide book (Picasso Museum, Jean Miro), often with an audio guide (Alcatraz, Muir Woods, Royal Academy: Van Gogh, Bronzes), though increasingly from online resources with some attempts to use modern mobile devices (Design Museum, Tate Modern) or to personalize the experience (In Flanders Fields, Ypres). (Great North Museum)

There are major, global conferences on e-learning, some with an orientation towards, or significant presence from the museum sector. Over the last decade there has been considerable interest in improving, through personalization, the visitor experience.

The attraction of this paper, although it is limited to an audio platform whereas I had in mind something visual, the narrative from conception to testing, delivery and evaluation is thorough. It is insightful on studies of the museum visitor experience, curator relationships with artifacts, use and potential of audio and tracking/observation technology – both hardware and software (Zimmermann and Lorenz, 2008:391)

  • motion-tracked wireless headphones

  • current position

  • head orientation

  • individualized and location-aware soundscape

as well as content preparation and feedback on an iterative process.

These approaches will become increasingly sophisticated, discrete and effective for different visitor ‘types’, even reflecting how a person’s behaviour may change during the course of a visit. It is insightful to discover the degree of sophistication for understanding perception types (Zimmermann and Lorenz, 2008:391)

  • self-perception

  • visual

  • tactile space-perception

  • acoustic space-perception

And visitor types:

A definition of personalized (Zimmerman and Lorenz, 2008:394)

  • Adapts

  • Layers of information

  • Increasing levels of involvement

Pedagogical (Zimmermann and Lorenz, 2008:400)

  • increasing knowledge

  • increasing comprehension

  • considering the social context

McCarthy and McCarthy 2005 distinguish four types of learners:

  • imaginative

  • analytical

  • common sense

  • experimental

Gardner 1993 identifies seven:

  • linguistic

  • logical-mathematical

  • musical

  • bodily-kinesthetic

  • spatial

  • interpersonal

  • intrapersonal

Veron and Levasseur 1983 determined visiting styles based on observations of animals (Zimmermann and Lorenz, 2008:404):

  • ants (following the curator’s path)

  • fish (holistic point of view)

  • butterfly (interest in all exhibits without following the curator’s path)

  • grasshopper (interest only in specific exhibits)

leading to the Macke Laboratory outputs of:

  • sauntering: the visitor is slowly walking around with an excursive gaze.

  • goal-drive: the visitor displays a direct movement with the gaze directed towards a specific artwork.

  • standing, focussed: the visitor is standing with the gaze directed towards a specific artwork

  • standing, unfocused: the visitor is standing or sitting with an excursive gaze

(Zimmermann and Lorenz, 2008:409):

  • fact-orientatedputting a high eight on spoken text
  • emotionalprioritizing music pieces and sound effects
  • overview – focusing mainly in short sound entities

REFERENCES

Arnone, M, Small, R, Chauncey, S, & McKenna, H 2011, ‘Curiosity, interest and engagement in technology-pervasive learning environments: a new research agenda’, Educational Technology Research & Development, 59, 2, pp. 181-198, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 5 November 2013.

Boehner, K, Gay, G, & Larkin, C 2005, ‘Drawing evaluation into design for mobile computing: a case study of the Renwick Gallery’s Hand Held Education Project’, International Journal On Digital Libraries, 5, 3, pp. 219-230, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 5 November 2013.

Bohnert, F, Zukerman, I, Berkovsky, S, Baldwin, T, & Sonenberg, L 2008, ‘Using interest and transition models to predict visitor locations in museums’, AI Communications, 21, 2/3, pp. 195-202, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 5 November 2013.

Brugnoli, M, Morabito, F, Bo, G, & Murelli, E 2006, ”Augmented itineraries’: Mobile services differentiating what museum has to offer’, Psychology Journal, 4, 3, pp. 311-335, PsycINFO, EBSCOhost, viewed 5 November 2013.

Cocciolo, A, & Rabina, D 2013, ‘Does place affect user engagement and understanding?Mobile learner perceptions on the streets of New York’, Journal Of Documentation, 69, 1, pp. 98-120, Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts, EBSCOhost, viewed 5 November 2013.

Edwards, C 2013, ‘BETTER THAN REALITY?’, Engineering & Technology (17509637), 8, 4, pp. 28-31, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 5 November 2013.

