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The Girl at the Lion d’Or

Having enjoyed ‘Birdsong’ by Sebastian Faulks I not only went on to read many other Faulks’ novels, I also went on to read much of Pat Barker too (for the First World War setting), and Ernest Hemmingway. Indeed, written at the time, HGWells take you to a similar place.

I find myself reading ‘The Girl at the Lion D’Or’.

As is too often the case I realise half way through I have read it before; I should know the characters and recall the events and outcome: I don’t. In fact, I am compelled as much to read it for the story as to satisfy this nagging feeling I know something dreadful or beautiful is about to happen. We get a little of each. And some wonderful interludes, as if Faulk’s wove in some short stories that weren’t going to endure as novels. (There’s a nifty idea).

I want to talk about this lovely story, how Anne comes from Paris to work at the Hotel Lion D’Or. Who and what she is touches many lives, she is a catalyst for misbehaviour, action and change.

But I can’t help but reflect on how I read, or skim read. I simply do not take it in, or rather, my mind leaves it on the surface, like a conversation overheard on a train. My mind, my kind of mind at least, or how it has formed, through a combination of genetics and experience, treats all readying as frippery. The consequence of this is that when I have academic reading to do it takes a huge effort to get anything at all to stick.

Reading on its own is pointless.

Historically I took notes long hand of everything I read. Historically, at school and university this would become an essay, the essay would be discussed in a small tutor group, filed, then looked at again months later for an exam. This kept that knowledge for the required period. Today I take notes through a QWERTY keyboard and upload. I am toying with adding pen to paper again. Then what? So long as I return to the notes and develop them the topic may become a living thing. Best of all, for me at least, are the vibrant tutor groups, or some online forums where I can find them. I need to wrestle with a topic, to agree and disagree, to read more, to seek out my own heroes and villains from further references. Then, and only over a period of months, if not years, do I make any sense of it, do I feel a sense of conviction about what I have picked up, understood or misunderstood.

I’m coming to apperciate why ‘scholarship’ takes time.

I don’t take notes when reading a novel; perhaps this allows me to enjoy the second or third reading. You discover new things, you pick up the detail, nuances that weren’t apparent the first time round. You may even get a better sense of the author’s voice and purpose.

Can anyone recommend a good read?

I feel a novel a week inbetween OU reading and employment would be a good tonic for my mental well being. I beleive I work and think better too, but escaping from it all regularly.

You can immerse yourself in a subject and drown.

How phenomenology explains why people may still be adrift of the desired learning response.

Between formal and informal learning design styles

Highly prescriptive vs call up the information you need as you go along. So defined instructions vs figuring it out for themselves. Perhaps using tools to guide and inform. We were given the simplest of tasks, teaching students how to cross a busy road in safety.

I made a point about any group requiring leadership or a champion.

I made a point on Randy Pausch whose 3D lecture series included mixing up student groups who then had to vote on each other’s levels of collaboration in the group.

There was a discussion on informal peer assessment that I didn’t entirely follow, certainly my notes are somewhat cryptic. Hopefully the session was recorded so I can listen back.

It is the unexpected insights in a synchronous session that prove valuable, especially the asides in the break-out room.

Assemble the books and papers you plan to refer to ahead of writing.

This is a new one to me. I prefer to write what I want and deal with the referencing after rather than fitting the assignment to the books and papers.

Perhaps a combination of the two is required.

The learning plan you produce may not be followed closely given the myriad of ways people respond. Many are drawn in by the assessment but not all.

Can such divergent styles be accommodated?

As the Elluminate discussion progressed, four students, one tutor moderator, I did a doodle.

doodle

Having shared the idea I then corrected it.

From Wenger (1998:233)

‘There is an inherent uncertainty between design and its realization in practice, since practice is not the result of design but rather a response to it’.

Phenomenology explains why people may still be adrift of the desired response.

The notes reads ‘design as well as we can … ‘the students share the outcome. We set the learning, that is then displaced to or set in the context of each learner. We might have a learning objective, but students can and diverge from this’. (A good thing if you want diversity and originality)

As a learning designer you have to anticipate a variety of behaviours and plan for not too many being wildly divergent. This can be achieved by understanding the students.

