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The value of networking face to face not just online

In the spirit of doing something different in order to effect change I attended a ‘Get Together’ organised by Wired Sussex and took the attitude that i would be open to everything and say ‘yes’ to all. Over two hours I listened to, shared with and learnt from Neil, Gerry, Olly, Karla, Tristan, Simon, Michael … and ‘TV Simon’ as I will call him to differentiated from business managing Simon16 (number of employees). I only remember the people, what they said and names to faces as, shared with them, I did this thing of pegging a face to a place on a familiar journey – walking through the house. And so I found Carla at the front door designing jewellery, Gerry on the stairs coaching folk in life skills, Tristan enteringmy bathroom talking agile eaterfalls, Kanban abd SCRUM techniques while Simon was on the landing with our dog – his blonge haird and scruffy beard in keeping with our blonde Labradoodle perhaps? Olly was in the garden talking to John, while Neil moved away and subsequently left. These are only those I met. There is no so much to follow up on: things to do, things to research, people to get back in touch with. So here’s me making some kind of public promise to do so, including having a business card by the time of the next meet up. I own the domain name ‘Mind Bursts’ which is where I plan to seed ideas and seek ways for them to flourish and bare fruit.

Much of the conversation came from my experience of the Open University’s Master of Arts on Open and Distance Education in general (graduated in 2012) and the module H818: The Networked Practitioner that ends tomorrow having submitted End of Module Assignments last week.

Teenagers and technology

Fig.1. Letters from Iwa Jima. Clint Eastwood directed Movie.

In one of those bizarre, magic ways the brain works, last nigmt I watched the Clint Eastwood film ‘Letters from Iwo Jima’ then stayed up reading in bed (quest for a very specific paper/set of papers on teenagers/young adults, health, presription medication) while waiting for my own teenagers to come in from a concert in Brighton.

Fig.2. Last minute reading for H809 TMA01

I stumbled upon ‘Teenagers and Technology’ by Chris Davies and Rebecca Eynon.

After a chapter of this I did a One Click on Amazon and kept on reading through the next couple of chapters.

I kept reading once they got home.

My mind constructed a dream in which instead of bagging letters home from soldiers, I found myself, Japanese of course, constructing, editing and reassembling some kind of scroll or poster. I could ‘re-enter’ this dream but frankly don’t see the point – it seems self-evident. I’ll be cutting and pasting my final thoughts, possibly literally on a 6ft length of backing wall paper (I like to get away from a keyboard and screen from time to time). Reinforced by a Business School module, B822 Creativity Innovation and Change I found that ‘working with dreams’ and ‘keeping a dream diary’ are some of the tools that can be used.

If I wish to I could re-enter this dream over the next few months as a short cut to my subconscious.

We’ll see.

I’m not sure how you’d come up with a Harvard Reference for a dream.

Fig.3. fMRI scan – not mine, though they did me a few years ago

Perhaps in 20 years time when we can where an fMRI scanner like a pair of headphones a set of colourised images of the activity across different parts of the brain could be offered.

Dream on 🙂

Here in Lewes we shut the town centre down for a march as often as we can.

It all stems from 5th November. We had only been here a couple of months and we were enrolled in a Bonfire Society. That was 13 years ago.

The town also has a Moving on parade for all primary schools in the district, not just the town, but from outlying villages. The town centre is closed to traffic and kids, dressed up, carrying banners and whatnot on a theme, march through town and end it with a party in the Paddock – a large field, formerly part of the earthworks around the 11th century Lewes Castle.

It helps to make an occasion of something when we move on. We’re rather good at it:

  • Christenings
  • Marriage
  • Death
  • Birthdays
  • Anniversaries
  • Graduation

I’m down for Brighton or will try to enroll in Versailles for my graduation. I skipped my first nearly three decades ago. I just didn’t feel like moving on. I hadn’t felt I’d had an education to justify the fuss. My fault, not theirs. I put in the hours and came out with an OK degree but that isn’t why I’ll remember my undergraduate years.

