Home » Posts tagged 'creativity'

Tag Archives: creativity

Advertisements

The Learning Technologist Imagined

 

1 Jilly Salmon

Fig.1. Prof. Jilly Salmon author of ‘E-Tivities’

Inspired by a couple of talks given by Prof. Gilly Salmon at the 5th Coursera Partners’ Conference in The Hague in March 2016 I have been working on a way to take her ‘Five Phases’ of online course design and turn it into a ‘workshop’ model that could be used to help design courses, and to compare courses, their affordances and learning outcomes.
1 Learning Technologist

Fig. 2 A set of coloured blocks I use to think through, or to analyse, the phases of an online course

Her idea was to give educators a simple, approachable way to think through the design of a ‘Technology Enhanced’ course.

2 Learning TechnologistFig.3 My interpretation of how Gilly Salmon uses coloured blocks to visualise the ‘ideal’ or ‘typical’ components of an online or ‘technology enhanced’ course in tertiary education.

This is one the many approaches that I am familiar with and in some instances have used to design a course, from packs of loose, printable cards developed by JISC that were used in a OLDS MOOC I completed, or flowcharts called ‘Swimming Lanes’ used an online App through the Open University, during one module of the Open University’s ‘Master of Arts: Open and Distance Education’ (MA ODE) or on a white board in an ‘industry’ in e-Learning Network (ELN) workshop I attended in London for corporate online training.

3 Learning TechnologistFig.4  A pack of cards developed by JISC to assist with course design.

The goal is always the same: to have a blueprint that can be shared with colleagues and a team that will build the platform before ‘populating’ it with content (and knowing what kind of content this will be: text, rich media, game/activity, assessment etc). This is something I am familiar with as a producer working in corporate training, video and interactive production. I moved from linear treatments and scripts and to packs of storyboard ‘blueprints’ that would show, what Gilly Salmon would later call ‘e-tivities’. These storyboards would also show the buttons and links that would appear on the DVD or computer-based training we produced.

4 Learning Technologist

Fig.5. The Creative Workshop that I ran at the Open University Business School to resolve problems with running multiple LinkedIn Groups for current students, alumni and prospective students.

While at the Open University Business School (OUBS), I completed their MBA module ‘Creativity, Innovation and Change’ and was introduced to dozens of techniques for helping people unravel a problem or come up with a creative way of doing things. It has been exciting to apply this in small groups, running workshops to solve problems collectively and to come up with often surprising, actionable results – that everyone felt they had contributed to. I have shared the techniques, including the ‘Bible’ of creative workshop techniques with the founder of The School for Leaders to use in their summer schools.

5 Learning Technologist

Fig. 6. A set of the current tabs on the Western Front Association website. As the digital editor I upload all items, sometimes as many as a 30 a week.

More recently, my part-time role as the Digital Editor for The Western Front Association (The WFA) I have written and assembled, added modified images, links and video to a MailChimp newsletter that then went out to our 6,500+ subscribers while posting some 15 articles and events to the website and feeding some of these to The WFA Facebook Page. Meanwhile, 18 months into this role, I am working with the Executive Committee of The WFA to replace the current website. Until now I have been working with a web agency in Dundee working largely online and through a ‘ticketing system’ for tasks to be undertaken. The brief, that I wrote, is for far  greater focus on The WFA remit of: ‘studying, learning and research’. To this end, alongside completing, part-time, an MA in the history of 1914-1918, I am in continual contact with academics and their support teams in the UK and abroad endeavouring to represent their work, by sharing and publishing events and papers. During the week I will correspond via 60+ emails and one Skype call. Every couple of months we meet face to face in offices in London.

This kind of team working, as a producer in TV and video production and creating websites, has been matched by some volunteers roles, for example, as the Chairman of ‘Wave Leisure’ the group that took over leisure facilities from Lewes Town Council, by multiple roles in a 1,000 member swimming club working with colleagues, parents and swimmers (children through to Masters), while currently, by way of example, I am working with a group in Lewes to research, write, then present in talks and through displays in shop windows the history of Lewes during the First World War. Another, disparate involvement in ‘academia’ has been my working on a three day conference on the political philosopher Plamenatz, using a handful of names and authors to build a database and get in touch via social media with potential speakers and event attendees for the University of Oxford.

6 Learning Technologist

Fig 7. The OU interactive online tutor platform

Meanwhile, over the last week, inevitably, with my interest in online education, I hold an MA in Open and Distance Education from the Open University (2013), I am taking more than a close look at the approach taken to blended learning at the University of Wolverhampton where I am a part-time student. The OU had its own e-portfolio ‘MyStuff’ that I personally used religiously only to have it deleted and replaced with a generic platform – an early version of Mahara. Wolverhampton use PebblePad. I use all the different platforms, as a learning exercise and to mentally acknowledge their presence should I need them later. My experience and preference is to use a student Blog platform that provides the simple three options of publishing 1) privately 2) to my faculty/student group only or 3) to the world. You have the benefit of putting all your study ‘stuff’ in one place, then to share with the faculty if you are working on a collaborative task and also to share, more expansively thoughts and ideas about the life, the university and everything. My interest in online learning has seen me invited by the University of Wolverhamtpon to take part in reviewing of the School of Arts’ ‘Offer’ and the university’s adoption of a new platfrom, Canvas, later this year.

7 Learning Technologist

Fig. 8. The current OU Student platform: simple and clear. My OU Blog usage.

My OU Student blog, which I used extensively, over three years has several thousand followers and has been viewed 1.7 million times. I still write in it to keep up with former students and tutors. I also rely on it to find tagged papers, infographics, and notes on every subject covered by The OU MAODE. Other ‘databases’ I use include Picasa (now Google Pics) where I have many thousand screen grabs related to all manner of subjects, not least seven distinct ‘albums’ related to ‘E-Learning’. Finding visual references or ‘aides memoire’ invaluable I have in the past used FlickR not only to save photographs online, but to share them and gather information and contacts around them.

I still used Pinterest extensively, gratuitously grabbing and assembling images as I read and explore, while in the past, I have also made extensive use of Stumbleupon. Short of ‘lifelogging’, that I have tried, studied and discounted, I find that with devices, apps and platforms one can recreated a fraction of the contents of one’s brain online: in scale though, it is, for the moment, only an ‘aide memoire’. I wonder if in time, ‘A.I’ could make this smart? I hanker after an Alexa like presence that knows me better than I do, a ‘personal assistant’ for the 21st century.

My history with Pinterest has been as an ‘aide memoire’ and collection of curiosities. Galleries of images on a theme, held and built upon in one place are a quick-fire ‘concept board’ for the inventive mind, but also of practical use where an image is required to support a particular article. Recently looking at this I wish, having pinned one, I’d gone back and worked with dendrograms: I an see their value for clustering, and therefore making sense of ideas; perhaps for writing something like this, but certainly for a formal, academic essay. I click on the image of the dendrogram I had saved and in an instant I am reading an article on ‘How we designed FutureLearn’s new course categories’ on the FutureLearn website of how they created categories for their website. In turn this shows me what I do and do not understand about dendrograms amd their creation: I am familiar with ‘card sorting’ and ‘closed card sorting’. Now I could plan one to be created online using ‘Optimal Workshop’, which includes tools such as ‘Tree Testing’, ‘Card Sorting’, ‘First-click Testing’ and ‘Qualitative Research’.