Virtual Learning Environment vs. Personal Learning Environment. Who wins?


  • John Petit
  • Martin Weller
  • Niall Sclater

Stephen Downes – Students own education

·How much do they actually differ in their views?

·What is my perspective?

·Freedom is lack of choice

·Parameters work

·Creativity is mistakes

·Have rules, the mischievous or skilled will break them anyway

·The end result counts.

a)This isn’t a debate. Neither takes sides and the chair interjects his own thoughts. A debate, whether at school, university or in a club, or in a court of law or the House of Commons, is purposely adversarial, people take sides, even take a stance on a point of view they may not wholly support, in order to winkle out answers that may stand somewhere between the two combatants.

b)During the MAODE this might be the second such offering as a ‘debate,’ the last being as weak. What is more I have attended a Faculty debate which shilly-shallied around the issues with at times from an audience’s point of view it being hard to know whose side the speakers were on?

c)As well as deploring the lack of rigour regarding what should or should not be defined as a debate, the vacuous nature of the conversations means that you don’t gain one single new piece of evidence either way. Generalities are not arguments, neither side attempts to offer a knock-out blow, indeed Martin Weller seems keen to speak for both sides of the argument throughout.

When Martin Weller implies that a VLE constrains because ‘There are so many fantastic tools out there that are free and robust and easy to use.’ I would like a) example b) research based evidence regarding such tools, which do offer some compelling arguments, these commercial and branded products have to offer something refreshing and valuable.

Unlike some university offering they are therefore not only effective, but vitally, they are fun, tactile, smartly constructed, well-funded, give cache to the user, are easy to share, champion and become evangelical about, explored, exploited and developed further. Here I compare Compendium with the delight of bubbl.us.

Here I compare blogging in the confines of the abandoned cold-frame that is the Victorian OU student blogging platform compared to the Las Vegas experience of WordPress.

I can even compare how WordPress performs externally compared to the shackled version provided by the OU. On the one hand there is a desire to treat students like sheep; there is even a suggestion in this chatty-thing between Niall Sclater and Martin Weller than OU undergraduates ought to offer the most basic environment in which to operate. Access is an important point, but you don’t develop players in an orchestra by shutting everyone in a hall and giving them a kazoo. And if that Kazoo requires instructions then it deserves being ignored. Having lived with it for a year the OU e-portfolio My Stuff might best be described as some kind of organ-grinder with the functionality and fun-factor of Microsoft DOS circa 1991.

Martin Weller makes the point about tools that might be used this before, during and after their university experience. There is a set of ICT tools covering word-processing, databases, number manipulation, calendars and communications that are a vital suite of skills; skills that some might already have, or partially have … or not have at all. The problem is in the accommodation of this widely differing skill set.

JV Exposure to new, or similar, experience of better as well as weaker programmes/tools, fashion, peer group, nature of the subject they are studying, their ambitions, who they are, how much time they have, their kit, connection and inclinations, let alone the context of where they are going online.

In this respect Martin Weller is right to say that ‘some kind of default learning environment’ is required first of all.

Caveat: You are going to need people to use the same kind of things in order to be able to communicate.

·University blog vs. their own bog.

·University e-portfolio vs. their own portfolio.

·Elluminate vs. Skype.

·Mac vs. PC,

·Tablet vs. laptop.

·Desktop vs. smartphone.

·Paper vs. e-Reader.

·University Forum vs. Linked in or others.

·Twitter vs. Yammer.

Swimming analogy: training pool, leisure pool, main pool, diving pool, Jacuzzi.

Niall Sclater makes a point about a student using an external blog that doesn’t have a screen reader. Do browsers not offer this as a default now? Whilst I doubt the quality of translation I’ve been having fun putting everything I normally look at into French or loading content onto an e-reader and having it read to me on long car journeys. The beauty of Web 2.0 and Open Learn is that developers love to solve problems then share their work. Open Learn allows these fixers to crack on at a pace that no institution can match.

