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Where’s technology in education taking us? MAs like A’ Levels? MBAs and PhDs for all?

As you watch the video consider and make notes on how it relates to the more general findings from the broader research literature discussed earlier.

Also consider the following questions:

  1. Is the message being presented in this visual way any different from the primarily text-based presentation of findings used so far this week?
  2. How important is the medium and the technologies themselves in terms of conveying messages about this research area?
  3. What are the implications for your own practice?

Catchy music. Well exectued. Memorable. Viral.4.5 million views to date.

The execution is persuasive; this is how advertisers do it. You have a message, you find a director who knows how to put it over in way that works.

I’ve done this myself a few times.

The music is crucial and often not considered in the budget.

Library music might, but rarely works.

Far better to pay for a peice to be composed; I have worked with plenty of student composers who’ve created a terrifc mood, what I wanted, cued to a click track and the images on the screen. I’ve also used copyright music and begged persmission from composers, such as some Michael Nyman music I wanted to use.

As a teaser or catalyst at the start of a week (or module,or course) this kind of thing is fantastic, but it is a trailer … it is not an objective report. The music dictates how the director wants us to think.

These underviewed clips could do with a bit of TLC.

I also need to afford to have them transferred to a higher defintion.

Here’s a simply exercise to demonstrate who the music skews the mood, impact and desire outcome; turn off the sound and play the video to ‘Anarchy in the UK’ the Sex Pistols, or ‘She’s Like a Rainbow’ Rolling Stones. Do you feel so sympathetic now?

Is not this the kind of music played to claw at our heart strings when our charity is being requested to house the homeless and feed the poor?

If you think you can turn a report or piece of research into an objective and compelling piece of TV you are wrong

a) There must be a narrative

b) There is a need for conflict

c) Controversy helps

A polite debate to a live audience that gets out of hand does the trick, but this is hardly the Jeremy Kyle show.

Increasingly, though my background is the spin of advertising and stakeholder communications, I want to learn how to research and present sound, objective facts – the kind of evidence upon which people can act on the basis that the thoroughness and professionalism of the approach has isolated the problems which others can then address.

The nonsense spoken about ‘The Net Generation’ et al. implies that arming one cohort with laptops (a 1999s thing), now with tablets (preferably an iPad) will deliver.

This ain’t how it happens. Never has with technology and never will.

Were I the Headmaster of a school I’d want to see technology used to play to the strengths of the subject being taught.

In art classes and music they are going to get a pad of A3 cartridge paper, some soft pencils, putty rubber and a knife; in music they’re going to get an ‘unplugged’ music instrument to master.

In Chemistry they can have a white board that shows interactive animations of chemical processes taking place in what would otherwise be dangerous experiments.

In H807 I bemoaned the fact that I wasn’t being hit with the kind of gizmo-worlds I’d been brought up to create for corporate clients – they want to see their money on the screen. We ‘read’ for the Masters in Open and Distance Education. When faced with a video, if a transcript isn’t provided, I have to take notes verbatim ditto podcasts.

Reading and the technical demands of typing and word-processing might be as far as it needs to go.

Where any technology is less intuitive or easy that word-processing then don’t bother. Nor assume people have the ‘right’ skills – having had a Mac since the early 90s I find some Microsoft software like being presented with a unicycle with a square wheel.

I like the phrases ‘disruptive technologies’, ‘catalysts for change’ and ‘pedagogical innovation’.

The thing to remember is that one size does not fit all, indeed the technology ought to offer additional variety, not replace what has gone before.

Some ‘services’ I am so familiar with, as well all, that I wouldn’t have thought to suggest they had a role in education; mobile phones, laptops are put of the landscape in work, school and the home. Not all, but many. We must remember the notable exceptions to owning or becoming familiar with these tools.

As for PDAs and memory sticks are these not history? PDAs replaced by SmartPhones and memory sticks replaced by portable hard-drives and the ‘cloud’. And thus the demise of Pagers, floppy discs and zip drives.

I still crave a Psion.

Will an iPad fill that gap? Or a Nokia E7? I’m looking for a keyboard and screen that I can treat like a spec case with the power to put people on Mars.

Any suggestions?

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Meanwhile, but to the activity at my fingertips:

(We mustn’t call them tasks I’m told, sets the wrong tone. So why not e-tivities? Do I need to ask?! I came across someone referring to e-quality and wanted to report them to the abuse of the English Language through the prefixing of ‘e.’)

The dichotomy between students and staff is slowly disappearing – perhaps it has gone.

There never was a Net Generation in my book, often if is (as we would expect) the teacher who is the master of the technology … they should be. This is the role we adults have before our children. We teach and nurture them, not the other way around. They generally learn from us, we have to crack it, add and embellish.

Were the students of the ‘Pill’ Generation in the 1960s not more rebellious then this lot?