Five modules were required to gain the MA ODE. There are six modules. I have completed all of them and am also thinking about joining a ‘new presentation’. As a student, and while working at The OU, I saw the OU platform develop and took part in its ‘re-invention’ not only attending internal research sessions, but also attending the ‘Usability Testing Lab’ to be taken through screening of versions of key pages. It struck me that repeatedly the desire was to enhance usability, which saw the key pages repeatedly simplified. Presented with a screen, with a facilitator at my side, and others behind a two-way mirror, my actions, feelings, and eye-movements are followed, while my comments and thoughts when prompted by the researcher are noted down

The Open University Business School web pages were put through this process. A number of people, fitting the ‘persona’ profiles of an OUBS student were paid a fee to take part. The ‘Human Computer Research Labs’ can be booked following these guidelines.

9 Learning TechnologistFig. 9. The University of Wolverhampton’s Learning Platform

I use and am familiar with the affordances of their learning platform ‘WOLF’ and have identified strengths, weaknesses and opportunities which I am sharing both with the chair of the MA program and with university learning support team.  The problem with its use for the course I am taking isn’t technical, but human: tutors, students and others need to respond to comments; best practice will be picked up through use, but for now some tips are needed: dont give the title of your comment as the date of the Saturday Course – everyone does this and as a list it looks meaningless; starting a discussion is one thing, responding in a thoughtful and constructive way to others matters more. ‘Listen’ to what a person has written, and respond to all of it.  Keep of your agenda, be considerate and respectful of theirs – you’ll have your chance. Treat it as a reciprocal experience. Treat it like having all you coffee room discussions recorded and typed up. It should be friendly, even rambling, open, constructive and engaging. You cannot bore people into taking part.

9 Learning Technologist

Fig. 10 The Open University MA ODE module ‘conference’ or ‘student forum’ activity between ‘Tutor Marked Assignments’ (TMAs)

Not one student posting to the discussion since October 2016 has had a response, neither from tutors, nor from fellow students. I can try to act as a catalyst to invigorate this, however, if my lone voice then appears and responds with comments to 90% of the threads another problem is created.

10 Learning Technologist

Fig. 11 A variety of ‘Posters’ representing papers produced by Coursera Partners. Coursera Partners’ Conference 3016

Most of this knowledge I have gained through experience over many years, starting in 2000/2001 with ‘Friends Circles’ on the Diaryland Platform, then ListServ with The OU in 2001, but in particular through the many modules of the MA ODE. I can now look at papers on ‘student engagement’ or call up a ‘Poster’ and talk I had with an academic at the 5th Coursera Partners’ Conference in 2016.

A significant failing of the Wolverhampton MA course, which says it uses ‘blended learning’ had been to have a proper, hands on induction, face to face as well as online (it is ostensibly a residential, lecture-driven course). As I write this, the course chair and I on the MA course at Wolverhampton are exchanging thoughts on the discussion forum. I believe I have credibility because I know the subject and so can contribute at that level, but also, because I am so familiar with this kind of setup and know what makes them work: keeping the questions open, reading and responding directly to what others have said (as you ought to do if they were talking to you face to face), and keeping the tone open, supportive, professional and on brief – unless you create informal ‘break-out’ spaces. I also know that having posted a few replies, however great the temptation, I need to stand back for a couple of days to give others a chance to come in, and then when I do return to respond to one or two, but not all of them: to let some of the discussions purposively be picked up and carried by others.

11 Learning TechnologistFig. 12 Studying 3D production and design post-graduate students had to grade each other in terms of ‘collaboration’ and ‘team working’ those receiving the lowest scores given especial attention to bring them ‘on board’.

There are universities that successfully have MA students contributing to undergraduate discussions, and doctoral research students contributing to MA discussion groups. All would benefit from a workshop on the dynamic of these and the psychological impact on student behaviours if you are too dominant, or flippant, or dismissive. The typed word has multiple tones because the reader invents it.

As a student I have now been in thirty or more of these, online learning groups, all the way through the OU MAODE, but also in MOOCs, particularly from FutureLearn, but also from several and different Higher Education and Commercial MOOCs I have taken since: Oxford Brookes, Coursera for example.

There is a pattern of use, or no use at all. Where a group of students regularly ‘hang out’ the exchange can be extraordinary: constructing meaning, building confidence, acquiring knowledge and having a laugh.  I am currently an online mentor with the Open University, and also a mentor (on campus) at the School of Communication Arts (since 2011), though by far my busiest, most fulfilling and insightful experience (daily if I wish it to be) is as an online mentor with Coursera. I recently shared issues with engagement in a Coursera ‘Hang Out’ and found myself recalling some of the greatest successes at The OU: a tutor who posted a different picture of a ‘Water Cooler’ each week and used this for students to have a ‘free for all chat’, which gave them confidence with the platform before going back to the academic threads; and a student in my tutor group, soon after they had been launched, getting us all to join a ‘Google Hang Out’ for a pajama party – not as salacious as it sounds with students in many different time zones (and cultures). Coursera are doing this too: a recent ‘off campus’ hang out having us bring our favourite ‘food’ to the hangout to discuss: interestingly with Coursera Mentors from Egypt, California, Chile, Germany, the Netherlands, Argentina, Canada … England and Wales.

At Wolverhampton I have also put myself forward to support the creation of online materials for this and other courses. I have done this before, asked by Creative Skill Set to join a panel advising them on the creation of a number of MOOCs they were part financing via a number of UK universities, and also advising Design & Art Direction (D&AD) after they had received a management consultancy report advising them to move some of their workshops and distance learning ‘products’ online.

12 Learning TechnologistFig. 13 Daphne Koller presenting at the 5th Coursera Partners’ Conference, March 2016

I was introduced to the work of Daphne Koller and Coursera as an MA ODE graduate student in 2010/2011. The results from their earliest courses have shaped their thinking since: close analysis of how thousands of students struggle pinppoints where the educators need to improve how they present and explain a thing (which benefits students on campus too) while experiments with peer reviewed and tutor graded assessments were telling: far from ‘cheating the sytem’ or just getting it wrong, students tended to mark more harshly than the tutor. Peer review works at another level too: by assessing the work of others your own knowledge deepens. They do say that the best way to learn a subject is to teach it, after all.

I have since completed several Coursera MOOCs on ‘Learning How to Learn’, ‘Photography’,  Search Engine Optimisation’ and ‘Creative writing’. It has been a fascinating and rewarding journey to use the platforms, experience how it works, to see how Coursera are constantly improving and adapting (and contributing to this) and to have become (after training) a Coursera Mentor (since August 2016).  The mentor is support, a moderator, and a technical and subject guide. The support we get includes regular emails and newsletters, as well as weekly ‘Hangouts’.