Perhaps issues regarding passwords is one such problem which is no longer a problem with management systems. Saving passwords etc.: Other problems we have all see rise and fall might include spam. The next problem will be to filter out spam in the form of ‘Twitter Twaddle’ the overwhelming flack of pre-written RSS grabbed institutional and corporate messages that should without exception be ‘flagged’ by readers as spam until it stops. I never had a conversation with a piece of direct mail shoved at me through my letter box, or spam come to that matter. Here largely the walled, university environment in which to study, is protected from the swelling noise of distraction on the outside,

Niall Sclater talks about the Wiki on OU VLE, in Moodle ‘comprises what we consider is the most useful functionality for students. The OU ‘cut out a lot of the bells and whistles you find in MediaWiki’. New to wikis I enjoyed being eased into their use, but like a keen skier, or swimmer, having found my ‘legs’ I wanted incremental progressions. Being compelled to stay in the training pool, or on the nursery slopes, to return to by Kazoo metaphor, is like having Grade 5 flute, but having to play with six novice recorder players in Kindergarten. We move on and therefore what is offered should move with us.

Universities fail abysmally to sell their products to their captive audiences.

Commercial products are sold, invitingly to everyone who comes within earshot. There is a commercial naivety and intellectual arrogance sometimes over stuff created that must be great, because it is the invention of brilliant minds … and that its brilliance will be self-evident even if it sits their within its highly branded overcoat waiting for some time to take an interest and take it out for a test drive. Creators of these tools forget that a quick search using some of the terms related to the affordances of the product being offered will invariably produce something more appealing from the likes of Google, Adobe, Apple or Microsoft.

Nail Sclater points out that some students can be confused by too much functionality. I agree. If there is a product that has far too much functionality, it is Elluminate. And even for a library search, it ought to be as simple as the real thing … you go to a counter and ask for a title. Google gets it right. Keep it simple. Others are at last following suit. Or is the Google God now omnipresent?

Martin Weller stumbles when he says that Nail ‘hits on two arguments against decentralised PLEs by

a)Giving three arguments

a.Authentication

b.Integration

c.Robustness

b)He is meant to be in favour of PLEs.

i.e. academics are incapable of debate because they are, to use of Martin Weller’s favourite terms ‘contextualised’ to sit on the fence. A debate should be a contest, a bullfight ideally with a clear winner, the other party a convincing looser.

You wouldn’t let a soldier chose his weapons then enter the fray. There has to be a modicum of formal training across a variety of tools, and in a controlled, stepped fashion in order to bring people along, communally, for retention and to engender collaboration and participation and all that benefits that come from that.

Who at a time of change is going to declare their role, or department redundant? Brought into a new role, Social Media Manager, I feel I will have succeed in 12 months if I have handed over the keys to others, spread some of the glory about. That’s how I see it, a little bit of everybody’s lives. You can wordprocess, you can do some aspect of Social Media. There are other functions though that long ago were circumvented by clever software. Web 2.0 deplores the gatekeeper. It wants to put everything ‘out there,’ enabling everyone and anyone to make of it what they need and please.

Personally I’ve been loading content, text and images, in diaryland since Sept 1999 and have never had an issue with access, yet I have repeatedly found my OU e-portfolio failed, or that while composing a response in a forum the system fell-down and I lost what I was doing.

Nial Sclater argues in favour of VLEs to ensure usability, access, extension to students, common ground on terms of tools, opportunity and form an assessment point of view, use of content too.

While Martin Weller wants to ‘Support’ – an argument for VLEs. (I’ve now made the point several times that Martin Weller seemed unsure of which side he was on, and by personality and from experience, will never take a side in any case).

We DO want people going away being able to use package X. Do we turn out Roy Castle types who can play loads of instruments not very well, or a virtuoso performer who can at least play the cello well?

JP stepping in ‘as my confidence grew I got to know that and my confidence grew across the year as I got to know that and one or two other very limited and well-supported tools’

Nial Sclater’s point that the same tool is required for collaboration and assessment. This applies also to reading the materials provided and doing the activities so that these are the points of reference for assessments (as currently practised). How can a Tutor mark an assessment that is based on vegetables from a walled Victorian kitchen garden, when the student offers flowers grown from seed in a tub? To return to my sporting analogy, how might I judge a person’s ability to swim after 12 weeks if they’ve been learning how to sail?

