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Some more contemporary theories of learning – all stages including the workplace

Engestrom Y, (2006) Learning by expanding. An activity theoretical approach to developmental research. Helsinki. Orienta–Konsultit.

Expansive Learning. The idea of internal contradictions of change, with a model of learning activity based on horizontal, not vertical learning and ‘knotworking’ whereby the nodes and collective ownership of learning changes.

Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) The Knowledge Creating Company: How Japanese companies create the dynamics for learning.

Learning that is top down and stems from:


Lave and Wenger (1991) Situated learning: legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge.

Learning comes about from participation in culturally valued practices in which something useful is produced – though participation and acquisition alone cannot be enough to make major change. Engestrom p61

Bateston (1972) Steps to an ecology of mind: collected essays in anthropology, psychiatry, evolution and epistomelogy. New York. Ballantine Books.

When it comes to learning on campus think about the ‘hidden curriculum of what it means to be a student’.


500 years of Lewes Old Grammar School, so what do they do? Close the High Street and march around town in costume

A school parade through Lewes. This is Lewes. This is normal.

I’ve been marching around in fancy dress for 12 years either as a Confederate Soldier or an early 18th Century Pirate.

Does Lewes produce more historians per head of population than other towns in the UK?

I wonder because all this activity must have an impact, especially on the younger participants. I took over 200 photos this afternoon, and spent a lot of time getting close ups of the 3d ‘Banners’ that were paraded through town.

The detail and craftsmanship impressed.

The entire set could be used as multiple pegs into the 500 year history of England … and beyond, this is afterall the town of Tom Paine.

This on the day Scotland starts its yes campaign for independence and I happened to be reading the chapter in the Norman Davies book ‘The Isles’ on the extraordinary mishaps that resulted in the union of England and Scotland in the first place.

Scotland had gone bust financing an attempt at empire building in central America. I favour independence. Of the 62 ancestors I can trace back to the 18th century one was Irish, and some 50 from Scotland, the rest from the North East or North West of England.

Synchronous or asynchronous communication and learning?

We hear today, at a distance, in real time, broadcast on Radio, that TXT has overtaken the spoken word on the phone. I email by preference, though will TXT rather than speak usually because I feel I have time to compose my thoughts, can sometimes duplicate the message or a variation of it to several members of the family and then take stock of the responses as they come through – I don’t have time for chat. I avoid chat unless it suits me to chew over a topic, go round in circles and indulge the other speaker and me.

So how does this apply to learning? What is best face–to–face or at a distance, synchronous or asynchronous? The answer I understand is all of these, that interaction by whatever means available helps the learning process compared to working alone. You can think it through with a.n.other; you can share doubts and admit that yiu don’t ‘get’ the most trivial things and have it explained or expressed by somoene that at last makes sense.

‘Get it from Nellie’ is the expression I got from an 85 year old at the weekend, a long retired senior partrner from PriceWaterhouse. He believes in trainees, in the apprentice, the articled clerk, the junior picking it up from the senior. So simple, so obvious, yet where does this occur in education? I’ve only come across it between partners where one is a couple of years ahead of the other on an MBA programme and can give all kinds of guidance. We don’t see A level students helping those at GCSE, or one year group helping another as undergraduates. The system of a qualified PhD as lecturer or supervisor follows this model though. I found it worked a bit a primary school too with 10 and 11 year olds helping out with the youngest. Is there something of the extended family in this? Is there something of a more traditional, manageable community too of elders and others?

Social learning is about sharing, passing on and explaining. It should be less about indoctrination though, to what degree they can in Germany prevent by law any kind of religious upbringing until the young person has a say or thought on the matter is another things – you bring them up as agnostics or atheaists and that is what they’ll be.

There’s the need therefore to ‘get it out’ to express your ideas, to state where you are at, to be corrected or believed, vindicated or shot down. Knowledge doesn’t simply aggregate like coral, rather it feeds on the vibrancy of responses from others.

Learning on a stick! Lewes Old Grammar School: 500th anniversary. A town parade for LOGS and five centuries of learning as they march through Lewes.

From LOGS 500
From LOGS 500

What impact does primary education have on how someone turns out?

‘They came really close to beating any creativity out of me’. says Steve Jobs of his primary education. Ahe had parents who listened, struggled, even moved house to get him a better start. what’s your story?

E-learning might be labyrinthine, but you can call out directions.

Notes on Beetham Chapter 2 An approach to learning activity design.

I’ve found this the chapter on ‘an approach to learning activity design’ from Helen Beetham profound and invaluable.

Helen Beetham is a Research Consultant to the JISC e-Learning Programme. Previously she was a Research Fellow in e-learning at the Open University.

The profound revelations I feel I have had concern three projects to ‘reinvent learning’ with interactive then web-based learning in the 1990s and 2000s that I am familiar with (I was in the production company or agency doing something else, or know the person and the project’s history).

And the sense I wanted from MAODE of the history of education which I sum up as:

1 to 1 the governess and/or then tutor of the aristocracy. 17th century (and earlier, and well into the 20th)

Samuel Daniel was a court poet and amongst others tutored Lady Anne Clifford. A copy of his miniature was inserted in Lady Annes 1646 ‘Great Picture’ that told her life story/struggle.

1 to many in schools (both private and state maintained). (For wealthy families who couldn’t afford the tutors … the ‘public’ schools of Britain from the 16th century, followed by the Victorian & Edwardian schools for all).

1 to 1 or many to many (depending on how you look at it) which brings back a good deal of the 1 to 1 that the likes of Princess Elizabeth might have had in the 16th century, through peer-support you have your time with a subject matter expert (if they will indulge you) … and time with people with very different experiences and insights that can be better at giving your thinking a jolt … or if we will indulge each other through ‘social educational networking’.