Forsyth E. AR U FEELING APPY? AUGMENTED REALITY, APPS AND MOBILE ACCESS TO LOCAL STUDIES INFORMATION. Aplis [serial online]. September 2011;24(3):125-132. Available from: Academic Search Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed November 5, 2013.

Gaved, M, Collins, T, Mulholland, P, Kerawalla, L, Jones, A, Scanlon, E, Littleton, K, Blake, C, Petrou, M, Clough, G, & Twiner, A 2010, ‘Using netbooks to support mobile learners’ investigations across activities and places’, Open Learning, 25, 3, pp. 187-200, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 5 November 2013.

Jarrier, E, & Bourgeon-Renault, D 2012, ‘Impact of Mediation Devices on the Museum Visit Experience and on Visitors’ Behavioural Intentions’, International Journal Of Arts Management, 15, 1, pp. 18-29, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 5 November 2013.

Marchetti, E, & Valente, A 2012, ‘Diachronic Perspective and Interaction: New Directions for Innovation in Historical Museums’, International Journal Of Technology, Knowledge & Society, 8, 6, pp. 131-143, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 5 November 2013.

Mengmeng, L, Hiroaki, O, Bin, H, Noriko, U, & Kousuke, M 2013, ‘Context-aware and Personalization Method in Ubiquitous Learning Log System’, Journal Of Educational Technology & Society, 16, 3, pp. 362-373, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 5 November 2013.

McAndrew, P, Taylor, J, & Clow, D 2010, ‘Facing the challenge in evaluating technology use in mobile environments’, Open Learning, 25, 3, pp. 233-249, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 5 November 2013.

Semper, R, & Spasojevic, M 2002, ‘The Electronic Guidebook: Using Portable Devices and a Wireless Web-Based Network to Extend the Museum Experience’, ERIC, EBSCOhost, viewed 5 November 2013.

STOICA, A, & AVOURIS, N 2010, ‘AN ARCHITECTURE TO SUPPORT PERSONALIZED INTERACTION ACROSS MULTIPLE DIGITALLY AUGMENTED SPACES’, International Journal On Artificial Intelligence Tools, 19, 2, pp. 137-158, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 5 November 2013.

Zaharias P, Michael D, Chrysanthou Y. Learning through Multi-touch Interfaces in Museum Exhibits: An Empirical Investigation. Journal Of Educational Technology & Society [serial online]. July 2013;16(3):374-384. Available from: Academic Search Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed November 5, 2013.

Zimmermann, A, & Lorenz, A 2008, ‘LISTEN: a user-adaptive audio-augmented museum guide’, User Modeling & User-Adapted Interaction, 18, 5, pp. 389-416, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 5 November 2013.

LINKS:

Recommended: MIT’s sixth sense device. Do you know about it? Here’s a link to it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ig2RSID-kn8&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Acoustics DE

Advanced real-time tracking

How to bring the dead back to life with QR codes on your Poppy

Use of Quick Response (QR) codes for eLearning

Fig.1 Easily generated, at no cost, a QR code is a 3D bar code that holds ample information to take you via a scanning App on your smart phone or tablet to rich multimedia content. 

They were developed in 1994 by Denso-Wave (Denso, 2010) to support parts use in a slick ‘just-in time’ Toyota car factory.

And made patent free by them in 1997.

  • They can be read at an angle
  • even when 30% dirt impaired

You come across them far more often in France and Germany, or if you go that far in North America, as well as Japan and China. Over in California last summer I photographed them in all kinds of places …

More on mobile learning  from Kukulska-Hulme, 2005., quoting So (2008) of the importance of:

  • location independence,

  • time independence,

  • meaningful content

Student’s engagement by way of evaluating their own work is a good strategy to motivate students. p. 95

Since 2009 Horizon report mobile devices, clouding computing and the personal web make ‘informational way stations … delivering contextually relevant content’ Cohen (2011) have become possible.

According to Educause (2009) ‘The QR Code is the next-generation bar code, facilitating tagging of information, social media, and other popular content in today’s digital content evolution’,

Use of QR codes has had a mixed response in the UK. Although ubiquitous in China, Japan and North America they are less prevalent in the UK. Their use in museums and national parks has thus far been limited whereas in formal education, to support school trips, there has been greater success. The generation of as well as the use of QR codes within a programme of learning appeals to students who use smart devices and increasingly expect the use of technology and access to the Web as part of their learning experience.

