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The connectedness of ideas by learning online – towards a new theory of learning

From E-Learning V

Fig.1. This IMHO is what learning has become in the 21st century – and how it got there

There’s more going on here than you may realise!

From E-Learning V

Fig.2. Traditional top down learning

Two triangles, one above the other and linked with a down arrow suggests traditional top down learning … or simply knowledge transfer from someone who knows something to someone who does not.

From E-Learning V

Fig. 3 By someone’s side

Two triangles, one facing the other, may represent a shift towards collaborative or horizontal learning in a formal setting, though for me it represents the learning you do away from the institution – with friends, with family ‘on the same level’ as it were.

From E-Learning V

Fig. 4. Participatory and situated, networked learning on the periphery

From E-Learning V

Fig.5 The thinking starts with Vygotsky and his research into behaviorist learning

It then progressed to the study and analysis of learning in communities

From E-Learning V

Fig. 6. Activity Theory as conceived of and developed by Yrjo Engeström. 

From E-Learning V

Fig.7 The interplay between two entities or communities coming together to solve a problem and thus producing something unique to them both (object 3) – a fresh idea.

From E-Learning V

Fig.8. Activity Theory re-connected – breaking out

Though developed over some thirty years the structure of ‘Activity Theory’ as a model is breaking down because of the quality, speed and way in which we now connect overrides barriers and invades silos making communication more direct and immediate.

From E-Learning V

Fig. 9 Activity Theory in a connected world

Everyone and everything is just a click away.

From E-Learning V

Fig.10 Visualizing the maelström of original ideas generated by people sharing their thoughts and ideas as they form

The maelström of new ideas where people and groups collide and interact. Historically this had been in grounded ‘communities of practice’, whether a London coffee shop or the senior common room of a prestigious university, the lab, the studio, the rehearsal room … today some gatherings online are frequent, enabled by the Internet and no less vibrant as like-minds and joiners contribute to the generation of new ideas.

This, drawing on Engestrom via Vygotsky, might be a more academic expression of Open Learning. Here a host of systems, expressed in model form, interpose their drive to achieve certain objectives into the common whole. That mess in the middle is the creation of the collective powers and inputs of individuals, groups, departments or institutions. The Open bit are the connections between any node in one system, and any other node from any other one of the systems … which blows apart the actions within a single system, making them more open, though not random.

From E-Learning V

Fig. 11 It’s going on inside your head.

fMRI scans reveal the complex way in which ideas form and memories are recalled and mixed-up, challenged and re-imagined. We are our very own ‘community of practice’ of conflicting and shared viewpoints.

From E-Learning V

Fig.11. Perceiving brain activity as the interplay between distinct, interacting zones

From E-Learning V

Fig. 12 Ideas enter your system, your brain and are given a fresh spin

From E-Learning V

Fig.13 Ideas coalesce until you reach a point of understanding. The penny doesn’t so much as ‘drop’ as to form.

Where would we be without one of these. 98 billion neurons. A uniquely connected mass of opportunity and potential. This is where, of course, memories are formed and thoughts had. Increasingly we are able to share ideas and thoughts as we have them, typically through the tips of our fingers by sharing our thinking online, especially where it comes to the attention of like-minds, and troubled-minds – anyone in fact or strongly agrees or strongly disagrees enough to contribute by adding their thinking and revealing their presence.

Online vs. Face to face Learning

I’ll add notes here as the differences between the online and ‘traditional’ learning experience dawn on me as I do the two in parallel. Actually there’s a third comparison I can make – that of L&D which the other week included something neither of the above formats offer – ‘learning over a good lunch!’

Time Management

The ‘traditional’ seminar or lecture forces your hand somewhat – you have to be there. Many these days are recorded, though mine will not be. I’m inclined therefore to take either a digital or audio recorder along to record these things. I have, just a couple of times over three years, got behind with the online course as I kept putting it off.

Travel … and the associated cost

It’ll be around four hours door to door once a month. This means getting up at 4.30 am. Not of course something someone in full time tertiary education needs to do. Off peak, unless booked well in advance it’ll cost £74 return … £24 if I stick to exact trains. The last train home was heaving. I could and did ‘work’ the entire journey whereas home is a constant distraction.

