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The Open University’s Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE).

Fig. 1. The Open University’s Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE).

Expressed as a Wordle. A personal collection of key influencers based on those tagged in this blog. Includes my own reading and indulgences.

On Friday, at midday, My OU student blog reached a significant milestone.

I’ve been at it for 33 months. I’ve blogged the best part of FIVE modules now – most of which required or invited some use of the blog platform (or another). I required little encouragement – I used to keep a diary and have found since 1999 that in their digital form they are an extraordinarily versatile way to gather, consider, share and develop ideas.

The investment in time, on average, an hour a day in addition to – though sometimes instead of coursework over 1000+ days.

(This excludes 8 months I spent on the Masters in Open and Distance Learning in 2001)

To mark this event, and as I need to go through this online diary, this e-journal, this ‘web-log’ (as they were also once momentarily called) ahead of some exciting meetings coming up next week I thought a simple task might be to click through the tags to identify who have been the key influencers in my reading and thinking over the last two and a half years.

Fig.2. Another way of looking at it.

Beetham, Conole and Weller are key MAODE authors from the Open University. John Seely Brown is a vital undercurrent, Engestrom one of several enthusiasms like Vygostky. While Gagne, second hand hardback, needs to be on your desk for frequent reference.

What I thought would take an hour has taken nearly 40 hours.

Clicking on a tag opens a corner of my head, the notes take me back to that day, that week, that assignment or task. It also takes me back to the discussions, resources and papers. And when I find an error the proof-reader in me has to fix. Aptly, as we approach November 5th, and living in Lewes where there are marches and fireworks from late October for a couple of weeks peaking of course all evening on the 5th, my head feels as if someone has accidentally set light to a box of assorted fireworks.

Just as well. Meetings these days are like a viva voce with eager ears and probing questions – they want the content of my mind and whatever else I bring to the subject after thirty years in corporate training and communications.

Fig. 3. Wordle allows you to say how many words you want to include in the mix.

To create weight I had to repeat the names I consider most important twice, three or four times in the list. I also removed first names as Wordle would have scattered these into the mix independently like peppercorns in a pan of vegetable stock.

The Task

    • List all authors who have been part of my learning and thinking over the last couple of years.
  • Include authors that my antennae have picked up that are relevant to my interest in learning, design, the moving image and the english language.
  • Visualise this and draw some conclusions

Fig.4. This even makes three of the key protagonists look like an advertising agency Gagne, Beetham and Conole.

The Outcome

I can never finish. Take this morning. I stumble upon my notes on three case studies on the use of e-portfolios from H807 which I covered from February 2010-September 2010. To begin with I feel compelled to correct the referencing in order to understand the value, pertinence and good manners (let alone the legal duty) to cite things correctly. (Even though this post was locked – a ‘private’ dump of grabs and my thoughts).

Then I add an image or two.

These days I feel a post requires a visual experssion of its contents to open and benefits from whatever other diagrams, charts or images you can conjure from your mind or a Google Search – ‘the word’ + images creative commons – is how I play it.

Fig. 5. From David Oglivy’s book ‘Ogilvy on advertising‘ – a simple suggestion – a striking image, a pertinent headline and always caption the picture. Then write your body copy.

A background in advertising has something to do with this and the influence of David Ogilvy.

I spend over two hours on the first of three case studies in just one single post. At the time I rubbished e-portfolios. The notes and references are there. Tapped back in I can now make something of it. A second time round the terms, the ideas – even some of the authors are familiar. It makes for an easier and relevant read. What is more, it is current and pertinent. A blog can be a portfolio – indeed this is what I’d recommend.

From time to time I will have to emerge from this tramp through the jungle of my MAODE mind.

Not least to work, to sleep, to cook and play.

Fig. 6. In a word

USEFUL LINKS

Wordle

Date duration calculator

REFERENCE

Gagne, R.N. (1965) Conditions of Learning Holt, Rinehart and Winston

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Creative Technique: Working with Dreams and/or Keeping a Dream Diary

This from B822 Creativity, Innovation and Change which ended in April.

Several reasons why as a technique it is out of the reach if most of us and impractical as a management tool.

a) What good is it ‘dreaming up’ something at random.

b) That has nothing to do with the course.

I found myself giving a presentation to an eager group in a crowded boardroom. I don’t know why.