I should mark moving on, and away from this blog. It logs, day by day, and in the background countless pages of hidden notes. It has carried me through the Masters in Open & Distance Education.

H809, my bonus track, will mark the end.

For this reason I am migrating most of the content and the journey it records to an external blog.

My Mind Bursts

From time to time I’ll post a note at the bottom of the page to say this is where it’ll be from June.

My moving on.

By May, I’ll also know if the next few years have been set up. We’ll see. I may even be back at the OU in some capacity. I rather

 

My interactive, web-based, online, offline, inline, e-learning journey to date

I entered this field in 1999/2000 and have migrated rich content from DVD to the web, and for the last three years have been studying with the OU on their MAODE while keeping up some professional activity – working in Brighton companies have a short shelf life as ideas, people, projects, software and platforms get picked up or crushed, spun around then spat out.

There’s constant agitation – on the one hand careful evolution, on the other, a desire by some to be the first with a revolution.

It all goes into the mix.

My view is that we need to feed content to tablets and smartphones and look beyond these to a headset and ear-piece.

Personally I’d like to have chips in my teeth so that I can activate a device without having to use fingers or voice 🙂

M-learning stands for mouth learning?!

The skin removed from a human body reveals a mess.

Plastination of a Ballet Dancer

The skin removed from a human body reveals a mess.

The walls removed from a business does the same. It has happened whether or not we like it, even without Wikileaks we are revealing more of ourselves than ever before.

Glass Skull by Rudat

Our minds are a mess if our sculls are made of glass: mine is, I expose and disclose and share my thougts.

Posting notes isn’t laziness, it is mess: it is ‘messy stuff’.

It is the beginning of something, or the end, it is both unstarted and unfinished. Notes go down well in our ‘wiki- world’ as it makes space for others to interject, to correct and fix in a way that feels less like criticism and more like collaboration.

Once was a time I’d pick out every misplaced apostrophe, especially concerning ‘its’, now I care less, ditto spelling. Would I have hewrd the incorrect apostrophe on the possessive of its? Would I have known that I’d hit the ‘w’ key instead of the ‘a’ typing as I am with my left hsnd only propped up in bed. And what about the missing ‘h’ I’ve left out of ‘thougts’?

Too late, I’ve said it now and my next idea is coming through.

Diffusion of Innovations – Picking this up a year ago at the start of the Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) I couldn’t relate to it.

I hadn’t enough experience of ‘e-moderators’, the term Gilly Salmon uses for Tutors (also Associate Lecturers). A year on I appreciate the complexity of the role, and potentially the considerable demand on their time and efforts to help us students sing – it can’t always happen. If we are a choir, then at times we have to learn to practice in small groups in our own time.

‘E-tivities’ is a must read at any time. You may not agree with the five-stage approach to online learning but I’d go this route until you know better from experience; i.e. play a game that has rules and works before you make up your own.

It should be a game. It should be playful.

It can be. It often is. I don’t tinker away at the QWERTY keyboard like this if I didn’t enjoy it; as Andrew Sullivan puts it, this is jazz. These ideas the latest from John Seely Brown. Remember in his lecture to the Open University he described it as ‘Bringing Coals to Newcastle’ (Week 1 or 3, H800).

That is respect for the Open University who remain the leaders worldwide.

As Lord Putnam, the OU Chancellor put it, ‘It’s as if the Open University was waiting for the Internet’. From TV and Radio, with books, videos and CDs sent out computer-based and now e-learning was and is pioneered right here.

More of this then.

And I’ve made a start on this, the seminal John Seely Brown publication:

I do like a good read, something cover to cover (though these days as a e-book, it does make highlighting and note taking massively easier). And we want to share what we think about what these guys say? I put my notes in the OU e-portfolio My Stuff so could/can share pages from there. Just ask.

I can’t be bothered with this:

I read three chapters nd skimmed through the rest.

I was working in a Brighton-based web-agency in 2000. Ten years ago I would have sung from it. A decade on I find it vacuous hype that occasionally gets it right but often does not.