Obituaries and picture/video-memoirs found on cemetery markers, gravestones, and monuments (Naumannm, 2011; Ruane, 2011)

Video/audio guides and tours of tourism locations, museums, aquariums, zoos (Awano, 2007; Information Standards Committee, 2008)

On-demand multimedia tours and information for spaces, events, specialised audiences, shows, museums, dispalys (Barrett, 2012; Tucker, 2011)

Libraries are using QR codes to download audio tours to patrons’ mobile phones so that they can take self-guided tours. (Robinson, 2010; Ryerson University Library & Services, 2010)

France’s biggest science museum used QR codes to connect its physical exhibits to its library holdings, and vice versa (Vandi, 2011)

The South Downs National Park, as an experiment, put QR codes on signage (B-K, 2011)

The Museum of London uses both QR codes and NT codes.

Work where participants are equipped, to survey and for co-operative learning and FAQs that are applicable to targeted learning goals (Gradel & Edson, 2012a)

REFERENCES

Awano, Y (2007). Brief pictorial description of new mobile technologies used in cultural institutions in Japan. The Journal of Museum Education, 32(1), 17-25

Barrett, T (2012). 50 Interesting ways to use QR codes to support learning. (Last accessed 6th Feb 2014  https://docs.google.com/present/edit?id=0AclS3lrlFkCIZGhuMnZjdjVfNzY1aHNkdzV4Y3I&hl=en_GB&authkey=COX05IsF

Kerry-Bedel, A (2011) Its in conservation

Denso (2010a). QR Code Standardization. (Retrieved 6th Feb 2014, from http://www.denso-wave.com/qrcode/qrstandard-e.html )

Hicks, A., & Sinkinson, C. (2011). Situated questions and answers: Responding to library users with QR codes. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 51(1), 60–69.

Information Standards Committee (2008) Section 3: QR code, Synthesis Journal. (From http://www.itsc.org.sg/pdf/synthesis08/Three_QR_Code.pdf )

Robinson, K. (2010). Mobile phones and libraries: Experimenting with the technology. ALISS Quarterly, 5(3), 21–22.

Ryerson University Library & Archives (2012). QR codes. Retrieved 6th Feb 2014, from http://www.ryerson.ca/library/qr/.

Gradel, K., & Edson, A. J. (2012a). Higher ed QR code resource guide.

So, S. (2008). A Study on the Acceptance of Mobile Phones for Teaching and Learning with a group of Pre-service teachers in Hong Kong. Journal of Educational Technology Development and Exchange, 1(1), 81-92.

South Downs Use of QR Codes (2012) http://southdownsforum.ning.com/forum/topics/signposting-and-qr-codes

Tucker, A. (2011). What are those checkerboard things? How QR codes can enrich student projects. Tech Directions, 71(4), 14-16.

Vandi, C. (2011). How to create new services between library resources, museum exhibitions and virtual collections. Library Hi Tech News, 28(2), 15–19.

Mobile learning at the Museum of London: QR codes and NFCs

Fig.1. YouTube video for the Museum of London‘s NFC initiative in 2011

Having picked through links that came to a dead end in a fascinating paper on the variety of technologies and tactics being used by museums in relation to mobile learning I started to see and read more and more about the use of QR codes (those matrix two-dimensional bar codes you use with a smartphone) and NFC ‘Near Field Communication‘ which is becoming an industry in its own right.

Having been kept awake at night about a need for ‘constructing knowledge’ rather than being fed it I knew that visitors, students especially, need to engage with their surroundings by somehow seeking and constructing their own views.

Without QR and NFC the simplest expression of this is taking notes, and or photographs of exhibits – not just selfies with a mummy or your mates. Possibly doing bits of video. And from these images cutting/editing and pasting a few entries in a blog, Prezi or SlideShare. QR and NFC feed the visitor controlled and curated bite-size nuggets, so more than just a snap shot, you can have audio and video files, as well as more images and text.

Fig.2. South Downs Way QR Code.

Successful trials mean that these have spread. Funny I’ve not noticed them living in Lewes and walking the dog most days on the South Downs. I’ll take a look. NFCs have been used extensively, for 90 exhibits, at the Museum of London – so a visit is required. Though I won’t be ditching my iPhone. Apple does not support NFC believing that the technology is still in its infancy … like Flash, like Betamax and VHS, and all that stuff, a battle will be fought over the NFC benchmark.

So 60% penetration of smartphones in the population … most of all of which can use a QR code, but less using a early version of NFCs. My experience?

Fig.3. QR Codes at the Design Museum

Last year a visit to the Design Museum I found the ‘Visualizing the mind’ exhibition littered with QR codes.