Taught by teachers born between two World Wars, the differences must have been extreme. There are of course some biological reasons why until the students are adults, there will be significant barriers and differences. And whose to say, person by person, when intellectually maturity sets in. I’d say that I’ve only got there in my 50th year – I’ve enjoyed being a boy too much, until recently I could only be taught like a first year A’ Level Student (spoon fed).

Sharpe et al (2005) is a must read for the Masters in Open and Distance Education.

I don’t know why it and a couple of other books are boxed up and sent out to anyone who registers early. It is reassuring to return to authors whose voices you come to trust over the 18 or so months.

We learn that students have:

  • A mixed view about technologies
  • Feel pressured to do more (there’s little faster or more efficient that simply reading a paper)
  • Have mixed experiences and expectations of their tutor (someone remind us, we are POSTGRADUATES)

Pedagogy (does it work?)

Learner differences (which can be extraordinarily diverse compared to a cohort of undergraduates terming up on campus with the same accent, same outlook, same educational background … and not that long ago in some Oxford Colleges, the same gender too).

Beetham et al (2005) should be another set book.

By reading MAODE blogs I’ve spotted in advance the books that are most often refereed to and bought them. I have around a dozen now and had I a hand in reinventing the MAODE far from spending £100k with some of the top video production companies and web agencies in the land to ‘pimp it up,’ I’d been handing out these books and e-books.

‘Distributed collaboration’ here we come.

I’ve often likened the experience of MAODE, or is it just postgraduate learning with the OU, as my head being like the chocolate shaker at Cafe Nero. I’ve had chocolate pixie dust tipped into my head and someone keeps lifting me up by the ankles like a new born baby and giving me a good shake. My ideas have been turned on their head, not least the desire and interest in sharing whatever I think. It serves a purpose not to be previous about what you think. Not quite like getting it wrong on National Radio and being correctly by a few thousand emails, but you are often set right, or put on the right path, by hearing what your fellow students think.

Find me on Linkedin. I’m forever joining groups and discussions and find the feeds from the busiest groups

Oblinger and Oblinger (2005) Educating the Net Generation sounds like a must read. What are the reviews? I couldn’t find it. Or is it a paper? There are plenty of texts written on the theme – most I’d give a wide birth.

Their points are:

  • weaving in the technology to current practice
  • kids who’ve grown up with it
  • its becoming ubiquitous
  • they use the web for homework (so what, we use it for work and pleasure too don’t we … and did from the start. The kids are copying Mum and Dad when they learn to touch type by the age of 6, NOT the other way round. They crave to get online because their parents do; it was ever thus.)
  • there is more surface level learning (right through to university … and at the BA level too often, students learn what they are told to learn, from the surface, whether from the web, a text book or print out … whatever it takes to pass the exam. Why I am told the Oxbridge BA sees itself as an MA programmer for undergraduates.
  • More visual. I would love papers to be illustrated, just a photo or apt cartoon above the abstract. Why shouldn’t academic writers hook their readers too. Randy Pausch did in a paper he wrote while at Disney working and researching the skills of an ‘imagineer’.
  • they want ‘just in time’ answers and it needs to be experiential (Conole & Dyke 2004; Gibson, 1979). We should celebrate this achievement … its what managers in business have been trying to incorporate into business practice for decades.

‘Write rubbish then improve it’?

Who said ‘write rubbish then improve it’? I like it – this is how to blog and why it is invaluable.

I found this in a fellow Open University student’s blog. This week we are invited to post in a blog, or start a blog and then read and comment on each other’s efforts. I estimate that I have over 3,000 entries online. My modus operandi is to post 1,000 words an entry. Do the maths; it can be done in six years – I’ve taken nearly 11. There are gaps, months, even years missing (which is a shame, as I’m sure it was when I had the most to share personally),

I am thinking of reliving the OUs Masters in Open and Distance Education  from February 2012

I can do this, day by day, module by module, week by week, picking back through my OU student blog (started February 2010) and improving and resubmitting each page. It’s no harder say, that returning to a series of peak walks in the Lake District, this time fitter and more knowledgeable.

I could have a title ‘From idiot to academic’ comes to mind. I cringe at some of my entries … and wish I’d kept some of the nonsense I wrote in forums (I did, some at least was saved into My Stuff).

Having done this with the contents of a blog started in September 1999 repeatedly, and with the content of diaries started in March 1975, I’ve learnt the personal value of doing so.

I do it in part by taking posts from that Student Blog and embellishing/editing them here.

I read some books ahead of the course

… read some between modules … whole books where we had been introduced to an author or chapter, and now I crave the security of reading a related book cover to cover.

The ideal pattern is to read them as an e-Book highlighting and taking notes, then add to the highlights and notes and put the lot into My Stuff, the OU e-portfolio, with super-highlights, key thoughts or moments of enlightenment, here in the blog.