‘and Jonathan is going to give you the criteria’.

And up I step, in a two piece suit with the manner of Montgomery addressing the troops – effusive, informed, consided and persuasive.

It went something like this:

“We human are blessed with an innate ability to float in water, though not necessarily fully clothed, or carrying a backpack and rifle.”

Laughter.

“We should encourage swimming for a number of reasons: for the love of it, as a life skill, as a competitive sport and for fitness’.

At which point I am full conscious, which from a dream state meant ‘I lost it’.

Why this dream?

I am reading a good deal on the First World War and I am swimming four or more times a week again after a long, slow easing back into the sport over the lt five months. I even got papers through yesterday which I only opened late in the evening before going to bed to say that I had passed the ASA Level 3 module on Sports Psychology (which makes 10// modules down on that ‘Front’.

Working with dreams

This from B822 Creativity, Innovation and Change which ended in April.

Several reasons why as a technique it is out of the reach if most of us and impractical as a management tool.

a) What good is it ‘dreaming up’ something at random.

b) That has nothing to do with the course.

I found myself giving a presentation to an eager group in a crowded boardroom. I don’t know why.

‘and Jonathan is going to give you the criteria’.

And up I step, in a two piece suit with the manner of Montgomery addressing the troops – effusive, informed, considered and persuasive.

It went something like this:

“We human are blessed with an innate ability to float in water, though not necessarily fully clothed, or carrying a backpack and rifle.”

Laughter.

“We should encourage swimming for a number of reasons: for the love of it, as a life skill, as a competitive sport and for fitness’.

At which point I am full conscious, which from a dream state meant ‘I lost it’.

Why this dream?

I am reading a good deal on the First World War and I am swimming four or more times a week again after a long, slow easing back into the sport over the lt five months. I even got papers through yesterday which I only opened late in the evening before going to bed to say that I had passed the ASA Level 3 module on Sports Psychology (which makes 10/11  modules down on that ‘Front’.

Learning, or rather teaching as a form of education is moving towards greater fluidity and liveliness in the relationship between the academic (author/lecturer) and the student.

Fig. 1. Digital Scholarship (Vernon, 2011)

I’ve drawn on ideas from the Masters in Open & Distance Education (MAODE) that I have been studying with The OU since February 2010. Also ‘The Digital Scholar’ by Martin Weller and ‘Preparing for blended e-learning’ by Chris Pegler.

I come to the conclusion that learning, or rather teaching as a form of education is moving towards greater fluidity and liveliness in the relationship between the academic (author/lecturer) and the student.

The model education should look to is one developed in business, something I stumble upon studying OU MBA Module ‘Creativity, Innovation & Change’

Drawing on a business model, the development of a more organic structure that is less hierarchical, as envisaged by Henry Mintzberg (1994), seems appropriate; it complements what authors such as John Seely Brown say about ‘learning from the periphery’ too. Mintzberg talks of an adhocracy, doodle here when I was making hand-drawn mind-maps during revision for an end of module exam (EMA).

Adhocracy

Characteristics of an adhocracy (Waterman, 1990; Mintzberg, 1994; Travica, 1999):

  • highly organic structure
  • little formalization of behavior
  • job specialization based on formal training
  • a tendency to group the specialists in functional units for housekeeping purposes but to deploy them in small, market-based project teams to do their work
  • a reliance on liaison devices to encourage mutual adjustment within and between these teams
  • low standardization of procedures
  • roles not clearly defined
  •  selective decentralization
  •  work organization rests on specialized teams
  • power-shifts to specialized teams
  • horizontal job specialization
  • high cost of communication (dramatically reduced in the networked age)
  • culture based on non-bureaucratic work

One could also draw on a simpler organic structure developed, again in the MBA arena, by Charles Handy.

Handy’s Shamrock (1989)

The advantage of a flexible organisation is that it can react quickly to a change in its external environment.

Since the 1990s, firms have examined their value chain and tried to reduce their workforce to a multi-skilled core, which is concerned with the creation or delivery of a product or service. All other supporting, non-central functions are outsourced wherever possible to the periphery.

Charles Handy suggested, however, that organisations do not consist of just the Core and the Periphery, since the periphery can be subdivided.