That said, there are books that I dismiss the first time I look, but can be brought back to sing its praises. Another must read, especially for H807 ‘Innovations in E-learning’ is Roger’s ‘Diffusion of Innovations‘.

Visualising the process and products of learning design

Visualising the process and products of learning design

I will be at CAL ’09 next week in Brighton, and am looking forward to it, in particular some of the sessions and papers which include work from the JISC Curriculum design call. For example, the “challenges of the design pattern paradigm” session and other learning design papers/session. In the meantime I thought I’d put up the poster that my colleagues and I have put together, This poster  entitled “Visualising the process and and products of learning design” will be presented at CAL ’09.

It  is a very short synopsis of the visualisation and representation work we’ve been doing here at the OU. A  version of the poster itself is available for download (click on the image to see a low resolution image of the poster, or on one of the  links to see a higher resolution PDF at either A4 or A0 size):

Image showing “Visualising the process and and products of learning design ” poster

Visualising the process and and products of learning design, A0 sze (pdf, 1.9 Mbyte),

Visualising the process and and products of learning design, A4 size (pdf, 1.1 Mbyte).

Also, a draft of the text of the poster (including the abstract and references) is available here.

Can visual representation work at the curriculum level?

Apart from the design patterns and learning design stuff, one of the other things I would like to explore whilst at the conference is if or how visual representations have been used at programme level (or above). As far as I’m aware, most visual representation work has focused on the activity or course level, and describes interactions involving students and teachers.  But what about the curriculum level? I’m keen to talk to anyone working in this area: please do  contact me if you are, or add a comment below, thanks :-)

CAL ’09 poster text

Abstract

Teachers and media developers go through a complex decision making process when designing new learning experiences – working towards an effective pedagogical mix, combining resources, tools, student and tutor support. For an individual media developer or teacher, the process of creating a visual map of a learning activity clarifies their own understanding of the mix. For teams comprised of individuals focused on different aspects, a visual representation supports communication about issues that need to be resolved before the activity is delivered to students.

This paper focuses on the development of CompendiumLD, a particular strand of work within the OU Learning Design Initiative. CompendiumLD is a tool to represent and visualise learning designs; it is an adaptation of Compendium, an existing knowledge mapping tool. CompendiumLD has been developed iteratively, informed by evidence gathered through a series of interviews with academics, and tested through a series of faculty based workshops. Development has proceeded from changes in the set of icons used to represent components of learning activities, through to specific functionality to support the design of learning activities. This functionality includes context specific learning design help and a set of visual design templates.

Findings to date indicate that most users find the tool easy to use, that it makes the process more explicit and provides a useful vehicle for sharing design ideas with others. Some users are interested in its potential to support both the process of learning design and the production of maps for use by students.

Recently introduced  features include (1) the facility to specify times that students and tutors will spend on specific tasks, producing a running total displayed on the user interface and (2) support for transclusions (intended to help designers  identify reuse of  e.g. tasks or learning objectives. Initial evaluations of these new features will be discussed.

1       Introduction

A learning activity can be conceptualised as a specific interaction of learner(s) with zero or more other(s) using specific tools and resources, orientated towards specific outcomes (Beetham, 2007).  Evidence we have gathered indicates that designing learning activities is inherently messy, creative and iterative, and that choosing  the best combination of tools, resources and tasks for a particular context is difficult (Conole et al., 2008). In the Open University and other distance universities, design is typically carried out by teams composed of people with a variety of specialist skills including academics, programmers, graphic designers, editors and project managers.

2       Aims

Our aim is to research, design and implement a range of tools to support individuals to design effective learning activities, and to enhance the effectiveness of design teams.

One approach we have taken is to apply the concept of ‘knowledge cartography’  to learning design, building on previous work in this area including other visual representations of learning designs (e.g. UML activity diagrams, LAMS).  This has led to the development of a software tool CompendiumLD through which we are exploiting two aspects of mapping, the product and the process.

  • As products maps can visually represent complex relationships between objects, which highlight key elements and connections for a particular purpose
  • Creating a map forces a person to externalise their understanding of the situation, and this process clarifies their understanding of the situation

(Okada, Buckingham Shum, & Sherborne, 2008).

