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What is learning?

From E-Learning V

Fig.1. Learning that is connected, socialised and shared

Does learning happen within the head of an individual, or is it mediated, situated and distributed?

Learning as an artefact is the potential informed or insightful response in an individual’s brain. Learning as a process includes the mechanisms of the brain and everything that person perceives around them – which must indirectly include everything they’ve laid down in their memory and how the subconscious responds to any of it.

What does a test or exam measure?

A test or exam can only be judged by how it is constructed and where and how it fits into a period of study – is the test part of the learning process or an assessment? Are the questions open or closed? Are their significant time constraints or not? So they should test what they were designed to test.

Are you interested in how events 95 years ago relate directly to world affairs today?

Fig.1 First World War: 1919 – A new world order

The way the First World War was concluded and the world divided up afterwards set the scene for the mess that was the 20th century and is highly relevant to events taking place in the Middle East today. Between them the French and British Empires as then were took a ruler to the bits of the fragmented Ottoman Empire that they claimed authority over: France got Syria, Britain Palestine, Egypt and Baghdad. France already had Morocco and Algiers. Britain held Egypt as a protectorate. Most importantly the negotiations in Paris left Germany out of the frame and the harshness of terms directly led to World War Two.

These free online courses and the 21st century equivalent of the hardback book – with multimedia and engagement. A few hours a week over a few weeks and you are offered tailored pieces of view, things to read and listen to, activities to do (answering questions which test your knowledge) and most vitally interaction with like-minds.

I suspect these maps will form part of the narrative and explanation of events ever since:

From First World War

Fig.1. The Middle East in 1923

From First World War

Fig.2 Extent of the Ottoman Empire

From First World War

Fig.3 Europe after the First World War

From First World War

Fig.4 The Balkans

You’ll come away intrigued, informed, educated and entertainment: you may even hanker after more.

Germany: Memories of a Nation – mind bursting perfection

From E-Learning V

Fig.1. Niel Macgregor’s ‘Germany: Memories of a Nation’ 

I’ve loved this phrase ‘mind bursts’ for longer than I can remember so find it refreshing when something comes along which for me is expression of what I mean.

Niel Macgregor’s ‘Germany: Memories of a Nation’ takes the massive and complex and makes it interesting and explicable by picking focused, memorable starting points. Every episode makes you think, but the one that got me hooked was on Konisberg and Strasbourg, two cities, once German: Konisberg now Russian as Kaliningrad, and Strasbourg now French.

Niel Macgregor’s ‘The History of the World in 100 Objects’ has received some 33 million downloads!! THAT is a ‘Massive Open Online Course’ (MOOC) without the need for instructional design or assessment. It is informative, educational and entertaining.

Back to Germany though.

We are all probably used to history taught and written about as a series of chronological events, with historians questing for a truth interpreted through the philosophy and means of their era: Niel Macgregor therefore is using 21st century approaches to deliver his history, but what is so memorable and effective are the exceedingly carefully chosen objects, the considered, interpreted and historically accessible language and his smart, even ‘other worldly’ intelligent voice.

Also an exhibition at the British Museum

More in the BBC Radio Series Producer’s Blog

Pixabay – images for posts and attribution rights

From E-Learning V

I clicked on this to find an image of a brain for my last post. Many of the images in Pixabay are from commercial operations such as Shuttershock ; their images have a great big digital watermark across them and a request to pay a large subscription fee. On the other hand, I did find the image of neurons below that does the job and has the Creative Commons Non-Attribution Distribution rights – i.e. use as you please without the need to link to or attribute the image. No fus, no future problem, just help yourself – I like that.

The easiest way to find the perfect image though is simply to search in Google for an item adding the word ‘images’ in the search and then click through ’til you find what gets your attention; click on the image and decide if the conditions are onerous. Depending on what you are looking for most are free with a share-alike creative commons, all you are supposed then to do is to link back to the source.

Pixabay must be an open platform: anyone can contribute images. Perhaps Pixabox are making money by having commercial stock libraries use it too? Flickr is pretty good, but the Google search would include Flickr images anyway.