They didn’t work. Just as well they had ample computers. How often do organisations jump on the IT bandwagon only for a couple of wheels to fall off further down the road?

Fig.4. Evie

Meanwhile I’m off to walk the dog .. then using a trip to see Gravity at the Odeon Leicester Square with my kids to include an educational tour to the Museum of London (always handy to have a teenager around when using mobile technology).
REFERENCE

‘REPORTING RESEARCH’ 2013, Interpretation Journal, 18, 1, pp. 4-7, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 November 2013.

Information Overload or Cognitive Overload which is the problem?

Fig.1 Exhibit A. Vital to any museum. A place to crash, reflect, nod off … then pick yourself up to do some more.

This is going to read like an excuse to visit yet more museums.

As I reach the end of my Open University learning journey my final task is to write an EMA in which I propose a piece of research on e-learning. My inclination, with 12 days to go, is to look at the use of mobile devices in museums and how the visit experience can be enhanced by personalising the physical journey. It appears the the two problems to deal with are information overload and cognitive overload. There is too much of everything. Whilst I will always applaud serendipity there needs to be a balance between the stuff that you want to stick and the stuff that can be ignored or discarded.

Too many museum visits earlier this week has me wishing I had electric wheels and a pair of Google Glass that could take it in and edit.

  • Museum of Contemporary Art – Barcelona
  • Picasso Museum – Barcelona
  • National Museum of Catalonia – Barcelona
  • Joan Miro Foundation – Barcelona

As I prepare this assignment I plant to queue to get into the Bowie at V&A and try Google WebLab at the Science Museum and possibly the RA and Design Museums too. At least I’m within an hour of London.

My interest is, as I take teenagers to these things, to wish I could get them to that artefact or story about the artifacts creations, or the artist/creative that it will so intrigue them that they are inspired to put some heart into their art or DT.

Two years ago my late mother took her granddaughters around the RA when the Van Gogh exhibition was on. My daughter was treated to my mother, gentle and informed, guiding her then 14 year old granddaughter from quite specific letters, paintings and sketches – pointing things out, talking about technique and the thinking behind it. This was as personalised and as intimate as it gets.

I can understand how Picasso, showing interest and talent, must have been guided by his father who taught art at undergraduate level.

Visual expressions of Open Learning

PART ONE

 Sequence showing my conceptions of the shift in learning.

From traditional top down, to horizontal and collaborative and what’s goes in in the human brain – the interaction between different parts of the brain.

However, whilst this might be an expression of traditional classroom based teaching, through to collaborative Web 1.0 and the semantic Web 2.o as I have illustrated before, the reality is that all of these approaches are going on simultaneously: we still have, and benefit from top down learning – being told or shown stuff, there is collaborative learning, more so in certain subjects.

The second line suggests how things are changing: traditional learning being tipped on its head and on its side or at various angles as an institution, or policy changes, due to the influence of the teacher or because of the subject.

Horizontal learning from siblings, friends, family and extended family – always there in the past goes into hyper-mode as we can connect with ease with many of these people making every day like a family event if you so choose, following and joining in with the antics of others or sharing thoughts on school and life. I should add unconscious learning too – asleep, that sorting process we go through when we dream.

I doubt, from what I am coming to understand about neuroscience, that activity in the brains is greatly different or increased courtesy of the Internet or that stimulation has increased – this is for various reasons: our brain gets bored with the familiar, we turn off, we filter, we select. There is a limit to how much can be process. We give up other things to engage online – though I wouldn’t think giving up ogling at the TV all evening is any loss – the average viewing in the UK is 4 hours a day? Really!!

Open Learning is the last image in the bottom right hand corner – a lot going on, a good deal of connectivity.

But not less perhaps than living in a close, frenetic, village community – more akin to how we lived thousands of years ago with the world at our doorstep rather than our being squirreled away as we now are.

Traditional learning

Informal learning (circles look good, or a hub)

Neuroscience for Dummies (a great intro to the subject, I recommend it!)

Put it all together – as your brain does in sleep, and as occurs anyway as you daydream in class or have a parent help you with homework … 

Open Learn is kindle in the fire … it stokes it up, motivating, demotivating and distracting. Key is the continued connectivity to friends and family wherever they may be. That ‘hub’ of activity you may get after a family holiday or gathering can be with you in your pocket to support and advise. 