He calls this a shamrock organisation:

  • The first leaf of the shamrock represents the multi-skilled core of professional technicians and managers, essential to the continuity of the business
  • The second leaf Handy calls the contractual fringe, because non central activities are contracted out to firms specialising in activities such as marketing, computing, communications and research
  • The third leaf consists of a flexible workforce made up of part-time, temporary and seasonal workers.

However, the model I constantly turn to is the Activity System of Engestrom (via Vygotsky).

From E-LEARNING

which also has its organic expression, not dissimilar to the Mintzberg concentric organisational plan and John Seely Brown’s ideas of learning from the periphery:

A Mycorrihizae fungi

In the spirit of digital scholarship I’ve been experimenting with using Twitter to share thoughts on more than one book as I read them, highlighting a point and adding a Tweet. The feedback has been interesting, as has been the influx of new Twitter followers, invariable all with an academic or commercial interest in e-learning.

So come and join the feed, though from time to time you will receive tips on swim teaching best practice (how to fix a screw kick in breaststroke and some such) or as likely thoughts on life in the trenches as a machine gunner as we approach the centenary of the First World War.

Fig. 2. Expanding ideas with multiple e-tivities and assets online. Vernon (2010)

I’d like to see this offered as an APP or Tool so that digital assets (stuff) or ‘E-tivities’ (Salmon, 2002) are automatically aggregated as a fluid, initial offer. In other words, assets are seen as a way of catalysing a process of exploration.

REFERENCE

Brown, J.S., Collins.A., Duguid, P., (1989) Situated Cognition and the Culture of Learning. Educational Researcher, Vol. 18, No. 1 (Jan. – Feb., 1989), pp. 32-42 American Educational Research Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1176008 . Accessed: 05/03/2011 13:10

Engeström (2001) article, Expansive learning at work: toward an activity theoretical reconceptualisation

Handy, C (1989) The Age of Unreason

Mintzberg, H (1994), The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning: Reconceiving the Roles for Planning, Plans, Planners, Free Press, pp. 458, ISBN 0-02-921605-2

Salmon, G (2002) E-tivities. The key to online learning

Travica, B (1999) New Organizational Designs: Information Aspects, Ablex/Greenwood, ISBN 1-56750-403-5, Google Print, p.7

Vernon, J.F. (2010-2012) Open University Student Blog

Vernon, J.F. (2011) Mindmaps, screen grabs and other e-learning ephemera

Vygotsky, L.S. (1978) Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press.

Waterman, R. H. (1990). Adhocracy: The power to change. The Larger agenda series. Knoxville, Tenn: Whittle Direct Books.

On keeping a dream diary: creative problem solving techniques

I had a dream like is when I was 10 or 11 in Beamish Dormitory at Boarding Prep School. I was set upon by two musketeers and killed. I returned to the same dream the next night behind them and ‘got them’ first. I guess I had learnt how to cope with some set of shifting boy, gang, friendships.

I’m not at home and was woken two often last night: doors banging, couple chatting above my head, dog barking and a fax machine going off. This woke me in the middle of a recurring dream that related to a database of over 100 videos I am reviewing.

Currently I have a database, in columns and rows in Word.

It is hard to read. I need a simple way to see, share and add to this.

My dreams gave me ‘Top Trumps’.

A quick Google shows why this works: a screen grab, some basic facts on a single sheet (or card). I could even order a bespoke pack.

On keeping a dream diary: creative problem solving techniques

I had a dream like is when I was 10 or 11 in Beamish Dormitory at Boarding Prep School. I was set upon by two musketeers and killed. I returned to the same dream the next night behind them and ‘got them’ first. I guess I had learnt how to cope with some set of shifting boy, gang, friendships.

I’m not at home and was woken two often last night: doors banging, couple chatting above my head, dog barking and a fax machine going off. This woke me in the middle of a recurring dream that related to a database of over 100 videos I am reviewing.

Currently I have a database, in columns and rows in Word.

It is hard to read. I need a simple way to see, share and add to this.

My dreams gave me ‘Top Trumps’.

A quick Google shows why this works: a screen grab, some basic facts on a single sheet (or card). I could even order a bespoke pack.