I have some 2,000 images in five galleries in Google Pics, E-learning I (1000 images, H807, H800),  E-learning II (385 images H808, B822), E-learning III (521 images, H810), E-learning IV (349 images, H809, H818) and E-learning V (Ouverture, once I get started). As well as module specific, even EMA specific galleries, such as H818: The Networked Practitioner. and H818: EMA (29 images,  L120). Grabbed from everywhere, many CCS (share-alike) just about all related to illustrating various MAODE modules over the last four years. However, I’ve not been meticulous about identifying where the copyright always lies. It’s true, that it is irksome, just adding that extra link or creating the correct Creative Contributions copyright tag as an icon – though we ought to do that. There is a bonus for doing so as the links to and from your post and the image host generates traffic but I’d only do that for a commercial blog, which this isn’t.

The other thing to do is to draw your own images, saying using the Apps ‘Paint’ or ‘Brushes” or to take or have your own gallery of photographs to use (smart phone snaps, photos) then you will never have a copyright issue as they are yours. The other one is to screengrab images you like and then manipulate them in a App such as ‘Studio’. All of this takes time and a blog is a blog, not an article for a magazine don’t you think?

A response to any challenge: it takes time, experience, risk and a sense of what you are capable of

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Fig.1 The only time I ever got down this precipitous drop in one go, falling the fall line, was as a fit and by then experienced skier. Plagne-Bellecote, France.

It took eight years, a badly smashed leg, both thumbs and a rib. It is thirty years since I have been in the flat we used then – this is the view from the window. I have no intentions of getting any closer than this. Instead I will join the Ski Club of Great Britain Guide and in so doing learn from others and remain in one, unbroken piece.

My H818: The Networked Practitioner

Though I completed the Master of Arts: Open and Distance Education (MAODE) last year I didn’t feel like a ‘master’ – further modules as continual professional development have realised this: H809 for research and H818 for applying and sharing in an open and ‘directed’ way. My background is a producer in corporate L&D so the aim has been to support the shift from linear to interactive, to connected and open learning founded on applied knowledge of a number of learning theories.

H818 pulled together or touched on a number of personal interests:

  • Can creativity be taught or managed online?
  • What are the parameters, pitfalls and potential of open learning?
  • Recognition not just of an interface between online and ‘offline’ learning, but the blended mix where lessons from either world can inform the other.

There’s a difference between open (small ‘o’) and Open (large O): the latter, as I have done over 14 years posting content, is akin to ‘exposure’ – putting it all out there; whereas the Open movement to be effective, ironically, requires parameters and goals. From H818 the need to, reasons to and how to ‘ask’ became apparent.

The outcome of H818 is the Quick Response code in a Poppy to support open and connected learning about the First World War. As a creative exercise despite being unable to single out a ‘partner’ the working process has been akin to that in advertising where the creative team is a copywriter and a visualiser, with one if these or both likely to have programming skills – or the creative team becomes three. Openstudio online is like the studio I worked in at the School of Communications Arts where I was a student and now mentor.

The ask component has two parts to it:

I post then share blog posts on the QR Code idea via WordPress and a number of platforms: LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Stumbleupon. This at best makes serendipity a possibility but is small ‘o’ – though the connections directly from this include BBC TV, BBC Radio 4, the national trust, King’s College London and a couple of people with direct, personal connection to the content I have posted – they recognise a face from a 1918 postcard.

The second part is, still early days, putting the idea to individuals and groups directly and asking questions that I take care to recognise where they are forthcoming. Using the above social platforms the request is directed at an individual, or to a specific specialist group. The ‘use of QR codes’ in education has uncovered far greater use and interest than the current papers suggest. Direct questions have gone to niche interest groups such that ‘talks’ on the use of QR codes in this way will be given to schools and to regional history associations. Not all that I approach have responded – this kind of ‘ask’ is a kind of selling or PR. It isn’t simply connectedness, it is networking too that expects a professional offering and response. ‘Consultancy’ is one thing, but the production side of it – seeing content successfully briefed in, financed, designed, scripted and delivered is my aim and so with tentative steps ‘Mindbursts’ is coming to fruition and will build on some 15 years of creating learning content in the corporate sector.

The second outcome of H818 is to try and continue and build on the relationships that were developed. In LinkedIn two groups have been set up: ‘The online masters’ and ‘MAODE’ – early days, but experience from the Open University Business School shows how from tiny beginnings great things can grew. The challenge in the early days will be to keep the kindle alight so that there is just enough ‘vibrancy’ to make it a worthwhile place for current and future members. Similarly, a blog where all members have ‘editor’ rights has been set up.

