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Fig.1 What makes for a busy restaurant?
It’s the difference between a busy restaurant and an empty one; a party you never want to leave because of the buzz and one that you wish you’d never gone to the trouble of turning up for.
This is because ‘social, collaborative and connected’ learning isn’t properly factored into the design of all online courses – at least not until the last couple of years.
I’m sure the techniques and platforms used at FutureLearn will find there way over here – but not, I believe until the entire system on which the OU learning operates I believe. I think there is an inherent weakness in Drupal that will never permit the kind of interactivity that is no possible on other platforms.
Fixing this will be like unknitting the Bayeux tapestry and re-stitching it in silk without anyone noticing. Now there’s an IT challenge.
Challenged over the last couple of weeks to create a 10 minute presentation as part of the Open University postgraduate module H818:The Networked Practitioner (part of the Masters in Open and Distance Education) I’ve barely had time to reflect on this experience when I find for Oxford Brookes University I am creating a 5 minute presentation as part of their online course First Steps into Learning and Teaching 2014 (FSLT14).
A 5 minute presentation takes twice as long to write than a 10 minute presentation.
Je n’ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte. Blaise Pascal
I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.
Anything less than a minute is a TV commercial and might take months to get right.
I’ve known this ever since I took an interest in working in TV (Drama short on Channel 4, otherwise 150+ videos in L&D)
I am at least starting to get the tools I use to sing:
- Picasa for my cloud based albums of pictures
- Brushes to layer images
- Studio to turn images into graphics
Both these for the iPad (I love the tactile)
My issue with the FSLT 14 brief concerns the assumption that a non-wordy presentation – PowerPoint has been banned, any text may only appear on the overlay – is that the first, second and third rule of any ‘audio visual’ presentation such as this is (to quote Alfred Hitchcock):
‘the script, the script, the script’.
You have to write words to rationalise and order the visual.
You write a script in two columns: one describes what you see (the most important), the second what you hear (which is likely to be the spoken, or acted word – as well as sound effects and music).
This format works
Anyone familiar with a screenplay or TV script will be as capable of reading such a script and seeing that happens as a conductor can read a score and hear the music.
It remains word heavy.
Galleries of images and instant search for images is both distracting and limiting. They encourage the ‘creative’ to shoehorn inappropriate, compromise and copyright images into their work.
Far better, not that I’m about to do it, is to stick to the words in the script (easily edited and re-written for effect) and at most doodle an impression of an image: I like using a drawing pen on a large sheet of cartridge paper, though a stylus on the screen of an iPad might do.
So, I’m locked down in ‘writing mode’ at the best time of the day on the best day of the week – early on Sunday morning.
And I’m sharing this practice online. Though currently my expectation of feedback is limited. I miss the way were over a decade ago writing in Diaryland. Feedback guaranteed on the 24 hour cycle as fellow bloggers picked it up around the globe. I know what’s happened, and this blog is testament to that given that I transferred content from 1999-2004 to this space – I have spread myself too thinly.
Who knows what I am writing about anymore?
In this first years it was a balance of writing and the personal following authors who did the same and that group of us who were ‘always there for each other’ had one thing in common – the desire to develop a ‘voice’ and have stories to share.
It may only be five minutes, but I need at least to remember that this is a story – that above anything else, narrative works. The ten minuter I completed and presented earlier this week was too worthy, too explanatory. Let’s see if I can evoke the feelings that came from the workshop I ran:
Let’s also see if I can write what in my heart I want to say, rather than trying to write what anonymous others expect to hear. I do so loathe guides on assignment marking which can reduce something exploratory, that should have momentum and flow, into a ‘tick box exercise’.
And the first thing I do?
I turn to Brushes and draw my own graphic and will see if I can, like Julian Stodd, settle on a graphics style rather than relying on images purged from the Web. I want to use my own photos, but this too requires that I take pictures that deliver the right message.
A couple of hours later I have this. And on reflection, prefer the process of devising your own take on someone else’s graphic, just as one ought not to quote verbatim from other authors, but interpret your take and understanding of their thinking.
Argyris, C, & Schön, D (2007) ‘Organizational Learning’, Bloomsbury Business Library – Management Library, p. 78, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 23 February 2014.
Kolb, D.A. (1984) Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
James Atherton http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/experience.htm
Ed Batista http://www.edbatista.com/2007/10/experiential.html
Roger Greenaway http://reviewing.co.uk/research/experiential.learning.htm#3
I have done and do all three. Are coaching and mentoring subsets of teaching? Yes, though I don’t have to have been the teacher to do either. Another person can be the teacher and that teaching could surely have been done through a book, video or game? After several months doing a Rosettastone language App where or who is my teacher? Perhaps my wife is my mentor and buying in time with a person will add coaching to the mix.
I wonder if to be taught is akin to taking a train or bus ride, while self-directed learning is like riding a bike? That learning like this is like driving a car where through choice the passengers are either fellow learners and the tutor/educator?