Parameters have a purpose.

The greatest resistance to a writer is having no sense of purpose, no goals, no parameters, no set pieces, no one to be on their case. A free for all, perhaps as the new London Business and Finance School is finding, is that just giving students the lot and telling them to get on with it is not conducive to a viable learning experience. (Nor do I think it’ll deliver someone is able to work with others).

Whether on paper or online, learning requires effort

Paper Assignments

I have in-front of me an Amateur Swimming Associations (ASA) paper for the Level III Senior Club Coach certificate. There are 12 sheets, facing side only. The paper is waxed, copyrighted and stamped with the ASA logo. Having attended a day long workshop on the topic, done some reading and from my own experience I complete these assignment and submit. It ought to be submitted as is; this is in part a test of authenticity. I have handwritten my responses. My habit and way of doing things is to have it in a word document, so I load the text and tables, complete the required questions/tasks, print off and submit both parts. Invariably I get a note about the typed up/printed off version being so much better … it takes skills that even I lack to write something in some of the minuscule boxes.

I was discussing on Monday with the ASA how to avoid plagiarism with e-assessments.

I mentioned Nottingham University medical students attending a computer-based assessment. I mentioned software that can spot plagiarism. I struggled however with the kind of forms the ASA uses as these tests seem to be have written with the EXAMINER in mind … i.e. to make them easy to mark. Which also makes it easy to cheat. The answer is the same, not open to interpretation. More or less. This isn’t strictly fair … papers are returned covered in red ink – I have redone one paper.

There has to be a sign in process that is used to identify a person.

How many people cheat? Is it such a problem?

Apparently so. Even with certificates and qualifications it appears easy to falsify documents. And often, these determined people are excellent teachers/coaches who have learn their trade as competitive swimmers and/or on the job, so they know what they are doing, they simply don’t have the piece of paper.

Memory Cards

I also have in front of me a set of handwritten cards given to me by a colleague who has just taken her Level II Coaching certificate. She failed the written paper. She used these cards to test herself. My intention is to put these into Spaced-Ed, as an exercise, possibly to create or to begin to create a useful learning tool.

I like the way Space-Ed prompts you over the week, tests you on a few things, then leaves you alone. You have time to assimilate the information. Is it easy learning? It is easier learning … nothing beats a period of concerted effort and self-testing to verify that you know something or not.

Whether electronic, or paper … or the spoken word, there is always a bridge to gap, a translation, as it were, of the information a person wants or needs to assimilate and this assimilation process.

Common to all is EFFORT.

Do you work hard at it for longer periods of time … or divide the task up into smaller chunks? Which works best? For you, or anyone? Is there a definitive answer? No. It will vary for you, as with anyone else. It will vary by motivation, inclination, time available, the nature and importance of the topic, the degree to which this topic is covered in print or online, or in workshops and in the workplace. In deed, my contention, would be that the greater the variety of ways to engage with the information the better it will be retained and the more useful it will be when required in a myriad of ways to be applied or is called upon.

On reflection

I learn from writing something out by hand. I learn again when I type it up. I may not be engaging with it ‘in the workplace;’ but there is engagement non the less through my eyes, hands and fingers. Similarly the person who wrote out this pack of 71 cards (both sides written up) was preparing themselves, afterall, for a written exam. She knows her stuff poolside, her struggle (as I know is the case for many) is translating this into exam-like responses in a highly false setting, away from a pool, from swimmers, having to read words to respond in text, rather than reading an athlete (observation) and responding with a fixing drill or exercise.

Accessibility to Learning

Fig. 1. English: A collection of pictograms. Three of them used by the United States National Park Service. A package containing those three and all NPS symbols is available at the Open Icon Library (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  1. Accessible examinations and assessments Are the particular assessments or examinations are core to the course?
  2. What adjustments are permissible within particular assessments or examinations without compromise to academic, or other prescribed, standards, such as competences required by professional bodies?
  3. Is the successful achievement of the highest grades and awards, based on performance in examinations and other assessments, equally attainable by disabled students?