Returning to the idea of big ‘O’ and little ‘o’ it strikes me that my little ‘o’ behaviour is akin to being loudly in a crowd while big ‘O’ requires directed engagement and responsiveness. Which has me wondering that a journalist writing for a paper with its parameters and audience is more open than hiding behind the obfuscation of the blog. Which in turn, as has occurred throughout H818 has seen me completing a huge loop into an online world of the possible to the offline world of the actual and realising that quicker than I imagined learning is increasingly blended whether you put an ‘e’ or an ‘o’ or an ‘m’ in front of it.

My MAODE

My Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) with the Open University (OU)

H807: Innovations in eLearning – Learning outcomes

H800: Technology-enhanced learning: practices and debates

B822: Creativity, Innovation and Change

H808: The e-learning professional

H810: Accessible online learning: supporting disabled students

This completes the Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE)

Taken in addition as continual professional development

H809 Practice-based research in educational technology

H818: The Networked Practitioner

An ethnographic look at how people behave online in virtual worlds compare to who they are in the real world

I went to Oxford to attend a lunchtime lecture hosted by the Oxford Internet Institute and the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology – anyone can attend.

I stumbled upon the talk, I asked, they said come along.

Everyone else was an OII doctoral research student.

My interest was in the explorative method, a reminder of how anthropologists study ‘in the field’ and as much as anything else its an opportunity to talk to and meet people with similar interests.

Three years online and if I continue it will be lectures and face to face – or blended.

I gave myself three hours to get there – just as well as there were accidents on both the M23 and M25. Coming back … more accidents, a 40 mile tailback. I pulled into a service station for 90 minutes sad

The M25 was designed as a river, it’s turned into a glacier.

Dr William Kelly is Research Associate at the School of Anthropology and Museum Studies and Professor at the School of Global Studies, Tama University (Tokyo). He gave a talk on what he is learning about Japanese Virtual Worlds by talking to the creators of specialist niche environments for Japanese people.

QUESTIONS

How to study expressions of culture in a virtual space.

THEMES

Started to think about questions on:

  • expression of identity/self–hood –self–presentation,
  • fashion/adornment, body type.
  • concepts of utilization of space, as building things – how after work group socializing, what some of patterns do they replicate.
  • patterns of social interaction

Culturally specific venues and services – Japan for Japanese, Non–Japanese for Japan, and enthusiasts.

ISSUES

Identifying field sites

Handling offline and online – Japanese write nothing of their offline world.

Ethical

Protection of privacy and permissions.

METHODOLOGY

Company visits and interviews

Contacting producers, visit Tokyo

What is their business in Second Life.

How do they contact and interact with consumers

FINDINGS

People who are very well socialised in the online world, and well socialised in the offline world, which is where my interest took me. (Anthropologist). i.e field study.

Are people being themselves or schizophrenic online … and where is the development of the person occurring? Between the two? WK thinks between the two. Many typing v fast, not speaking. Like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever? Are deceptions successfully played out in VW.

A given in Second Life that everyone is an avatar. Everything is a pseudonym. e.g. an architect in real life who is extremely active and fast in Second Life too. Some have a strong professional engagement, for others it is clearly escape from hard lives.

Two Virtual Worlds (VW) were studied and two specialist creators of content for these VWs. The worlds were the Japanese world within Second Life and a VW recreation of Tokyo called ‘MeeToo’.

It was a lesson in Japanese culture, mannerisms, personalities and behaviours.

Japanese did not like the orientation part of Second Life and were quickly put off. The first company built an alternative that would suit Japanese rather than US sensibilities.

The answer has been to mimic online the most detailed of Japanese habits, from how they greet and how they gesture, to recreate in.

Reflecting on Tony Benn

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I am apolitical. My in-laws used to laugh, saying they cancelled each other out: Tory, Labour and Liberal. (That’s, mother, father and grandmother). I never asked and could never figure who voted which way; they kept their politics to themselves. I have voted in all directions from green through blue to yellow and red – I cancel myself out. I often vote different ways in local and national elections only voting for the person, not their party. In fact I wish political parties could be banned, so, I guess like Tony Benn, you can be your own person rather than being forever held to and subjugated by the party thinking.

That’s me on politics – an agnostic in religion, indifferent in politics.