(Scroll down to find these, I now feature the cover of the book too)

Academics will say that this is me simply repeating the learning process I ‘endured’ in my youth. It was, from the reading list I had to get through before I even started university.

I think this week (WK12 H800) could be used to reflect not only on H800, but from my perspective the entire MAODE.

This student teacher relationship is key.

I am very fortunate that I sit next to a senior learning designer at the OU Faculty of Business and Law. (New job, started three weeks ago).

Our conversations (me listening rather) are enlightening … what I pick up as other conversations occur is the intensity of debate that goes into course design – even in a distance or online course – as educators they are desperate to do or be the closest thing to being their themselves.

The struggle is between content and creativity a plausible, realistic, transferable and repeatable ‘Activity’, that goes beyond: here’s a queston, here’s the reading, write and essay, share and discuss.

‘Activty, Activity, Activity’ is the mantra, that I personally re-interpret as ‘play, play, play.’ (Guided, purposely, engaging, transformative, lasting, memorable, motivating … and effective). A very tall order. Coming from advertising and communications we could focus our energies on a strapline, body copy, video news release or PR piece at most … this however is, as we know, thousands of lines of words: the right words, in the right order, for the right reason, to sustain a course for many years. And its students, and the tutors who may also be coming to it fresh.

Love your memories in a blog

I thought 500 page views was a landmark, then 1000. There has been steady growth to 10,000. It went crazy for a week in April with 1,000 views a day then settled back to 150-250 day. Whose counting? Basic analytics are a form of recognition, even reward for the blogger. 50,000 is a biggy that has taken 14 months to achieve. 100,000 is unlikely within the Masters in Open & Distance Education, though a MRes, another module in the MAODE (because it interests me so much) or a MBA are all of interest for later in the year and all would be blogged upon right here.

Are you saying something worthwhile to this audience?

Even if I feel the PC Screen is a mirror and I’m writing this for my benefit first as a reference I can return to later: what did I think? Where is that quote? Where was I in the learning process? Aren’t I glad I’ve moved on! Editing old entries, bringing them up-to-date develops this. As Nabokov wrote,

“I think it is all a matter of love: the more you love a memory, the stronger and stranger it is.” Nabakov

Read Backwards

e-Reading ‘A New Culture of Learning’ backwards in a large font isolating interesting gems I may have missed. Also reading it by search word; ‘play’ works and is appropriate with over 160 mentions.

I liken this to panning for gold.

Once I’ve done this a few times typing out notes may be irrelevant; I’ll know it. ‘Play as the new form of learning?’

One final thought. Two decades ago I liken learning to a nurturing process, of an educator/teacher or course designer/principal sprinkling water on the heads of students buried like heads of lettuce emerging from the ground.

This no longer works for me.

What I now see are kids in a large paddling pool having fun and making up games with toys offered to them by supporting parents and older siblings.

The mantra for e-learning is ‘activity, activity, activity’, perhaps it ought to be ‘play, play, play’; that’s what you’ll come away with if you read John Seely Brown and Douglas Thomas ‘A New Culture of Learning; cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change.’

(50100)

Blog for your life … and love it.

I thought 500 page views was a landmark, then 1000. There has been steady growth to 10,000. It went crazy for a week in April with 1,000 views a day then settled back to 150-250 day. Whose counting? Basic analytics are a form of recognition, even reward for the blogger. 50,000 is a biggy that has taken 14 months to achieve. 100,000 is unlikely within the Masters in Open & Distance Education, though a MRes, another module in the MAODE (because it interests me so much) or a MBA are all of interest for later in the year and all would be blogged upon right here.

Are you saying something worthwhile to this audience?

Even if I feel the PC Screen is a mirror and I’m writing this for my benefit first as a reference I can return to later: what did I think? Where is that quote? Where was I in the learning process? Aren’t I glad I’ve moved on! Editing old entries, bringing them up-to-date develops this. As Nabokov wrote,

“I think it is all a matter of love: the more you love a memory, the stronger and stranger it is”

Read Backwards

e-Reading ‘A New Culture of Learning’ backwards in a large font isolating interesting gems I may have missed. Also reading it by search word; ‘play’ works and is appropriate with over 160 mentions.

I liken this to panning for gold.

Once I’ve done this a few times typing out notes may be irrelevant; I’ll know it. ‘Play as the new form of learning?’

One final thought. Two decades ago I liken learning to a nurturing process, of an educator/teacher or course designer/principal sprinkling water on the heads of students buried like heads of lettuce emerging from the ground.

This no longer works for me.

What I now see are kids in a large paddling pool having fun and making up games with toys offered to them by supporting parents and older siblings.

The mantra for e-learning is ‘activity, activity, activity’, perhaps it ought to be ‘play, play, play’; that’s what you’ll come away with if you read John Seely Brown and Douglas Thomas ‘A New Culture of Learning; cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change.’


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