A bit like a ‘mentor’ but  with more ‘powers’, I am a moderator on various groups on LinkedIn, a moderator in the eLearning Global Network (34 k+ members) but also the moderator and founder of ‘Swim Club Teachers & Coaches’ group (1.4k members). In these groups, and initially learning from Thomas Garrod in the eLearning Global Network, I came to develop ‘best practice’ when seeding and responding to discussions. This is something I took to The Open University Business School (OUBS) where I took over, developed and started four LinkedIn Groups in turn for alumni, present students, prospective students and the newly formed ‘Business Breakfast Network’. (Memberships ranging from several thousand to zero when I set up the ‘Business Breakfast Network’). These groups were used for multiple reasons: maintaining interest in The Business School, supporting learners and acting as a hub and a learning/sharing platform, directing prospective students to a series of webinars I set up and beginning a corporate, business network. In each case I developed and grew group numbers and participation. In all these instances, including the lead on a programme of webinars aimed at prospective students, I worked with senior and junior academics from OUBS, and with administrative staff.
13 Learning TechnologistFig. 14 A video producer (writer/director). Interviews, conferences, lectures and bespoke training.

Over the last week, I have responded to five Coursera students on MOOCs, and taken part in two Coursera Hang-outs. Often my input is to nudge the student along, even, simply to indicate that there is someone listening. Issues with assessments are not unusual: people get miffed if they don’t pass the formal, graded assessment at the end of the week first time and can blame the system if they don’t get the grade a second time either. I am loath to point out that I rarely got through one of these multiple-choice quizzes first time, the questions shuffle each time you take the ‘test’, you are also directly, a little clumsily I would say, directed to the part of the course that might help you get the answer correct. In one instant it took me 7 attempts, another 11 and time out to go back over two weeks of learning material, and by then, the option to ‘reset’ the course by two weeks or try and catch up. Most Coursera courses now start on a rolling basis every two weeks and as a student you can, if you get stuck or delayed, reset to an earlier ‘presentation’. This sadly does impact on the task of creating any student bonding in a ‘cohort’ and so reaping the benefits of camaraderie, collective effort and collaborate, constructed learning.  

One of the hangouts is with the Coursera technical and support team based in Mountain View, CA and a ‘Chill out’ of a tiny fraction of the 1,900 Mentors worldwide. It is fascinating to learn that the University of Michigan is aiming to have 200 of its courses online by the end of 2017, with 83 already online. (I mentor one of their MOOCs). They are splitting content between Coursera and EdX. This is seen as a valuable way forward for educators for students on campus, and to build and support students ‘at a distance’.

14 Learning TechnologistFig.15 A break-away session on how to create, manage and moderate an online forum used by students from across the world. Coursera Conference 2016.

Attending the 5th Coursera Partners’ Conference in March 2016 I was able to hear academics speak, network with them, and in several instances take part in early-morning ‘creative workshops’ with them, in two cases initiating the topic we explored, namely ‘Resistance of universities to online learning’, and ‘Use of video in online education’. I could also build on my knowledge of how Coursera uses student data to improve courses by identifying sticking points; analsysis and change are part of their culture, part of what they see as a ‘movement’ to bring education to the world.

15 Learning Technologist

Fig.16  Annotated Post It notes used during a Coursera workshop which led to my own conception of how ‘Massive Demand’ feed into course programmes ‘on the ground’.

It was fascinating to learn how much corporate ‘partnership’ is occurring with academics, particularly in business schools, and how academics are adapting to the ‘flipped classroom’. Ten months later I am still reflecting on the 30 or so ‘Posters’ presented by a myriad of academics at Coursera who have been testing ‘technology enhanced learning’ in institutions around the world. Even something as subtle as where to place text, whether subtitles or annotations, on video were fascinating.

16 LTFig. 17. Barb Oakley presenting ‘Learning How to Learn’ – the biggest MOOC to date with over 16 million participants.

I came to be at the Coursera Partners Conference, my delegate’s fees reimbursed, as I was, and still am, a fan of ‘Learning How to Learn’ and its author and presenter Barb Oakley. Personally, I think her delivery is a model for any lecturer wishing to create a ‘flipped classroom’. She shot all the video herself in her basement with a green screen on a budget of $5,000. As The OU TEL academic Martin Weller would argue, it was ‘good enough’ – the kind of video shoots I was responsible for in my former career are not necessary. A lecturer to camera does not have to be a multi-camera TED lecture event, or a BBC documentary. They simply need to be prepared, savvy, knowledgeable, open to constructive criticism and enthusiastic: and in due course, be prepared to replace bits as a better way to explain or show something is thought of.

The Coursera  platform is extraordinarily smart and always adapting and improving: as a mentor I complete a weekly short survey and a monthly in-depth survey, let alone feedback issues with the student experience at every step of the way. Recommendations from mentors, I have found, are swiftly fed to the ‘Tech Team’ and adopted. This is a four part course that I completed with a score of over 80%: I am familiar with the modules, and can at any time go in and follow it as a student should I need a refresh. A basic component of the Coursera experience is for a short video of ‘knowledge acquisition’ followed by short formative multiple-choice quiz, which you have to repeat and pass to 80% before you can progress. Some students baulk at not getting it all right first time; so long as there is nothing wrong with the questions and content I persuade students that the effort required to get the answer right is very much part of the deeper learning experience. I was following the weekly Friday Coursera ‘Mentor Hang Out’ just before I came to write this. They have been holding these twice a week for some months. Beyond the blog and hoping that people will read and comment, and beyond the tutor supported forum where you hope they and fellow students comment, the beauty of a ‘hangout’ is that it gets people together in real time in a dynamic that is quite different from from a face to face seminar. As an alumni of ‘Learning How to Learn’ I receive, follow up on and respond to the weekly newsletter on dates, books, developments and insights.

17 Learning Technologist

Fig. 18 Mash-up promoting ways to put the ‘Oxbridge Tutorial’ experience online.

I am a little more than a passive alumnus of the Oxford School of Geography, attending lectures from time to time and in touch with the faculty about e-learning. I also take advantage of attending my former college and wider university events, including attending open lectures at the Oxford Institute of the Internet (OII) and Said Business School if it feeds my knowledge. Oxford is moving towards creating MOOCs on EdX after years of consideration, committee meetings and procrastination. In March I have a chance to hear more about this from the University’s Vice-Chancellor at a college conference. My fascination has always been on how to recreate the ‘Oxbridge Tutorial’ online; with small group hang-outs this has become possible, so long as they are made an obligatory part of a course and a carefully managed.

18 Learning TechnologistFig. 19 Part of a corporate presentation attended on the functionality of Moodle.

My interest in corporate training a member of the Learning Skills Group (LSG), going to their annual conference ‘Learning Technologies’ (in Olympia, London), taking part in regular webinars since 2010. Introduced by a fellow student on the MA ODE I have also been dropping into an Australian ‘hang out’ for teachers in Higher Education since 2014 while the skills and experience I gained using LinkedIn groups I gained from eLearning Global Network and their monthly hangouts (I became a group moderating four years ago so can delete, move and edit posts from others too). You learn how the dynamics of an online group works, something I had become familiar with though such groups and the different platforms they use at The OU.

My interest in FutureLearn has been no less great that my interest in Coursera : I took their first FutureLearn MOOC on Web Science (and consequently applied to Southampton to undertake doctoral research, title ‘Can an email-prompted web-based e-learning platform aimed at undergraduates in the UK with moderate to persistent asthma improve compliance to their prescribed preventer drugs to 80%?’.

I went on to complete 11 FutureLearn courses and when Creative SkillSet decided to create MOOCs I was recommended by the Dean of the School of Communication Arts and joined the panel of advisors helping to fashion MOOC proposals from the likes of Goldsmith College  and the National Film and Television School.