Eating on campus

Lunch I may have to take with me as the campus only had premade Spar sandwiches at every outlet. A jacket potato or pasta would have been better.

Nodding off

After lunch I did something I last did in double Geography on a Friday afternoon. I sat at the back, cupped my hands over my eyes as if in deep thought … and fell asleep.

When to put in the hours

Something, however common to many people on any part-time distance learning course is ‘the early morning shift’ – putting in 90 minutes or so before breakfast.

Library Services

While this and other support services are offered to us on our VLE it was invaluable to to have a person run through it as a presentation in person. This kind of stuff should be given a linear expression … a mini-module for newcomers and as a refresher. All I’ve done, two years after the event, was a webinar.

Working with dreams : e-learning and the unconscious

Fig. 1. A mash-up in Picasa of a 3D laser generated image generated at the Design Museum during their ‘Digital Crystal’ exhibition.

The image exists and is transformed by the presence of the observer in front of a Kinex device making this a one-off and an expression or interpretation of that exact moment.

‘Working with dreams’ and ‘Keeping a dream journal’ are taught creative problem solving techniques at the Open University Business School. I did B822 ‘Creativity, Innovation and Change’ in 2012 (Henry et al 2010). I have the problem solving toolkit. I even got a hardback copy of VanGundy’s book on creative problem solving.

Using your unconscious isn’t difficult.

Just go to bed early with a ‘work’ related book and be prepared to write it down when you stir.

I woke soon after 4.00am. I’d nodded off between 9.30 and 11.30 so feel I’ve had my sleep.

Virtual bodies for first year medical students to work on, an automated mash-up of your ‘lifelog’ to stimulate new thinking and the traditional class, lecture and university as a hub for millions – for every student you have in a lecture hall you have 1000 online.

Making it happen is quite another matter. So I’m writing letters and with far greater consideration working on a topic or too for research.

“Nights through dreams tell the myths forgotten by the day.” C.G. Jung (Memories, Dreams, Reflections)

How to work with a dream or metaphorical image:

  • Entering the dream
  • Studying the dream
  • Becoming the images
  • Integrating the viewpoints
  • Reworking the dream

Appreciating, reflecting, looking forward and emerging

REFERENCE

Glouberman, D. (1989) Life Choices and Life Changes Through Imagework, London, Unwin, pp. 232-6

Henry, J., Mayle, D., Bell, R., Carlisle, Y. Managing Problems Creatively (3rd edn) 2010. The Open University.

Isaacson, W. (2011) Steve Jobs. Little Brown.

VanGundy, A.B. (1988) Techniques of structured problem solving (2nd edn), New York: Van Nostran Reinhold.

 

Unwell and Kindling

When your 14 year old daughter is in bed with flu, and running a temperature, you relent when she pops her head up from under the duvet and wants to use your laptop to watch a movie and get in touch with friends.

I think, because I use a keyboard extension that the chances that I will pick up her germs are reduced; I forget that we both use the same mouse. She blows her nose, uses the mouse, goes to sleep for three hours. I pick up the laptop, go online, do stuff like making a sandwich …

That’s four out of four now down with the bug, only the dog and the guinea-pigs seem fine (so far).

It doesn’t take long before I wind down

An odd sensation, like your battery has gone flat.

If only it were as simply as plugging yourself into the wall or changing a battery 🙁

I am just grisly and very tired

I had a flu jab in October so I should be avoiding the worst of it.

Sit back from this screen … you just can’t tell how infectious these things can be !

If it is one bonus it is the Kindle

It can be read in bed, your head on a pillow, operated with one finger, one thumb … and as my brain is mush I can make the text huge and read three words across like a TV autocue. When I fall asleep, so does it. When I wake up it is picks up where I left off. In fact, it will read the book to me … however, will it tell when I am asleep? That would be clever.

I’ve gone from one book to several

Between them Amazon and Kindle have their fingers in my wallet.

I’m 46% the way through the Rhona Sharpe book. Here’s a new concept … no pages.