Timing would be a key consideration for me – which would relate to pace, variety, purpose and spreading myself around the ‘class’. I will be in a studio like ‘class’ this afternoon for three hours. The groundwork has been done by others, in this context I am a catalyst and sounding board. The teaching will have been done, I don’t know the students well enough to mentor them so it as ‘coach’ or ‘consultant’ that in small groups they will have me for 10-15 minutes each. I have learnt to set a timer on this, not just setting a stopwatch on an iPhone anymore, but going in with a large egg timer – A bit theatrical but it keeps everyone’s attention. Reflecting on ideas about ‘the lecture’ what the above means to me is exploiting the live nature of it – I even consciously dress for the part.
Increasingly I am coming to cherish the values of teaching live and in the flesh for me ‘the teacher’ and for the students. All the more reason to milk these up close moments and cherish them for what they are compared to being disembodied and at a distance online.
The wonderful world wide Web 2.0 is fuel to and reflection of a purely human societal construct on speed or at speed – on speed gives us more of dark, evil, corrupt side of human behaviour while at speed we get the best of altruism, education, community and a desire to do good.
Now take a deep breath and look around you.
If or when there is a calamity in your life were do you turn? A few family members and a few friends who you will need to see and speak to face to face … not via Skype of face time. Locally I trust my community, neighbours and where required the police to keep crime at bay … venture beyond British shores and my faith, trust and experience of each community and its police service will vary.
The Web, because of its networks, means that we are never far removed from a criminal. Visiting the US this summer, fed by movies and not reassured by some of the places we ventured I felt there were guns of necessity on the hips of the police … and hidden guns on people and vehicles. Perhaps if you want to hold up a mirror to the best and the worst of the Web then you should hold it over a patch in California.
Why should the morals or lack thereof of one part of the world be allowed to poison and exploit the World Wide Web?
As, eventually, law and decency catches up a good deal of the filth and criminality will be shut down, locked behind barriers or diluted. In the mean time, like a layer of volcanic dust in the soil profile, a decade or more of anyone who uses the Web who has been exposed to beheadings and the vile, unloving side of pornography, to scams and suffocating spam will have this stain in the brains forever.
I wonder if exposure to the Web will change architecture?
I would feel happier living in a yurt – at least then I could see and know what my kids are doing and with everyone looking over each other’s shoulders – parents, grandparents, friends … and of course the dog, then that would be the best filter of all.
Life happened at the opening of the MOOC on Web Sciences from the University of Southampton (SOTON) – the imminent arrival of a great-grand child is announced while two in their late 80s make their departures, one with little warning, the other with a reluctant move to hospital.
Born in 1928 or to be born in 2014 …
Keen as I am on ancestry I try to reflect on what has and is changing.
How great in truth is or will be the impact on how we live, love and die? Of course the frenetic, massive Web impacts on the neuronal activity in individual brains feeding us with knowledge, news, information and misinformation like never before, but how much does it change the intimacy of a family, of childhood and education, of working and falling in love, of starting a family of your own (or not) and beyond?
The Web, like a strange digital mist now surrounds us – but in the Darwinian sense does it change anything at all?
Words of a distraught young woman from the Philippines coming out of the recent typhoon smack you in your digital face when she starts with ‘no Internet, not smart phone, no food, no water, no roof on our heads, no medicine … ‘ We will surely reflect on that fact that for all the opportunities the Web it is exclusive and fickle.
Yet it is the speed and ease by which this information is disseminated that changes things. I remember the Japanese Typhoon that I watched on multiple TV channels calling to my son who was watching the same online directly from people’s smart phones.
The new arrival mentioned above was posted on Facebook, the ‘departure’ was a call to a mobile phone. Both will feature online to welcome to the world or to reflect on a long life and commiserate.
- The University of Southampton’s Web Science Institute (amandabobel.wordpress.com)
- UK unis prepare to launch ‘moocs’ this autumn (ool.co.uk)
- MOOC. Study Anywhere Anytime and for Free (johnijagbemi.wordpress.com)
- Amazing announcement!! Mooc makes Oxford online dictionary (opentopictest.wordpress.com)
- In Times Higher Education, on MOOCs (bryanalexander.org)
Martin Weller published ‘The Digital Scholar’ in 2011 on a Creative Commons Licence. You can download it for free, or purchase the book or eBook, and then do as you will with it. When I read it I share short excerpts on Twitter. I’ve blogged it from end to end and am now having fun with a simple tool for ‘mashing up’ designs called ‘Studio’. It’s a photo editing tool that allows you to add multiple layers of stuff. I rather see it as a revision tool – it makes you spend more time with the excerpts you pick out.
You cannot be so open that you become an empty vessel … you have to create stuff, get your thoughts out there in one way or another so that others can knock ’em down and make more of them. Ideas need legs. In all this ‘play’ though have I burried my head in its contents and with effort read it deeply? Do we invoke shallow learning and distraction with openness? If we each read the book and met for a tutorial is that not, educationally, a more focused and constructive form of ‘oppenness’?
In relation to scholarship shoulf the old rules, the ‘measures’ of academic prowess count? In the connected world of the 21st century ‘scholarship’ is able to emerge in unconventional ways, freed of the school-to-university conveyor belt.
Weller, M (2011) The Digital scholar