My interest in ‘Technology Enhanced Learning’ began when I was working as a producer for UK corporate producer TVL who were beginning to migrate linear-based video training to interactive formats. This saw me working with ‘educators’ in industries as diverse as Nuclear Fuels (Sellafield), Banking (Standard Life and NatWest), Law (The Crown Prosecution Service and legal publisher Legalease) and many others. A team, that I lead as the producer, included an instructional designer, writer (I often wrote the scripts) and in-house team of editors, graphic designer and ‘outside broadcast’ video teams. Working closely with the client my role was to help shape a vision for the work, then lead and represent the scripting and storyboards for what were in effect at first the means to replicate lectures, workshops and ‘on the job’ and ‘just in time’ training. For example vignettes of video were shown then questions asked and knowledge tested. As levels of sophistication and budgets increased 3D graphics and animations were used to help explain a process, machine action or flow of information. Feedback forms, then behaviour using computer-based learning at the desk then modeled how changes would be made. Thus I have found myself working at the THORP nuclear reprocessing plant on safety training, developing an interactive DVD on banking for Standard Life, creating training for NatWest on how to handle a bank robbery and bank manager kidnap while producing  a course on ‘The Art of Legal Negotiation’ for lawyers.

19 Learning Technologist

Fig. 20. Experience using Cloudworks and receiving ‘badges’ as an incentive

I have at times worked in broadcast TV, as an assistant producer, even sound engineer, offline editor and vision mixer. Then, as now, I have no fear of learning new skills whether putting images through Adobe Lightroom, cutting audio with images in Camtasia, learning a new web platform, such as WordPress and Joomla, shooting and cutting video and loading this to YouTube and embedding it onto websites or into a newsletter using MailChimp, or using a collaborative learning and sharing platform such as Cloudworks.

With the move to a web agency in Brighton it was clear at the time that the ‘rich’ media of 3d computer graphics and drama-reconstructions could not be recreated online. In the first ‘educational’ platform I worked on (as its Producer) I worked directly with the client FT Knowledge and our creative team to create modules for an MBA programme which used animations, text, audio and multiple-choice questions as part of each module. Recognising the need to improve my knowledge I joined what was then the Open University’s MA in Open and Distance Learning – all learning ‘at a distance’ with a crude ListServ forum and physical books.

20 Learning TechnologistFig. 21  Taking part in an OU wide research project with academics and other staff to identify key OU ‘Personas’.

While taking the renamed Masters Degree in Open and Distance Education’ I successfully applied to work at The OU and was based in Milton Keynes. Here I was surprised, though delighted to become quickly involved in an expanded role that had me sharing the ‘OU Student experience’ in meetings and workshops to heads of faculty, assistant lecturers and individual academics. Essentially, I was taking them through the affordances of platforms and tools that they had been wary of using. Meanwhile, I picked up two groups on LinkedIn for the Business School and began two more: one for prospective students and a fourth for the launch of the Business Breakfast Briefings. Familiar with LinkedIn I ran, supervised, moderated and seeded discussions and help build one closed and one open group into the 1,000s.

21 Learning Technologist

Fig. 22 I have studied and followed SpacedEd (now Qstream) since 2010. I have twice interviewed its founder/creator Dr Price Kerfoot and based my PhD doctoral thesis on using the SpacedEd platform to test compliance training with asthmatics.  

Completing the MA ODE, I elected to complete two further modules in preparation for applying to undertake doctoral research. During my studies I had become fascinated by what was then a new platform developed at Harvard Medical School by Dr Price Kerfoot called ‘SpacedEd’ which used the simple mechanism of very carefully scripted multiple-choice questions sent to a mobile device. My research proposal was to use SpacedEd to educate people with mild chronic asthma to improve compliance to their drugs and to measure learning effectiveness by an improvement in lung function. I firmly believe that there are many situations, and subjects, where knowledge has to be acquired particularly with first year students before it can be applied which would suit learners at all levels.

22 LT

Fig. 23 CloudWorks used as part of an online collaborative exercise with The Open University

Creativity and innovation can put  you out on a limb. I am a compulsive ‘early adopter’ who wants to see, use, judge, and experiment with every new app, platform or tool. I therefore have Alexa from Amazon and am confident though currently underwhelmed: she doesn’t take dictation or speak French. Historically I was early to blog in 1999, coding my own pages until I joined the platform Diaryland, and then quick to try each platform as it emerged from LiveJournal through to WordPress (on which I have several blogs.

Only this November I loaded diary App to my iPad ‘My Wonderful Days’ to support my desire to keep a daily journal or diary again: I never miss a day, and use it, to keep some kind of track on what I read, see and experience every day. There is huge cumulative worth to this: I find I forget just how many books I have read, for example, even where I have made notes so these too will go into a blog and tagged. I have studied and review people and tools for ‘life logging’ and feel confident that they can be dismissed as giving little support to the learning experience: the student needs to be making choices to ‘grab’ or store information. The benefits of ‘lifelogging’ are for those with dementia or Parkinson’s Disease to help bolster weakening short-term memory. Otherwise, the healthy brain is designed to ‘forget’ and we should be allowed to – students encouraged to find ways to repeat, review and re-use thoughts and knowledge they need to store in their long term memory.

23 Learning TechnologistFig. 24  Rosetta Language Learning

I am quick to try new apps and platforms, whether Prezzi or QR codes, ListServ or Google Hangouts, ePortfolios and multiple-choice assessments, (SpacedEd, now QStream). I rave about the language learning platform Rosetta Stone having greatly improved my grammar, vocabulary and especially my pronunciation with it. I recently signed up to Yousician to try and get my guitar playing skills a bit better than bad. A couple of the stalwarts of my working day are Simple Minds (for mind mands) and Studio (for annotation images and charts). I also have used a variety of idea/storytelling supporting tools such as PowerStructure and Final Draft (though ostensibly these are for writing novels or screenplays).

Creativity regarding online learning means many things: simplest of all it is pragmatic problem solving, dawning upon experience and a willingness of different minds to look at new ways of doing things; creativity also standards and quality controls, a platform or app like a chair can be both functional and beautiful, it is shocking how many times a platform or app can be neither thing: it looks terrible and doesn’t worse, or even if it works it looks terrible and leaves users lost or demoralised: ease and joy of use is crucial, as well as relevance and something being embedded in the learning experience as a compulsory component : make a thing optional and most students opt not to use it.

24 Learning Technologist

Fig. 25  OUBS: Recording lectures and seminars (including Cherie Booth’s inaugural lecture, marketing planning foe web development and organising webinars.

At the Open University Business School, as with the Western Front Association currently, I respond to and support a myriad of people helping them to make the best use of the platforms we have available for them. There is often a need to persuade, to present, and the assist and nurture where people are hoping to, or are expected to use a piece of technology themselves.  

25 Learning Technologist

Fig. 26.  Drawing on the research and writings of many specialists, past and present.