In addition I have samples of six other books, two blogs and a magazine on a 14 day free trial (I will cancel these 7 days in or earlier to be sure I don’t continue with anything I don’t want)

And new books, and old books.

In the 1990s I bought CDs to get back or replace LPs of my youth. Over the last five years I’ve got rid of most of these and run with iTunes.

Books, due to lack of storage space, are in really useful Really Useful boxes in a lock up garage we rented to help with a house move … three years ago. Is there any point of a book in a box? I have over the decades taken a car load of books Haye on Wye and sold them in bulk. A shame. I miss my collection of Anais Nin and Henry Miller; I miss also my collection on movie directors and screenwriters. Was I saying that this part of my life had ended? Or I needed the space (or money). I fear, courtesy of my Kindle and lists of books I have made since I was 13 that I could easily repopulate my mind with the content of these books. Indeed there is no better place to have them, at my finger tips on a device a tasty as a piece of hot toast covered in butter and blueberry jam.

Page Views

I do nothing and the page views I receive doubles to 500. What does this mean? I am saying too much? That the optimum blog is one per day? Or have folks found they can drill through here for H807 and H808? Who knows, I don’t the stats provided by the OU are somewhat limited. I’d like the works. Which pages do people enter on, which are most viewed, where do they exit, what’s the average pages viewed by an individual and so on. In my experience 500 page views means three people reading 100/150 each with a few others dipping in and out.

How Kindle has changed me in 24 hours

My bedtime reading for anyone following this is ‘The Isles’ Norman Davies.

I read this in the 1990s when it came out. I felt it deserved a second reading. It is heavier then the Yellow Pages and almost as big. Because of its bulk I may have it open on a pillow as I read; no wonder I fall asleep. (Works for me). Having downloaded it to the Kindle last night in 60 seconds and for less than £9 I may now read more than a couple of pages at a time. I can also annotate and highlight the Kindle version. I have an aversion to doing this to the physical thing … I am used to selling on my old books. Not something I can do with a Kindle version. Which makes me think, should these digital versions not be far, far, far cheaper? Take ‘The Isles.’ The dust cover is in perfect nick, I took it off and boxed it rather than get it torn. The damp in the lock-up garage hasn’t caused too much harm. I could get £8 for it, maybe £5.

What else?

More on E-learning:

  • Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age. (Rhona Sharpe)
  • Creating with WordPress (blog)
  • Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. (2010) Will Richardson
  • E-Learning by Design (William Horton)
  • How to change the world (blog)
  • SEO Book (Blog)
  • Digitial Strategies for Powerful Corporate Communications (2009) Paul Argenti and Courtney Barnes
  • The Online Learning Idea Book (Patti Shank)
  • Using Moodle (Jason Cole and Helen Foster)

Some bought, some simply samples. The blogs on a 14-day free trial. Neither worth £0.99 a month.

Best on Kindle

The big surprise, the book that is so beautifully transmogrified by Kindle, lifted by it, is ‘The Swimming Drills Book’ (2006) Ruben Guzman.

No! This isn’t what happens if your swimmer gets it wrong. This is a drill called ‘dead swimmer’ in which they float head down, then slowly extended into a streamlined position, kick away and then swim full stroke.

‘The Swim Drill Book’ is a mixture of text, almost in bullet point form, and line drawings of swimmers in various stages of effort to perform a stroke or drill or exercise.

If an author needs advice on how to write for a Kindle, or for a tablet, I’d point them at this book. This is NOT how it was conceived, but it is how it works on this alternative platform.

You can try it for free

Download Kindle for PC or Kindle for Mac then find ‘The Swimming Drills Book.’ You can then view a sample which takes you beyond the acknowledgements, contents and introduction into the first chapter.

A thing of beauty

By tweaking the layout, text size and orientation, you can place the diagram/drawing full screen. It simply works, just as the stunning black and white engravings and photographs that your Kindle will feature (at random) when ‘sleeping.’

Here’s an thought: if you’re not reading a book it is gathering dust, a dead thing, whereas with a Kindle your books are simply asleep.

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