10 mind-maps of the precepts required to deliver creative problem solving successfully

1

2

3

4

From OU MBA B822 'Creativity, Innovation and Change'

5

From OU MBA B822 'Creativity, Innovation and Change'

6

From OU MBA B822 'Creativity, Innovation and Change'

7

From OU MBA B822 'Creativity, Innovation and Change'

8

From OU MBA B822 'Creativity, Innovation and Change'

9

From OU MBA B822 'Creativity, Innovation and Change'

10

From OU MBA B822 'Creativity, Innovation and Change'

From a team perspective Bill Gates is an adaptor and Steve Jobs an innovator

Re-reading the Steve Jobs biography with four months in hand before another MAODE module I am struck by what it tells you about Gates and Jobs and how self-evidently one is an adaptor ‘doing things better’ while the other is an innovator ‘doing things differently’.

This drawn from doing a KAI personality innoventory and all the reading around these tests for B822.

I came out at 144 on a scale of 160; I’d envisage Jobs as somwhere on the outer edges of 150 while Gates gets a 20 or 30, neither would be in the 60-130 zone for two thirds of respondents.

If they ever did one ofthese are the results known?

As most managers do observation and experience of a person’s behaviour and responses must suffice.

I feel a desire to revisit H807 ‘Innovations in E-learning’ while mixing it up with B822 ‘Creativity, Innovation and Change’.

I can do this through the 1000+ entries I have here and by refreshing my mind from the current and archived blogs of others blogging here currently (though few if any blog there way through the MBA programme and I am yet to find anyone blogging about B822).

Are you in the flow? What about your team? Where do they stand?

The value of being taught in a classroom or workshop is that the tutor can draw on their knowledge to suit the moment.

This is one of the most memorable images I will take from the OU MBA module ‘Creativity Innovation & Change’ because married with other things I came to understand about myself it represents when things go well and when they do not, what it takes for me to be in the ‘flow’ is a narrow band of frenetic activity, the night before a live show, the morning of a live broadcast on location, swimmers in the warm up at a big competition … as well as quiet though equally engaged periods with a drawing or piece of fiction.

As a manager you want everyone in the flow do you not?

A team of types who complete a variety of tasks required to see a project through to its successful conclusion.

Complementing this is Kirton’s Adaptor Innovator Scores, knowing if someone’s preferred operating style is to ‘do things better’ or ‘to do things differently’.

Mind-dumps and daisies: the perfect way to prepare for and plan for an exam

Not only did I write one of these in my OU MBA Module exam (B822 Creativity, Innovation & Change), I even drew it as the essay plan for one question. Large and bold with space to annotate my six ideas into each petal and to scribble down some thoughts on the introduction and conclusion (up and down the stem).

I doodled mnemonics on the themes  around the petals.

I gave myself 5 minutes per theme and 10 minutes to get into and out of the topic.

I suppose I wrote 200 to 350 words per theme.

Pegging works. 

They may not look very pretty but anagrams, sayings and mnemonics all have their place. However, you have to fix them in your head, which includes all of the senses. 

I had to visualise a couple of my mnemonic lists (VAN BECK CLIMB)as a short walk through our house seeing hockey sticks and flippers in the porch at the front door (playfulness), a woman sitting on the stairs with a broken tennis racket (adopt a set to break sets), at the top of the landing another woman cuddling an infant (it was always there, nurture it), then a massive Damien Hirst butterfly picture on the wall (broad picture, local detail) and so on ... people in a room, riding a bicycle (oh yes!), then for key components of a 'messy' problem '[I could use a colourful swimming costume: ICUACSC) a photograph of James Mason perched on the end of springboard with a Russian looking girl called Olga Mitroff.
In both cases I used this in the exam, quoting 'Mason and Mitroff' and drawing in what I saw as I walked through the house. 

I ended up with 5 mnemonics per block, some only three letters, as in VATCC and CAPO.

VATC the caveats to using a personality inventory:

  • Validation
  • Acceptance
  • Technical considerations
  • Cost
That's 15 which a week on I still know as: POVCC, MHIVE, and MDMAP ...if you can see it these are 'point of view', 'Maldhives' and 'Mindmap'. 
These 15 key letters gave me the longer mnemonics and phrases. All of this I practiced and on the day filled a 'rough book' in 10 minutes. When it came to looking at the questions, with one exception, the fit was immediate. With the third I had to cherry pick from what I had laid out. 
It took time to embed these pegs in my cerebellum, but if you want to sit down to an exam, turn the question page and develop a knowing Mona Lisa smile this is the way to do it.
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