Not a teacher, though I have taught in primary and secondary education, and in higher education given talks and run workshops. With my children now in or starting university I cannot help but pick their brains about the learning experience. My son is using FlickR to build a portfolio of work, while both my son and daughter are disappointed by the percentage of students who don’t do any work.  Not a teacher, though I have been a professional swimming teacher and coach since 2005 and as I gained professional qualifications and learnt through traditional methods : workbooks and seminars, I regularly advised the Amateur Swimming Association on e-learning, preparing proposals and scamps on best use of video. Not a teacher, though I took a six week course with Oxford Brookes on teaching in higher education (and gained a distinction – and 10 credits). Not a teacher, though I took an OLDS MOOC and ended up working collaboratively with educators from the university of Lincoln to devise a MOOC on video for educators. Not a teacher, though I devised a use of QR codes in teaching the First World War. Not a teacher, though I devised a research thesis based on studying a cohort of undergraduates. Not a teacher, though having completed the MA ODE and further MA ODE OU modules I have repeatedly studied and consider how a wide array of tools and platforms could or do support educators. Not a teacher, though taking a close interest in the work of Kineo I gained an insider’s perspective of how learning platforms were developed for ‘City & Guilds’ worldwide.

Though not a teacher, I see myself as an ‘educator’ and facilitator, an informed, personable enthusiast, always ready to push my own studies further, including to doctoral research.

Whilst endeavouring to keep my skills and interests up to date, I also have a career of relevant and valuable core skills from preparing a creative brief and chairing workshops, to presenting and championing an idea, to supporting one to one or presenting at a conference, to producing video and interactive projects, even operating video cameras, editing and posting content online. I believe I would make a credible, valuable member of the Technology Enhanced Learning team at the University of Sussex.

 

Advertisements

Dreaming of performing – what a performance

I call this blog ‘Mind Bursts’ for a reason.

A decade ago, curating thoughts and ideas and putting them online to share and simply to store it struck me that I was simply assembling things that had ‘gone ping’ in my brain. There are few greater such moments that a vivid dream … however vacuous, passing and potentially ephemeral they may be.

After many years of getting nowhere, in my late twenties, at a guess, perhaps early thirties, I go to three auditions and am quickly offered three parts: a musica, a play and a film: all require singing, each is a ‘breakthrough’ role and in the case of the film, as the female director who ‘discovered me’ tells me ‘is worth £35,000’ for the first weekend alone. This person offers the suggestion that I get an agent and manager, especially when I let slip that I have a major theatre piece to consider too. It is the producers of this piece who ‘take me in hand’ running me around in a frenetic whirl of introductions before making it to a read through. It is here that a crack begins to appear, not least I haven’t resolved that fact that I can only do one of these productions, but everyone at the read through smokes and for health reasons, whoever well managed my asthma, I don’t want to say. I try to talk this through with the director thinking that maybe we’d take the read through outside, or people would not smoke, but instead she offers me the remains of her joint – which at first I refuse. I then take it, pleasing her, and becoming relaxed, light headed and more accepting of the circumstances. I wake as a form of running away, as I know the only solution is to leave. I wake and leave the dream world knowing that wanting it all I will get none of it.

It is years since I cared to work with a dream, but they are a ‘mind burst’ of the purest form given that they are the creation of the subconscious. I have a way to work these through as a dream never means what it appears to be. They rarely even have narrative form, but are an expression of immediate feelings, sensations, experiences and thoughts. I want to be after watching two contrasting films of ‘Great Expectations’ – the moody, memorable black and white version of David Lean and the moodless, forgettable, muddy, messy and forgettable recent version by Mike Newell: wrong cast, wrong settings, wrong approach, wrong music, lack of tone, pace or mood. Dreadful script, clumsy acting, misdirected in the purest sense of the word. Had that anything to do with my dreamworld?

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

1: Who are you in the dream?

Still me. Though single. ‘Unsettled in London’ – so in a job, but not following my heart. At a guess 28 … and between relationships or floating away from yet another failing one.

2: Who are you with in the dream?

Alone, but quickly befriended, or adopted by each director in turn for the productions I’ve auditioned for: a musical, a film and a play. I think. Or two films and a musical? Does it matter! All my age, a male director, then two female.

3: What details stand out?

Being in a theatre in the morning when there are no members of the public about: the wonder of that and being behind the scenes and stepping away from the throng of a busy city street.

4: What do you feel about these details?

Nostalgia for involvement in theatre performing in my late teens and early twenties.

5: What are the various actions in the dream?

Attending auditions, or even turning up to hear the result of an audition and in each case, most unexpectedly, being the perfect person for the role. All things being equal it appeared to be my singing voice that the wanted – that clinched it.

6: How are you acting and behaving in this dream?

Bemused, enthralled and caught up in each director’s enthusiasm for their production.

7: What relation does this dream have to your personality?

Hankering after performance. A love for ‘doing’ theatre and play acting, rather than the watching of it. i.e. behind the scenes, in dressing rooms, going through read throughs and rehearsals, the other worldliness of it … the thrill and relief of being able to ‘join’ this merry throng of creators. The joy of being part of a big team under professional direction.

8: What does the dream want from you?

To deliver.

9: What are the various feelings in this dream?

Thrilled. But knowing, if the answer isn’t obvious, that I will have to let two people down. I want to go with the film. Each director is likeable. I know none of them. I prefer the film director. Like a young Virginia Makenner. Very practical, persuasive and supportive. She is the only one who suggests and wants me to get an agent or manager involved to bother with my life so I can concentrate on the part. I ask, as if I can’t quite believe it, if there are other skills they need that I don’t have such as dancing or tap dancing even? She laughs. It is very reassuring: I am what and who she wants.

10: What relation does this dream have to what is happening right now in your life?

For a period life really was a series of auditions – both for parts in plays and musicals, and job interviews. You do anything creative and there comes a time, whether as a singer, performer, artist, writer … or director that you have to be interviewed, show you work and even perform. I hanker after it still. Probably because I so loved the early days of a production and the natural progression to the first night … in this respect far preferring theatre to filmmaking which is very bitty, and for an actor involves a good deal of sitting around, the real ‘action’ being behind and around the camera.

11: Why did you need this dream?

A reminder that all forms of writing are potentially a blueprint to a performance of some kind? The joy of thinking about casting choices made when you compare how the same story is told.

12: Why have you had this dream right now?

Much of my time is spent thinking about the performance of a fictional character and the need for him to be taken up and loved by others. I suppose a fictional character, unlike a real one, could appear in the play, musical and film all at the same time as he can after all be played by anyone. It is refreshing, if not disconcerting, to have a dream as if I were 25 years younger – yet I feel that ‘things’ are as possible now as they have ever been. Though perhaps I am reminded that ultimately isolation is not my desire.

13: What relation does this dream have to something in your future?

It is about acceptance and recognition, even a kind of adulation and ‘must have’ desire in a team of creatives. I empathise with that moment an actor is courted and slowly embraced by a ‘company’ – it is a courtship. I know that my own mistake is or always has been, to try and have or do all three .. that I can never be happy with the decision I make, and that compromising, or leading others on without being realistic is a mistake. Maybe I need to have that agent making some decisions for me if situations like this are to come about, let alone if I am to settle, succeed and thrive.

14: What questions arise because of this dream work?

At some point the ‘art’ becomes bigger than you. Whilst an actor is a corporeal expression of a role, the role is bigger than them. Other actors can and would be found. You can enjoy the ride. It needs others to carry the tune, or to take up the story and to fuel it in the way they see fit?