From Digital Marketing

From Marketing to the Social Web. Larry Webber.

I appreciate the history of education goes back further to Greece, Mesopotamia and even hunter gatherer societies on the plains of Africa.

My feeling is that technology isn’t as novel as we think; in fact it is enabling what used to occur in closer nit learning groups embedded in society.

I wonder if I should be looking at learning patterns from the Bantu in the Congo and apply that to teenagers wishing to learn using mobile devices in the 21st century, the urban jungle and chase replacing the forests, bore hunts and multiple relationships.

There is a lot to think about. I see learning design as akin to designing and growing a maize maze. One this is in place you have choices regarding whether guide an individual around your labyrinth by calling out ‘left!’, ‘right!’ or just ‘hot!’ or ‘cold!’ while others you leave to figure out their own way through. There will be graded outcomes that require exiting the maze, others where they never leave and yet others where they exit where right they came in – all depending on the activities, the learners and the desired outcomes.

The emphasis, from Beetham’s point of view, is that with learning design should be on learners, the activities they do (not tasks) and the outcomes. Beetham (2007).

Activities, not the tools used or the supporting materials, matter the most.

Whatever way you plan, develop and scaffold learners will do the activities their own way – in different contexts people learn in different ways which raises issues for activity design Beetham (2007).

I ask myself:

· How prescriptive should you be?

· How confining should the parameters be?

· What degree of latitude is offered?

The learning activities may be any combination of associative, constructive or situative. Learners will develop their understanding as a result of consolidation and practice, drawing on their strengths and preferences and a repertoire of approaches. Beetham (2007) e.g. an apprentice learns in an associative way be rehearsing skills and concepts.


Beetham, H, and Sharpe, R (2007) Rethinking Pedagogy for the digital age.


Quantible Googlies

These are things you don’t want people to find out about you when they Google your name.

Of the 17,653 pages in a blog I have dealt with a few self-inflicted googlies and have removed anything that might be deemed a googly by others.

Pseudonyms have been used through-out, but doing a word search through 1.6 million words when I download it then pasting back is a task worth of a Modern Fairytale.

Is it a word?

Did I use it correctly?

Have others used it?

Does it make sense?

Blog at length about your very own googlies and we may find it goes viral.

Or you’ll tell me someone used ‘googlies’ seven years ago.

Tell me where, it might have been me 🙂

Age 11 or say my written English was constantly corrected: ‘ragabond’ is one I recall using. I put them all into a book for an age … for six weeks at least. I’m sure that exercise books is kicking about somewhere. Maybe I’ll need it if the OED gets in touch.

The other day I heard ‘Quantible’ or ‘Quantable’ as a mash-up of ‘Quantifiable’ and ‘Accountable.’ (He thinks). It was said in a Radio 4 broadcast and caught the ear of the producer as the use of the word was repeated in all the trailers.

Teaching history using digital cameras and a good deal of imagination

We imagined they had a hoard of coins from the year 1066.

When put into a photo-booth they went back in time to that year. Each group ‘landed’ in a spot suitably located for each of a sequence of events, covering all three battles that year, the long march south and the coronation of Duke William in London.

Each group of two or three landed in a different location and time and witnessed the events first hand.

On their return they spoke into the camera of the Time-machine camera to give an account of what they saw.

Edited together these clips were shown in class at the end of this term-long project.

Six years on from doing this at a Primary School Google reveals all kinds of engagement relating to 1006 and the Battle of Hastings.

A visit to 1066 country offers the coast and the English Channel, a castle and abbey, the site of the battle and AV of the events.

They got far more history on the events of 1066 than they would have got much before A’ levels, what is more, five years on (I’d gone in as a parent volunteer) many who still see me come out with the line, ‘there wasn’t one battle in 1066, there were three. My love of history was developed as the only grandchild who would listen for hours to his grandfather’s adventures as a Machine-gunner in the First World War.

Transcripts of extensive interviews I conducted in his 93rd year can be found at http://getjackback.wordpress.com/

Writing, child care and resistance



5.55 a.m Shattered but buzzing

Awake because TBT woke shouting ‘Stop it you’re’ giving me a headache’. This sounds like a nightmare. It also sounds like something I have said when I have been trying to concentrate or block something out while Darlingest or one of the kids has been trying to get through to me.

6.40 a.m. Going spare

I have gone twice into the bedroom with a torch to look for a folder of print outs titled ‘Writing 2002’ that contains, amongst other things the notes printed from ‘Journey to Work’ – the story had hope to spend an hour writing. It alludes me, not downstairs in the study, not in my bag. I recall taking it out of my bag so that I wouldn’t have to carry it around Pevensey on Saturday.

Have a mad idea for ‘Time Telescope’. Alfie uses it to alert ships that were wrecked in the past so saving countless lost lives.

The Bodleain Library

Also open my eighteen year old leaver-arch file on the Bodleain. I know this thing lost its way, but reading the questionnaires staggers me. I hadn’t realised I sent this thing around to the key departments. Suddenly I have another ‘live’ documentary. Put the Bodleian online gives you a Wellsian World Encyclopaedia, it is ‘The Contents of Many A person’s brain’ – a way into personalities and an opportunity to discuss the democratisation of learning and information against the elitism engendered in the past by places of scholarship such as Oxford.

So I’m not so bothered when I finally settle down to write and am disturbed within minutes by Zozo calling for someone to go to her.

I have over done It

I am too tired. As I copy and paste entries into a back up disc I somehow delete or overlay several hundred words I have just written on the machinations of yesterday evening.

Cryptic Reminders:

Drop TBT at nursery.

Take Zozo to the library. (Loo. Snacks. Timers).

Collect TBT.

Then what?

All a bit cryptic but ‘doing the Diaryland’ has been somewhat obsessive of late.

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