These three questions are universal. Offered in a table, as part of a questionnaire they should be answered by a variety of people up and down the chain of command – from assessors and tutors, through courseware designers to subject matters and the dean of faculty – or some such. I gave these some thought in four different contexts: teaching swimming coaches as the Amateur Swimming Association’s Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 Teaching Aquatics levels; admissions policy at the university of Oxford (as an alumnus and having had some involvement in seeking ways to attract and keep more students from the state sector) and opening colleges to women … and knowing fellow students who had a range of disabilities who were, one way or another, accommodated, from considerable mobility issues to mental illness and dyslexia

I’d ask various further questions:

  • What kind of adjustments should we reasonably be expected to make to accommodate students with disabilities?
  • What does our research say about the attraction of certain courses or the problems that have been encountered. What have we addressed and fixed? Where do the current problems lie?
  • Do we meet the criteria of the DDA? If so, is this enough? Is the bar too low? How much do we wish to do?
  • Are we communicating policy at all stages from advertising courses, faculties and colleges – to the assessment process and examinations, the results expected and how these will be achieved?
  • (Oxford) Are we or should we proactively seek to attract students with disabilities just as we have been seeking to address  imbalances of students from the state sector and of women?
  • Should we seek to attain a certain % in the student population of students with representative disabilities?
  • Are there colleges or faculties or individual champions which have a vision that is either more for or against such accommodation?
  • What student bodies exist, university funded or student organised, around support for disabled students?

Putting content online, or simply the universal digitization of resources, immediately creates opportunities for students with disabilities who can then apply technology to enhance or adjust the may the content is communicated, shared or discussed in keeping with their needs, expectations, experiences and ambitions. Improving opportunities has to be a two way process, working with the students who have or have not found ways around or through barriers whilst seeking to offer, suggest and offer services, whether software, assistive technologies or other interventions (assistants, scribes, parking, physical access to building, facilities).

In relation to disabled students who needs to know what? After an audit of awareness who then needs to improve their knowledge and awareness? If there is a blank requirement for basic awareness, at what levels and to what degree can further training be provided to that understanding is fully integrated horizontally and vertically.

  • Do we need ethical and moral guidance?
  • Should the university vision or mission statement be adjusted?
  • Where are we taking legal advice from? Is the legal position fully understood by those who need to know?

The piece by the mature student using Dragon speech software in an exam was revealing:

  • He had been using it for two months previous to the exam (like learning the piano, I would have got far further along the learning curve so that as I suer I felt I could make the technology sing – for some the right pen or pencil is crucial to exam preparation.)
  • Allowing for the idiosyncracies of the programme
  • Started the exam much the same as anyone else – with fear and trepidation

‘My exam results proved that although I may not be able to express myself with the technical aptitude of most people my age and intelligence using this equipment I was at least able to demonstrate that I had been working and learning’.

Making adjustments to accommodate students for different exams will be tricky. Various questions have to be answered:

  1. Is the assessment or examination is core to the course?
  2. What adjustments are permissible without compromise to academic, or other prescribed standards or competencies?
  3. Are the highest grades and awards, based on performance in examinations and other assessments, equally attainable by disabled students?

It strikes me that greater transparency and collaboration is necessary. This would be beneficial, but is also apt in the modern paradigm of e-learning. See it as an opportunity to review course content in a different way.

Excellent, broad, clear communication is required. Faculties need to go out of their way to be sure students have understood when they apply for the course and as the course plays out.

As the paper states:

Assessment strategies should be:

  1. properly designed and kept under review
  2. rigorous, consistent and at an appropriate level
  3. effective measures of student attainment
  4. able to guarantee the validity, equity and reliability of assessments.

On the basis the QAA standards have already been followed, further improvements to satisfy a range or disabilities ought to be possible. Broadening the reach would be recommended across visual, hearing, mobility and cognitive impairments.

