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

 

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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?

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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 

The silly side of history has its serious side

Having a laff at History – having been fed these stories in some form or another since I can remember no matter how seriously I study the subject now I cannot help but scream, cringe or fall about laughing at this lot. Cunk is irreverent, purile and brilliant. Like it or not, right or wrong, this stuff sticks.

What are the Barriers to Using Educational Technologies?

Research suggests that fear of looking foolish in front of students, time and relevance are reasons why some educators resist using educational tools and platforms. The answer is insightful and persuasive selling of the tools, promoting champions, support and nurture and having a good ear for their recommendations to make sure that content is relevant, wanted and effective.

Ready to Write: the 15,000 word dissertation

The hour glass gets me moving. Only 3 minutes, but once started your brain quickly settled into it. An ink pen. My habit and luxury. It flows wonderfully. This on paper that is consumed generously – every second line and on one side only leaving ample space for amendments and additions. And coffee. This happens to be decaf, Taylor’s of Harrogate (rich and chocolatty). And it’s 7:00am – there’s less chance of a distraction – ideally I’d have a three hour run at this.

Pen and paper has you working with your brain, not competing with your computer

Talking it through

When Stephen Hawking lost the ability to speak in 1985 he realised with great frustration that he could no longer talk through a problem with others and in so doing clarify his thoughts.

For a student to be able to talk through a subject with tutors and fellow students is a vital component of learning that risks being absent where e-Learning is supposed to provide all of that. Face to face in tutorials and at other events, such as in a debate or subject-some specific society is ideal. The next best thing is having formal a Google hang-out and other interactions that are live (synchronous) as well as asynchronous.

Will The OU ever be like other universities ? That’s how to compete

Positivity

This is both a reminder to me, and a suggestion to others. I find that far more is achieved by being positive and ‘can do’ without being overly enthusiastic to the point of being unreasonable. I am prone to say ‘yes’ to any request I get from people to do a thing. I was brought up where all request were met with a firm ‘no’ before I had even finished my sentence … It’s taken a few decades to get over that one.

Meanwhile, as I emerge from a temporary ‘blank’ where I went off radar with viral bronchitis that turned into bacterial bronchitis I am starting to feel refreshed and even re-invigorated.

The world of e-Learning is my future and at last I have a stake in it as a ‘Learning Technologist’.

Many years ago I opted to get into TV from the bottom, not as a trainee producer. I got to make coffee, type up scripts, prepare budgets, organise presenters and actors … and in time to liase with agents, to edit, to write scripts and direct.

I would have loved an apprenticeship, even an old fashioned ‘Technical College’ to my academic training at Oxford, even, to some degree to the mixed academic/hands on experience of the Open University MA in Open and Distance Education. ‘Getting Your Hands’ dirty as soon as possible matters.

Think of working online as more like learning to cook or garden. You will never learn to garden or cook simply by reading books, attending lectures and seminars, researching and writing essays: you must do.

I would also hope and encourage people who study part-time to be ‘in the business’ they are studying – I was too tangential to it and so lacked the insight of a practising teacher (in primary, tertiary, or secondary).

Meanwhile, good luck Open University in a world where every university is rapidly offering distance learning online ala OU. Their mistake was to launch FutureLearn instead of developing this as an in-house project. Their need is to compete with other universities by having a residential campus for undergraduates and graduates – beat the new players at their own game with far better, and established online and blended learning.

As I expressed here six years ago, one day every university will be like the OU, but will the OU ever be like other universities and have 10,000 campus based undergraduates and postgraduates on site?

Hearing the Worst

Moving, engaging, important.

Alive with Cancer

“You are going to have a horrible time,” the doctor said, “a really horrible time.”

I had turned up for what I thought was a routine appointment with the consultant. He looked at his notes, then at me, before leaning over his desk and telling me that the test had come back positive.

I did not feel any physical pain, but a numbing sense of shock. His words were well meant, but not reassuring as I found myself going into battle with cancer.

After the diagnosis, I had a million questions, ranging from – can I be cured, how are you going to treat me and – the most pertinent question of all – how long have I got? Like millions of others, I suffered an agony of uncertainty and anxiety.

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The Vegan Weekly Shop

This covers meals for a five day though missing the porridge oats. Breakfast is either porridge with soya milk, grated cinnamon and a drizzle of maple syrup or spinach and cherry tomatoes on toast. Lunch is often an Asian soup based on coconut and yeast flakes in a vegetable stock with garlic, ginger, and any combination of veggies: carrots, cauliflower, brocoli, mini corn. Evening veggie burgers made in a variety of ‘flavours’ with chutnies made from dates, or sun dried tomatoes, or pasta and pesto. Pesto typically basil based, but often might include avocado. Parmesan replaced successfully after much trial and error with a mix of roast pine nuts, pistachio and cashew nuts put through a spice grinder with yeast flakes.

Experimenting with recipes from a number of books – some more challenging than others.

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