15: Who or what is the adversary in the dream?

Me. Letting a problem develop. I cannot do all three. It is chance that on the same day I am offered three parts. It is very clear I cannot do all three. The fact that I share my dilemma with the film director is a kind of cry for help that she answers by saying that there are professionals to turn to. I know though that I don’t need to a professional to tell me I want to do the film, and not the play or musical … and the cast of smokers should have emphasised that. Who knows? An agent may say the film is unfunded, the musical struggling because lead players keep quitting … I am not to know and am too enthralled by that day of feeling as if you have won the Lottery.

16: What is being wounded in this dream?

The spoiling of the joy of saying “I’ve got it” – because by ‘getting’ three parts a significant dilemma presents itself.

17: What is being healed in this dream?

The idea that I might never again have that joyous feeling of being welcomed into a ‘team of players’ – I have always been thrilled by that moment.

18: What or who is the helping or healing force in this dream?

I don’t question the support and influence of others, in this case the two quite different directors, who happen to be female: one provides advice, understandably believing that she ‘has me’ – and when I admit to her there is another part I have been offered she pragmatically suggests a third party coming in to help me make the decision. The second director is so gung ho, takes me off to see people in her car with her co-director or producer and has me in a read through before I’m aware I’ve even said yes. I guess, if as young actor were offered three ‘dream’ roles after a career has been languishing each producer/director would naturally assume that they have their man?

19: Who or what is your companion in this dream?

Whomsoever I allowed to be … or no one.

20: Who are your helpers and guides in life as well as in your dreams?

Whomsoever I allowed to be … or no one. I am so bad at taking the right decision, or ignoring advice and doing the opposite, that I frankly relish that actors joy of being told what to do … just so long as it is a ‘good’ part rather than ‘man with spear.’

21: What symbols in this dream are important to you?

Behind the scenes in a theatre and at a read through. Being part of a ‘troupe’.

22: What actions might this dream be suggesting you consider?

Learn how to say no politely? If you can’t do that have someone else do it. Keep questing after the sensations that came from the dream: being welcomed into a throng of fellow performers and creatives.

23: What can happen if you work actively with this dream?

I do wonder sometimes how it is that I can end up, in a series of steps, so far away from the only world I wanted to be a part of since I was a kid and how despite on a number of occasions being embedded in such a world that it turned out to be so fleeting. I remember being on the stage for the first time and my love for the audience. I remember the joy of singing, even to a group of friends. I remember the pleasure of showing a drawing that thrills the sitter. I remember in wonder being on a film set for weeks. And casting actors. And directing them as they say many words. And being the one all turn to recreating a traffic accident where we had actors, extras, all the emergency services, flaming cars, make-up, film and video … Maybe I am so angry at how poor the Mike Newell film ‘Great Expectations’ is compared to David Lean’s version. Having recently re-read the book, seeing these back to back allows me to see all the joins, faults, and decisions. The wrong script, a poor understanding of the book … no ‘theatricality’ in the production beyond the costumes, even Ralph Fiennes being more of a Fagan than a Magwitch, the ham acting of David Walliams … or perhaps the familiar to have all the ‘characters’ played by character actors?! I’ve viewed with a critical eye every film or TV series I’ve seen since … forever. But I am, and have always been someone who never wants to be in the audience: I want to be in the thick of it. I’m not a spectator despite appearances or circumstances. I have seriously set about making myself available as a extra again … just to be on set.

24: What is being accepted in this dream?

There are still things I can do, or should do, that will have value to fellow creators? That I am repeatedly in denial of what makes me exceptional – not meant to be expressed in a big headed way, but rather sometimes none of us necessarily know what are skills are as we smother them by doing what ‘is expected of us’ or by the understandable drives of human nature: we marry, have and raise kids as a priority.

25: What choices can you make because of having this dream?

There is hope for me yet. I’m not that far away from aspects of this dream being a reality. I wouldn’t expect to be the performer, but I could imagine an actor taking a role that is my creation, that other ‘creatives’ latch on to and make into something. I did have the sense that all three of these productions were a similar thing.

26: What questions does this dream ask of you?

Get out there. Be part of a troupe. Be part of a creative team. Be with actors, directors, producers, artists, performers, stage hands, camera people ….

27: Why are you not dealing with this situation?

Inertia.

28: What do you want to ask your dream spirits?

Is it merely a compensatory dream? How can I sustain that joy of having or creating something that others want and are thrilled by? I got a kick from singing. I got a kick from people seeing my work in a gallery. I got a kick from being super fit and doing crazy things on a mountain!!! I am fed up being stuck at home, or ill (and ill). Despite the above, or it is part of it, I hanker after being on the ocean and under sail! Another team activity too. It is one thing to have a thrill on your own, it is quite another to share it – to have others enjoy your good fortune or to enjoy how thrilled you are about a thing.

What will you look like twenty years from now? Try the App.

Fig.1 JV 2013-2033 – from one niece’s wedding.

We’ll see. My father died young age 71 so I’m less sure I’ll make it to 73. Then again my grandfather made it to 96 … the other to 61 or something.

I stumbled upon this link courtesy of a fellow OU Student on my very first MAODE module way back in 2010. We’re still in touch. It’s a fun App from Orange. Take a current grab using a webcam or use an old photo. It generates an Avatar that will then respond to your talking to texting it. Weird.

I’ve found that if it ‘grabs’ the image first time it works. What does not work is massively adjusting the settings with an image that gave a bad fit in the first place.

 Fig.2. JFV 2014 – 2013 from another niece’s wedding. 

And yes, I’ve already tried old photos of me in my twenties to see how accurate it is and put in friends to see what it does to them. I’ve had me speaking fluent French too – easier than continuing with L120.

In 20 years time

http://oran.ge/1I4Vjs0 

Three reasons to revitalise, reinvent and revolutionise education

Fig. 1, Ken Robinson: On education … and a fix for the huge drop-out rate in American Schools.

An excellent TED lecture. Worth taking notes. These are mine.

Offered by fellow student Marshall Anderson on the H818: The networked practitioner journey.

Worth listening to a couple of times (as I have just done).

Music to my ears, though I am not a teacher and have given too much of my career to the mechanised teaching he knocks … digital and interactive learning is and has been, surely, a product of the mechanised approach? But you don’t question the legitimacy of e-learning in an e-learning agency and suggest that a blended approach would be better.

They have one product on the shelf.

Which puts me at odds with the hand that has fed me for the last couple of decades. Next stop Finland? There is of course an answer here and that is recognising, please, that children, whilst deserving a better education system and approach, are NOT always at school … this curiosity and motivation can be developed at home if and where a family have parents with the time and inclination and where, ideally, they also have contact with grandparents and even cousins, and especially friends.

FIG.2. TED Lecture with Ken Robinson

Ken Robinson is right to celebrate the human side of the child, that:

  1. human beings are naturally different and diverse
  2. that ‘lighting the light of curiosity’ is key and that
  3. human life is inherently creative.

For the moment my interest is with my 17 year old daughter and 15 year old son … hoping and helping them to find and know what motivates them. It is this that will get them through school, a worthwhile goal beyond the barriers that exist in formal education – you still have to satisfy the standardised tests in order to get a place at university. Which is another schooling environment Ken Robinson doesn’t touch upon – you can give us human beings too much freedom. Parameters are stimulating, both the negative and positive ones.