Design processes

In our research  to date we have studied how design  is carried out by individuals and teams within the iterative design cycle which occurs before courses are launched.

We will be studying how CompendiumLD can be used by teachers to  deliver teaching activities, and how it can be used to evaluate the design of activities.

Design products

Snapshots from the design process

The learning design nodes are on the left hand side: these can be dragged and dropped onto the working area. Learning design nodes include

Learning activity

Learning outcome

The nodes can be connected by dragging between them.

Double-clicking on a learning activity opens it

A screen grab of CompendiumLD showing the main working area labelled  “Andrew Brasher’s Home Window”.

Context sensitive prompts appear when nodes are added.

3       Evidence

Empirical evidence gathered to inform the development of CompendiumLD  includes the collection of user requirements (Nixon, 2007), case studies (Wilson, 2007), 12 semi-structured in-depth interviews, and evaluation of workshops and focus groups (Cross, 2008). In January 2009 we began in-depth evaluation of holistic course design, which has and will involve studying course teams’ use of visual representations during the design process over a period of 9 months.  Examples from our evidence base are shown as speech bubbles.

4       In use

Examples illustrating how CompendiumLD can be used within the design process are provided by  snapshot 1 and snapshot 2. Snapshot 1 illustrates an early stage of the  the design process, snapshot 2 a later stage when a more detailed description has been generated and some of the issues that arose in snapshot 1 have been resolved.

5       Conclusions and future work

The qualitative data we have gathered so far indicates that generating a visual representation helps to clarify designers’ intentions, and aids communication of those intentions.  Continuation of the iterative improvement of the tools and methods we have developed is planned for 2009-10, including trials across a range of UK universities. So far our work has focused on the representation of learning activities within a course or module. We will be looking at applying visual representations at different levels, e.g. across degree programmes, and requirements gathering workshops to inform this are planned for later in 2009.

References and further information

Full references for the citations in this poster are available from are available from http://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/brasherblog. Information about CompendiumLD is available from http://compendiumld.open.ac.uk.

Beetham, H. (2007). An approach to learning activity design. In H. Beetham & R. Sharpe (Eds.), Rethinking pedagogy for a digital age: designing and delivering  e-learning (pp. 26-40). Oxford: Routledge.

Conole, G., Brasher, A., Cross, S., Weller, M., Clark, P., & White, J. (2008). Visualising learning design to foster and support good practice and creativity. Educational Media International.

Cross, S., Conole, G., Clark, P., Brasher, A., & Weller, M.   . (2008). Mapping a landscape of Learning Design: Identifying key trends in current practice at the Open University. Paper presented at the LAMS Conference.

Nixon, S. (2007). LD project final report – final report of the LD VLE programme work. Milton Keynes: The Open University.

Okada, A., Buckingham Shum, S., & Sherborne, T. (2008). Knowledge Cartography: Software Tools and Mapping Techniques: Springer.

Wilson, P. (2007). Progress report on capturing eLearning case studies (Internal report). Milton Keynes: The Open University.

 

Might I ?

MIGHT 3

Register here

When

Wednesday, March 23, 2011 from 8:00 PM – 10:00 PM (GMT)

Where

Marwood Coffee Shop

52 Ship St

Brighton BN1 1AF

What is it?

MIGHT 3 is a collaborative workshop for ideas that have an ambition of achieving a turnover of £500k per annum or higher within three years of starting to trade.

Please register here today, as spaces are very limited.

It’s the third event in a series of three. But it’s fine to attend even if you didn’t get along to either of the previous two events.

Why?

Innovative things are sometimes too small to register on the radar for government, or funders, or the media. Sometimes so small that they are only a tiny, neglected idea in the back of someone’s head. But if you cluster together people with little innovative ideas, the clustering can help to magnify them.

MIGHT is an East Sussex and Brighton & Hove Innovation and Growth Team event programme organised by Wired Sussex.

Thankyou.

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