Here though to pick up on a phrase used on the BBC obituary yesterday regarding his fifty years of keeping a diary (written, then audio). His view, probably expressed to a journalist to keep things short, was that ‘something happens, you write it down, you re-read it, then realise that you were wrong’.

In the aggregation of events, and musings, self-analysis is surely just as capable of creating such an aggregating of similar events and thoughts that you become entrenched, rather than transformed? Surely a bit of both is the reality. Or does it make any difference at all.

I’ve kept a diary and blog and relate to several others who do the same – the diary/blogging thing is part of who you are or have become, you do it out of habit, like saying your prayers at night. I cannot see across any of these people, especially those published diarists, that suggests that in any way the act of keeping the diary changed them. I rather think the opposite, that those who keep a diary are very set in their ways.

There’s barely been a module across the Master of Arts Open and Distance Education (MAODE) that hasn’t expected students to blog. I wonder if this though isn’t for purposes of reflection, but is a learning journal or portfolio of work, a accumulation and aggregation of course work and themes upon which you build you knowledge. In these instances reading over does adjust your thinking, you become fluent in the language of your subject and wise to the ideas rather than ignorant of them. That should be self-evident in the diary I have kept here for four years.

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In the spirit of doing something different in order to effect change I attended a ‘Get Together’ organised by Wired Sussex and took the attitude that I would be open to everything and say ‘yes’ to all. Pure H818. Over two hours I listened to, shared with and learnt from Neil, Gerry, Olly, Karla, Tristan, Simon, Michael … and ‘TV Simon’ as I will call him to differentiated from business managing Simon16 (number of employees). I only remember the people, what they said and names to faces as, shared with them, I did this thing of pegging a face to a place on a familiar journey – walking through the house. And so I found Carla at the front door designing jewellery, Gerry on the stairs coaching folk in life skills, Tristan entering my bathroom talking agile waterfalls, Kanban and SCRUM techniques while Simon was on the landing with our dog – his blonde hair and scruffy beard in keeping with our blonde Labradoodle perhaps? Olly was in the garden talking to John, while Neil moved away and subsequently left. These are only those I met. This approach was part of a lengthy conversation about ‘awesome’ positivity and name remembwring courtesy of our cousins in North America. There is now so much to follow up on: things to do, things to research, people to get back in touch with. So here’s me making some kind of public promise to do so, including having a business card by the time of the next meet up. I own the domain name ‘Mind Bursts’ which is where I plan to seed ideas and seek ways for them to flourish and bare fruit. A big part of the discussion was on kickstart, funding and start ups. The next step could be to point the technology at actors performing a script – narrative. Of most relevance to H818 was that Michael came looking for me as Tristan knew ahead of the meet up that I had an interest in museums and the First World War – this converstion, in a side bar, (a sofa where I was collecting my thoughts) and looked at funding for ‘social curation’ using a tried database management and sharing platform. These conversations will continue in the digital hub that is Brighton-to-Lewes, and the other way towards Bournemouth, which this afternoon, almost feels like midwinter in San Diego.

The value of networking face to face not just online

In the spirit of doing something different in order to effect change I attended a ‘Get Together’ organised by Wired Sussex and took the attitude that i would be open to everything and say ‘yes’ to all. Over two hours I listened to, shared with and learnt from Neil, Gerry, Olly, Karla, Tristan, Simon, Michael … and ‘TV Simon’ as I will call him to differentiated from business managing Simon16 (number of employees). I only remember the people, what they said and names to faces as, shared with them, I did this thing of pegging a face to a place on a familiar journey – walking through the house. And so I found Carla at the front door designing jewellery, Gerry on the stairs coaching folk in life skills, Tristan enteringmy bathroom talking agile eaterfalls, Kanban abd SCRUM techniques while Simon was on the landing with our dog – his blonge haird and scruffy beard in keeping with our blonde Labradoodle perhaps? Olly was in the garden talking to John, while Neil moved away and subsequently left. These are only those I met. There is no so much to follow up on: things to do, things to research, people to get back in touch with. So here’s me making some kind of public promise to do so, including having a business card by the time of the next meet up. I own the domain name ‘Mind Bursts’ which is where I plan to seed ideas and seek ways for them to flourish and bare fruit.

Much of the conversation came from my experience of the Open University’s Master of Arts on Open and Distance Education in general (graduated in 2012) and the module H818: The Networked Practitioner that ends tomorrow having submitted End of Module Assignments last week.

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