A struggle makes something worthwhile.

It helps to create a common memory too. Fundamentally this reminds me that any learning and especially e-learning needs to be seen in context – an e-learning platform or project is never exclusive, it is always part of what else is going on in the participant’s life.

Blended, rather than pure e-learning is surely therefore the way forward?

Wise words put succinctly and with wit. Common sentiments that we struggle to realise. Privately educate? Home educate? Or move to Finland, Canada or Singapore?

Networks, Groups and Sets

Fig.1. My groups, sets, nets and collectives … based on an article (unpublished 2014) by Dron & Anderson.

Groups: Any OU Tutor group – you are put in it, you don’t, in an informed way, form a group or elect to join one group over another. I also belong to a ‘group as cohort’ of some 16-20 postgrad students on the university of Birmingham’s First World War (British Military History). Here only by default of signing up in 2013. But also groups you join or form yourself. Or is a set a sub-group?

Sets: OU Tutor groups can become ‘set-like’ and ‘net-like’ – it depends wholly on serendipity that would only be resolved through psychological profiling to ensure a mix that would foster team work! An example of a set that is becoming a networked group are the reader review forums in Amazon. In the last year threaded discussions, particularly on controversial books, have become heated, protracted and informative. I belong to such sets related to Elearning as well as books coming out to mark or exploit the centenary of the First World War.

Nets: ?

Collectives: a writers group that formed between 1999 and 2002 in Diaryland, a group with interests related to grandparents and great-grandparents who were either combatants in the Machine Gun Corps the Royal Flying Corps or during the Third Battle of Ypres, ‘Passchendaele’; applied eLearning in business (corporate eL & D), probably a still quasi-association of OpenStudio links of the more active and reciprocally linked students – especially if and where these have ‘leaked’ into external social platforms (LinkedIn and WordPress blogs).

Whilst the terms are interesting they are open to considerable debate and constant change. Instead of terms, network theory should be brought in to give the number, strength and ‘vibrancy’ otherwise we risk being stuck in a debate on semantics. Web 2.0 connectedness is too big, too messy, too fast changing …

Creating things in a social context – construct, connect, social cognition – is not new. Think of university student amateur theatre groups from uni, to the Fringe and ‘Beyond the Fringe’. The greater the sharing, the greater the benefits – unless that becomes your modus operandi and the assessment process is out of kilter, typically reverting to an essay rather than the artefact as a product of a collective effort (such as an end of term play, exhibition, film or other event that is conducive to collective enterprise).

‘Permission to make mistakes’ is the creed of creatives and entrepreneurs alike. Connectedness equates also to distraction – at some stage you have to close yourself off, shut the doors and turn off the Internet. i.e. for all the networking writing is a lonely and singular task. Team tsks are a different story.

We have needed typology since Noah’s Ark, to try and agree terms so that conversations can be succinct and make sense. The risk here, and I’ve seen it in learning design, is that the terms become set in concrete in the minds and in the usage of an exclusive handful of academics and so ceases to be pertinent to others who cannot speak in that rarified language – this article shows a creep in that direction.

The likelihood of ‘creativity’ emerging from the kindle formed by the twig-like links between groups and sets, the natural ‘serendipity’ of creation evolving from mistakes and exposure to a myriad of ideas has been put on speed by Web 2.0.

Do you understand the same thing from Dron and Anderson’s four terms?

On the basis of definitions provided by the Merriam-Webster dictionary it is difficult to distinguish between groups and nets as both contain people that are connected in some way, or between collectives and groups, as a collective is a group. A set suggests belonging or use, which also makes it group-like, though less ‘connected’. For these reasons I disagree with the way Dron & Anderson (2014) try to define these terms.

Were these categories useful?

No. There are other and more suitable ways to look at how people relate to each other … and relate to themselves (there are internal relationships that allows the individual to take sides, and have an internal debate). Activity Theory tries to show how groups, also called nodes are connected; Yrjo Engestrom has developed the idea to talk not of ‘networks’ but of ‘knotworking’, the tangle of attachments that form where a node connects. Better though would be to think move on from a debate about the terms which will always be ill-defined and contentious and think of network analysis as a science. Networks are of interest because of how much they tell us about the way systems behave, so much so that it is considered a science worthy of study. The ‘read-write Web’ as the authors call it, or the Semantic Web or Web 2.0 is readily suited to network analysis.

What additional questions would you like to ask them?

Independently of sets, groups, collectives and nets ‘memes’ as ephemeral artefacts are also nodes that represent ideas that float as it were between the connections between people. Identifying such memes and seeing how they connect and how such connections and links shift is of interest. This might identify people in ‘sets’ taking as its meaning to ‘set course’ or take a direction … this movement in a common direction towards or with the meme is what identifies this aggregation of shared ideas.

The authors indicate considerable bias by using phrases such as the ‘protective cave of closed systems’ implying that isolation, or working alone is a negative, even an absolute. In any day we will elect to be alone or with others … while at night we may think we are alone when we sleep but our unconscious mind has other ideas. Similarly to suggest that leaving such a cave is a ‘leap into the unknown’ may be how they feel to ‘expose themselves’ but is not how anyone who is inclined to perform sees it – for them ‘being on the stage or in the limelight’ is a leap into the known.

Their argument is weak and hurried. The neuroscience, Darwinianism and psychological aspects of learning individually or in a community, team or or as tribal activity requires far greater development, probably with a neuroscience, evolutionary biologist and a psychologist contributing to the paper.

‘Increased exposure to knowledge also means increased exposure to ignorance, and sometimes, malevolence’.

Think of Hamlet. He exposed himself to the ignorance and malevolence of his own tortured mind. You don’t have to expose yourself or your ideas to feel these things.

Whilst the ‘read-write Web’ exposes us to new ideas and ideas with more flavour (Dron & Anderson, 2014), they also do the opposite, exposing us to old ideas and the bland. It is like walking through a metropolis – you cannot be influenced by everything, only by those things you find or stumbleupon. This might reinforce your beliefs, or alter them depending on how and where you look.

REFERENCE

Engestrom (2008). From Teams to Knots (Learning in Doing: Social, Cognitive and Computational Perspectives) (p. 238). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

Three reasons to revitalise, reinvent and revolutionise education

Ken Robinson: On education … and a fix for the huge drop-out rate in American Schools.

An excellent TED lecture. Worth taking notes. These are mine.

Offered by fellow student Marshall Anderson on the H818: The networked practitioner journey.

Worth listening to a couple of times (as I have just done).

Music to my ears, though I am not a teacher and have given too much of my career to the mechanised teaching he knocks … digital and interactive learning is and has been, surely, a product of the mechanised approach? But you don’t question the legitimacy of e-learning in an e-learning agency and suggest that a blended approach would be better.

They have one product on the shelf.

Which puts me at odds with the hand that has fed me for the last couple of decades. Next stop Finland? There is of course an answer here and that is recognising, please, that children, whilst deserving a better education system and approach, are NOT always at school … this curiosity and motivation can be developed at home if and where a family have parents with the time and inclination and where, ideally, they also have contact with grandparents and even cousins, and especially friends.