Is this what Open Learning looking like? More of what we’ve always had, but now, if you want him, your grandfather can sit on your shoulder all day – in our family my brother would have been asking advice on car maintenance, I would have been quizzing him on first hand detail of the war.  Cousins often get briefings from my father-in-law a retired Oxford Philosophy Tutor.

And now, courtesy of all learning online, open and formal, the action really gets going. Or does it? Is it not simply replacing something else? The very active person in clubs, societies, in a large extended family and so on would be getting this anyway?

PART TWO

This second A2 sheet works with Vygotsky and Engestrom and the idea of how we construct knowledge in a context.

The second image shows the familiar Activity System, an expanded version of how Vygotsy expressed how we learn. The activity system has six interacting components: subject and object, mediated by tools or artefacts, rules, community and division of labour. Enegstrom’s next generation expression of the Activity System is to show two systems interacting, the key here being the interaction of two objects or outcomes to produce a third.

This model is manageable, with set links between the components.

‘In the field’ it is possible to allocate roles to people or departments, to kits and guidelines but then on the second line you start to consider how many activity systems are connected. However, it is no longer simply the case that there is one point of contact – this drive to an outcome or objective.

Already authors wonder if Activity Theory (I have the reference I’ll dig it out for you) can no longer apply, that it has melted.

The middle image in the middle of the bottom row circumvents the set connections to indicated that everything can interact with everything else. Feed this into a multitude of Activity Systems (the final diagram in the bottom right) and you see what complexity is created – the suggestion being that the there is more direct connecting between people with no mediation factors or systems. This assumes that there are no gatekeepers or other barriers, but increasingly, in tertiary education you may find yourself in a discussion alongside the biggest names in your field, whether you are an undergraduate, postgraduate or doctoral student, no matter what institution you are signed up to.

In fact, it is far more open than that of course – by chance or because of an enthusiasm or wish to connect anyone in theory can connect with anyone else – or at least with those who are taking part.

Some 4% of the population in Great Britain who by all accounts should be digital residents don’t event visit – there lifestyle choice is not to use the Internet, just as in the past people may have chosen not to have a TV. Another13% don’t have access at all – no connection, no kit, no space or place to use kit that is shared. And this is the UK. So Open Learning, though not exclusive, cannot be called universal.

Of course, being a purist, if you’re interested in Vygotsky you need to study him in Russian. Now where is there an Open Learn course on Russian?

Models work, as do metaphors, but with the digital world are all such models melting like sheet ice in a warming climate? Merged and blurred like so much ink dripped into a digital ocean?

Though Engestrom sees this as things and institutions, I like to see two people here, say an Art Director and Copywriter working together to solve problems. Two heads better than one and all of that. Any psychologists out there might offer me person to person models as alternatives. 

And how many institutions can and do interact? Think of a $100m movie. Think of planning the Olympics. Think of six people with different skills and experiences working together. 

Is this what Open Learning looking like?

At what point does the model break down?

Become redundant? Even ideas of ‘learning from the periphery’ (JS Brown and Duguid) falls apart if there is no centre, and no periphery, if everyone is equally ‘linked in’ with no degrees of separation at all, where you are anyone else’s father, brother or son. (mother, sister or daughter).

Engestrom ends up using the metaphor of a Mycorrhizae fungi growth such as this.  I also found this rather beautiful image. But can art therefore fool? Something beautiful that is attractive and persuasive may not acutally be representative of the ‘truth of the matter’ – but what is?

Mycorrhizae = the real thing (apologies to the originator, when I can find the reference I will add it)

Which has me thinking of something more fluid, like the water cycle (think digital ocean into the could, then back again)

And in a system, as something more dynamic, with patterns behind the chaos.

In which case, to my mind, Open Learn and e-learning is like global warming to the climate – it is simply putting more energy into the system. Just re-annotate the above (which I will eventually get round to doing).

And if this doesn’t make your brain hurt or your jaw drop take a look at this:

Scale of the Universe

and click on ‘Powers of Ten’ which is, I feel, evocative of Open Learning too – scalable from the micro to the infinite.

REFERENCE

Engestrom, Y Various. I recommend ‘From Teams to Knots’

Vygotsky, L (1926 if you want it in Russia, 1974 for the first translations into English)

Rebecca Eynon from the OII  for ‘Mapping the Internet’ stats on GB Internet use.

(I’ll flesh this out in due course. There are a dozen references related to the above. But this is Open Learning. You get my thoughts on this in all its various drafts).

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