Assessment is a pedagogical tool

These milestones, these hurdles are key to embedding learning and to starting the process of making it stick. Repetition of testing on the same subject improves the chances of it being remembered – a test in the real world, applied to a problem or task that is repeated is similar to an assessment, and as in the real world, repeated assessments, like a challenge, need to be different each time in scope, scale, context and outcomes.

The examination is one thing, marking is another. It isn’t simply guidelines on how the exam will be set and assessed, but the desires of the student, their goals and the expectations and ambitions of their peer group, college, profession and family.

Learning from the way in which the Paralympics take place – an ultimate test, I wonder if students with disabilities might also achieve a classification related to their disability. In this way, if, for example, awarded a 2.2 a letter or code might be affixed to it.

Fairness is debatable and it would have to be transparent, which in turn expects comment and criticism so therefore requires both the mechanisms and people to respond and to take action. This is therefore an additional cost, technically to provide the means of transparency, feedback and communication, but also in recruiting, retaining and supervising full-time or part-time personnel to undertake these tasks.

It strikes me that an institution or department, through an individual champion and with some credible followers, need to embrace accessibility and then follow through on a case by case basis, writing up and sharing experiences so that knowledge can be shared and where found barriers removed, reduced or circumvented. As a swimming club, proximity of special needs schools, practitioners and a flexible pool operator means that we have many disabled swimmers with a variety of needs. The club has become a regional hub for best practice. The lessons learnt, the expertise and the development of helpers, assistant teachers and coaches all contribute to the knowledge pool. Similar hubs are required within organisations – educational institutions or companies, if the diversity of possibilities for people with disabilities are to be met.

If only it were as simple as considering dietary needs in a restaurant, whether vegetarian or vegan, or allergies to certain foods.

Pointless second guessing the detail if once in a blue moon someone appears on a course or module with one of these disabilities.

Again from sport, and following on from insights from the Paralympics:

I wonder if there would be value in a log book and portfolio, more than just a blog and e-portfolio, but a detailed transferable record, including medical record, exam attainment, accommodations made in the past (successful and failures)  …  meeting certain criteria so at various times a students progress can be monitored and where assessments take place a judgement taken accordingly. In swimming athletes keep a log-book of training and test sets, as well as galas and land training … as times achieved over various distances swimming different strokes are constantly monitored it matters that they include periods of ill-health and absence, even physical growth or weight gain.

Reflection and the need or otherwise of compulsory interaction in e-learning

Assessing your capacity to reflect ‘on your development’

  • In the Masters in Open and Distance Education Course Guide for module H808 (p.7) it says that “we regard [the reflective commentary] as equally academic because it deals with knowledge that is constructed during the course. (Although this knowledge is more subjective and not intended to be confirmed or refuted, rather it is self-knowledge for the writer)”
  • Cognitive Housekeeping

    • Moon (2001) draws on other theorists such as Schon, Dewey and Kolb in her paper. I had never questioned why certain work events make me reflect and others do not, but I think the point about reflecting on complex and challenging issues/events, as a means of ‘cognitive housekeeping’ resonated with my personal experience. A Student.
    • I think assignments are designed as prototype reflections for the final course assignment, perhaps to help with the unfamiliarity/unease and get us used to reflective writing before the assignment (as Moon suggests, reflection as a gradual process aimed at getting students started, then deepening their reflections). Another Student.

    ‘involving emotions helps to promote reflectiveness.Moon (2002) cited in Salmon (2002)

    Moon (2005) describes reflection as an essential component of good quality learning and the representation of that learning. A Student

    (Moon, 1999a) as the reflection itself helps learners realize the depth of their knowledge and understanding therefore the notion of reflection functions as means of learning something new as well as harmonizing prior knowledge and experiences in the process. A Student

    This process of arriving at an idea of what is absent on the basis of what is at hand is inference. What is present carries of bears the mind over to the idea and ultimately the acceptance of something else.” (Dewey 1933:190) A Student

    Jenny Moon suggests that learners undertake either a deep or surface approach towards a learning task.

    A deep approach is seen when the learner understands the meaning whilst a surface approach focuses on memorizing the material as it is by not trying to connect it with previous understanding. Developing a deep approach to a learning task as an ideal path can be well achieved with the help of giving learners the chance to represent learning in different ways, in the form of a presentation, graphic display, mind mapping, essay writing, forum posting, keeping a learning journal, logs, diaries, portfolios, peer-reviewing and personal development planning. Another Student

    Phyliss Creme (2005) The compulsory nature of core activities might support the underlying approach that reflective activity “should be recognized part of the assessment process; otherwise students would not take them seriously”

    Building our professional development portfolio in four areas of competency; practice-related, communication-related, technology-related and research-related support formal assessment with different ways of thinking rather than the traditional means.

    Especially at initials stages of a reflective activity learners would need a reader to reach at for feedback and this is possible with the help of blogging tools.

    As Creme (2005) observes in the 10-week course, “One or more of the two-hour seminars was given over to the students reading each other’s journals. This was generally very productive, the most useful outcome being the students’ growing respect for each other’s work and realizing how diverse each other’s experiences, thinking and way of writing could be”.

    REFERENCE

    Crème, P. (2005) ‘Should student learning journals be assessed?’, Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, vol. 30, no. 3, pp. 287–96. Available from: http://www.informaworld.com.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/smpp/section?content=a713605501&fulltext=713240928 (accessed 30 Sept 2010).

    Moon, J. (2001) ‘PDP working paper 4: reflection in higher education learning’ (online), The Higher Education Academy. Available from: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/York/documents/resources/resourcedatabase/id72_Reflection_in_Higher_Education_Learning.rtf (accessed 25 Sept 2010).

    Moon, J. (2005) ‘Guide for busy academics no. 4: learning through reflection’ (online), The Higher Education Academy. Available from: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/York/documents/resources/resourcedatabase/id69_guide_for_busy_academics_no4.doc (accessed 28 Sept 2010).

    Salmon, G (2002) E-tivities
    Smith, M. (1996) ‘Reflection: what constitutes reflection – and what significance does it have for educators? The contributions of Dewey, Schön, and Boud et al. assessed’ (online), The Encyclopaedia of Informal Education. Available from: http://www.infed.org/biblio/b-reflect.htm (accessed 21 Sept 2010).

    Deeply disappointed and feeling let down by the OU … or the course

    Somehow despite my best efforts to understand fully what was required for TMA03 I still didn’t follow the question apparently … frankly fellow students and I tied ourselves in knots trying to understand what was required of us. Coming away from this I eventually felt sure I had understood what it would take and with confidence pressed on.

    Coming down to the reflection, this is what I did. Eleven drafts, constantly checking back against the TMA and tutor’s messages … yet still, apparently, I am way off brief. This is my reflection, not my tutor’s. This is what I think, what I took from the exercise … my view and it should have been recognised as such.

    Earlier in this course I described a TMA as ‘making a tapestry.’ I thought at least it would be MY tapestry, as I have no desire to make someonelse’s . This has reduced academic thinking to playing puppet with others pulling the strings.

    Considerably demotivated as a result and not at all happy.

    TMA03 doesn’t work. It is demonstrably complex and specific in its requirements, yet a simple request to see an example answer, probably the only way to understand what was expected was turned down.

    A futile exercise on which I expended a vast amount of effort collating 34 messages to get down to 10, and sifted through the 300+ points/references collated in MyStuff.

    The ultimate failure is the system. Pure e-learning is NOT to be recommended if it is a the price of poor communication. Because this is what it is. A face to face meeting with my tutor would have resolved the issues … maybe I cannot understand anything unless I can read the person and their mind as well as their words.

    I recall in various workshops asking questions and finding that both the tutor and I are left befuddled; seeing this a fellow student steps in, sees where there is a breakdown in communication and offers and answer that makes sense. On reflection, I should have pressed on, despite the failings of the system, and kept saying …

    But I don’t understand. What I didn’t need is do this, say this, and join the dots. I needed to understand WHY? What was TMA03 driving at? Is it indeed even possible to answer the questions … which isn’t a question at all.

    Ultimately far too much of it is a value judgement by the person reading the TMA and I believe a very different mark would come from a second or a third reader – all higher.

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