FIG.2. TED Lecture with Ken Robinson

Ken Robinson is right to celebrate the human side of the child, that:

  1. human beings are naturally different and diverse
  2. that ‘lighting the light of curiosity’ is key and that
  3. human life is inherently creative.

For the moment my interest is with my 17 year old daughter and 15 year old son … hoping and helping them to find and know what motivates them. It is this that will get them through school, a worthwhile goal beyond the barriers that exist in formal education – you still have to satisfy the standardised tests in order to get a place at university. Which is another schooling environment Ken Robinson doesn’t touch upon – you can give us human beings too much freedom. Parameters are stimulating, both the negative and positive ones.

A struggle makes something worthwhile.

It helps to create a common memory too. Fundamentally this reminds me that any learning and especially e-learning needs to be seen in context – an e-learning platform or project is never exclusive, it is always part of what else is going on in the participant’s life.

Blended, rather than pure e-learning is surely therefore the way forward?

Wise words put succinctly and with wit. Common sentiments that we struggle to realise. Privately educate? Home educate? Or move to Finland, Canada or Singapore?

How insight and creativity works – towards a theory of creativity

Why are we insightful? What is going on in the brain when we have a flash of insight?

Horizon on the Brain looks at:

  • Insight
  • Divergent thinking
  • Improvisation
  • Unusual and unexpected experiences
  • Schema violation

Based on this I’m going to take up something mindless to do between the gaps – doing the dishes surely counts?

Reading does not?

Watching TV does not?

  • Walking the dog
  • Falling asleep in the bath
  • Pruning bushes
  • Mow the lawn

When and where do people have moments of creativity?

The neuroscience of electromangentic and fMRI scans.

Human advancement is dependent on creativity.

You will hear from:

  • Prof Jonathan Schooler
  • Dr Mark Beeman
  • Dr Charles Limb
  • Dr Simone Ritter
  • Dr Jon Kounios
  • Dr Rex Young

You will hear about:

  • The neural correlate of creativity
  • The anterior superior antilial giros
  • Look for unexpected experiences Scehema violation
  • Breaking cognitive pedants

Breaking any routine – switching steps Change your routines Well trodden neural pathways are abandoned.

  • Mind wandering helps the creative process Engaging in a non–demaning task
  • Don’t just do nothing, do something undemanding instead …

If you’re stumped, take a break e.g. walk, shower, gardening … walk the dog.

  • Down regulate your frontal lobes.
  • Some people are hypofrontal. Losing your inhibitions when you improvise.
  • Releasing your mental handcuffs.
  • Science to explain.

Towards a theory of creativity.

REFERENCE

 

The communismization of knowledge and Open Educational Resources

Fig.1. I like spirals. Thirty years ago this was just a photo. For me it is an expression of what learning looks like. (I think this is St.John’s College, Boat House – or is it Balliol?)

At the base are the undergraduates, the first years, as you climb the steps you find the second and third years, then the middle common room the MA and D.Phil students while at the top are the lecturers, senior lecturers and professors.

And when you die they raise a flag.

In 1983 (or was in 1982?) this was the epitome of ‘closed learning’ – the Oxford College boat house.

Not so much ‘dreaming spires’ as ‘dreaming spirals’.

  • It was a privilege, but like many of these I’ve been either in denial or trying to shake them off for the best part of 25 years.
  • ‘Je suis comme je suis, je suis faite comme ca’ (Jacques Prevert)
  • And there’s no going back.

I was up at 4.03am. Back to bed at 6.15am. Then up again 20 minutes ago.

  • My body was tired, my head continued to buzz.

Regarding ‘Open Learn’  what’s all this fretting about process for?

Have we all forgotten the purpose of research????

Not ‘how?’ but ‘why?’

Why? Why? Why?

We are seeking answers, not trying to construct a bridge across the English Channel with chopsticks and bendy-straws.

Not to get the process right, but to get answers to problems, to find better ways, to understand and share what is going on so that we can act, or not act on it?

Sometimes I read an academic paper and it is all about the process.

Too often I write an assignment and it has to be written to be marked – not to generate ideas. In fact, my finest few hours, a total End of Module Assignment rewrite was a disaster for a set of marks but is my theory and philosophy of what learning is. It was the culmination of months of work, years even. Expressed somewhere like the School of Communication Arts I would have had the attention of eyes and ears.

Fig.2. Submitted as the hypothesis for an End of Module Assignment the grade was catastrophic – it is of the module, but the examiners didn’t have a grid filled with the appropriate crumbs that would permit them to ‘tick the boxes’. (I did submit more than the image, 6ft high and drawn on a sheet of backing wallpaper).

Creativity doesn’t fair well in a process driven system, either in research or in marking assignments.

This isn’t an excuse regarding a grade or the need and value of process drive, guideline controlled, parameter set research, but rather a cry for some ‘free thinking’ the ‘parcours’ of mental agility and expression.

Fig.3 The cliffs below Roche de Mio, La Plagne

There is value in going off piste.

It isn’t even the democratisation of education and knowledge either, it is the Tim Berners-Lee rather than the Google approach to knowledge – i.e. give it away for free.

It  is ‘communismization’ – which is a word, however horrible it sounds, I just looked it up.

This moves me onto dwelling on Creative Commons.

If the idea of openness is to give it away for free what is the reward for the author? Recognition as the author. However, I get the feeling that unless it is published some readers think they can help themselves to the ideas and words of others and claim them as their own.

There will always be theft, but as children aren’t we told that for someone to copy your ideas is a compliment?

We need to behave like the children we still are.

But does even that matter in an open society – theft of intellectual property I mean?

If the spreading of the word is all important should any of us give a fig?

If we have a roof over our heads, food and water, electricity to charge the iPad, the BBC  … a health service like the NHS what more can we want?

  • Better schools.
  • Better roads.
  • Better weather.

‘Peace on earth and good will to humankind’.

A better word needs to be found for what is meant by ‘communismization’.

Is is just ‘communization’?

  • Is it simply ‘open’?!
  • ‘Open’ might do.
  • Free
  • Open

As the air we breathe …

P.S. I worked the season in Val d’Isere in my gap year and returned a decade later and stayed in La Plagne from December to May researching a book and a couple of documentaries for Oxford Scientific Films. None saw the light of day, though after several weeks thinking about it I came down that cliff face. I made a big mistake by slowing down at the edge and nearly didn’t have enough distance to clear the rocks. I no longer have a death wish. And it wasn’t even fun. It focused the mind though. In fact, the best way to stop yourself thinking about other stuff is to take such risks. Racing Fireballs in the English Channel has its appeal  – I  have a tendency to end up in the spinnaker or under the hull though.

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.

 

What is learning design?

Learning design, indeed any design, is about problem solving. If there isn’t a problem there is nothing to do.

No need to create learning, to advertise, to change, to brainstorm … recognise the problem then resolve to fix it. If this requires problem solving techniques just to get the scope of the problem, or objective set down, so be it. Then set about solving the problem, not shoehorning a response whether it is e-learning, video, a job description … but looking for the best, most appropriate or right way forward.

E-learning is no panacea.

There are still leaflets, workshops, conferences … Then research, write and agree a creative brief.

Then cost, schedule and build your team.

Then get on with it.

You might end up with the equivalent of a chair, a house or a small town … but it is fundamentally problem solving.

%d bloggers like this: