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Fig.1. It felt like this even if it didn’t look like this.
I capsized four times this afternoon. The first I got over the side of the dinghy and righted without getting my feet wet; it is six or seven years since I did this crewing a Fireball. Even in a wetsuit the English Channel is cold enough early in the season. The second time I floundered into the drink and the mast ended up embedded in the mud – I had to be rescued. Ominously I’d been out all of six minutes. Was I up to helming a Laser in a Force 6 with a full sail? It took another 90 minutes before the next dunking; I was tired, cramp in one calf, both thighs shaking. By now I’d just about figured out how to wrestle with the gusting wind. I was also trying to get my hands swapped over effectively on ever tack and to keep my feet from being tied up in the mainsheet. Another hour before the fourth capsize: a proper dunking in which I fell overboard rather than the boat capsizing – I was grinning for ear to ear: still am. Like Tantric Sex? Hours of holding off the inevitable then woosh-bang-wallop. It’s the most fun I’ve had in ages. This sudden burst of enthusiasm for sport delivers on many fronts: exercise, fresh air, thrills, a mental and physical challenge … a modicum of risk and much more to do and learn before I take to the sea. In 10 days, potentially, I have my first club race. In the sea. With waves and tides and other boats. Unlike the brain, my muscles now need a day at least to recover – I feel like I’ve been on the rack.
I have a sailing Lasers guide on a Kindle. I read it before and after in the car, and flick through its pages in colour on an iPad before I go to sleep. The combination of trial and error, of applying lessons read, and picking up tips as I rig and go out will in time improve my skills. The next leap is to race: learning from the rear of the fleet trying to follow and copy the more experienced. It might not take too long; I did crew a Fireball in club races for a couple of years so I’ve been in the thick of it before.
I’ll watch some ‘how to … ‘ videos on YouTube too
Fig.1. My Personal Learning Environment
For someone who completed the Master of Arts Open and Distance Education over a year ago and has done further MAODE modules here and other MA modules elsewhere it surprises even me to recognise I learn, and probably do, more when I am NOT in front of the computer (iPad, laptop or desktop).
These days I have no choice but to read books and when I do this is how I set about them:
Read and attach PostIts
Write up, selectively, into a notebook the bits that I’ve picked out (there is a further filtering process here)
Then type these notes up into a Google Doc (typically into a table).
I have become meticulous about citing as I go along as to want to use a quote or idea and not know where it came from can take a considerable time to recover.
An eBook isn’t only on the Kindle (now Paperwhite), but also on the iPad and sometimes even on the laptop or desktop. I read in tight columns with few words, fast – like a TV autocue. As I go along I highlight. Sometimes bookmark something important or big. And from time to time add a note. On other screens the highlights can be colour sorted, so I may theme these as highlights for an essay, for their narrative value, or simply their quirkiness (so I can blog about it).
Interaction with the content in any and many ways is key. Having a presentation to give or essay to write is crucial, otherwise you can read a book and highlight/bookmark far too much of the thing.
Invariably I follow up references. I may loop off to read parts of these references immediately, which may be a paragraph in another book, sometimes a book I can find free online, sometimes an eBook for £2 or so … occasionally a hefty tome that gives me pause for thought. I have a student library card so can get down to the University of Sussex in 30 minutes. Here I’ve just read a few chapters from a biography on Plumer as I’m preparing something on aspects of Third Ypres, the Battle of Passchendaele. My self-directed reading list my have expanded to some dozen texts by now: divisional histories, several biographies on Haig, several books on military history with specialist books on the machine gun corps and gas. My notes are always created in Google Docs and in this case the folder shared with a fellow student who has added his own notes too. The learning process is akin to making a sculpture out of papier mache – I keep attaching little pieces and am starting to get a clear idea of the thing.
Is reading still one of the most efficient ways to pass information from one person/source to another? It’s quicker than a lecture. Good for many things. Were I studying Law surely reading is everything, whereas Chemistry or Physics you may benefit from and prefer the video/animation, the lecture with charts.
Fig.1. Applying learning on the First World War with e-learning – some Kindle reading.
I believe very much in the process of pulling apart, opening out, expanding, then editing, revising and condensing. There is an applied ‘creation process’ here – the three diamonds or Buffalo system that I sense H818 is taking us through.
Fig.2. The ‘Buffalo’ system of opening up, the compressing thinking
These days it is easy to grab and mash any content on a digital screen, but where I have a book I will, in some circumstances take pictures rather than write notes, then quickly bracket and annotate this text before filing it in an appropriate album online – for later consumption.
Regarding CC I’m afraid as the music and movie industries have already shown people will do as they please even where the copyright is bluntly stated. Academia will require and expect that everything is done by the book – the rest of the world won’t give a monkey’s … ‘we’ll’ do as we please until there’s a legal shoot up or the ‘industry’ realises that it has moved on.
Regarding eBooks, Amazon are looking at and expect to be very much at the forefront of the evolutionary of the book. Google are competing in the same space.
‘Have we reached the Napster moment in publishing?’ a senior engineer at Amazon asked.
My head, content wise, is in another place, studying First World War military history. As never before on the MAODE or subsequent OU e-learning modules, I know have content to put into these processes. For example, ‘the causes of the First World War’ might require reading of a dozen books and papers/pamphlets starting with H G Wells in 1914 and ending with books appearing on tables in Waterstones this week. Courtesy of the Internet just about anything I care to read, at a price, I can have within seconds on a smart device … or overnight courtesy of Amazon.
Whatever my practice, this content is mashed-up in my head.
If I mash it up through screen grabs, notes, sharing in social media and blogging then this is another expressing of what is going on in my head – though controlled by the parameters of the tools and platforms I use – currently a wordpress blog, SimpleMinds for mindmaps, and ‘Studio’ for layering text and images over screengrabs i.e annotations. As well as what ever Kindle gives me in the way of notes and highlights.
This kind of ‘extra corporeal’ engagement or visualization of what is going on in my head with the content gives it an life of its own and an extra dimension while also re-enforcing my own thoughts and knowledge. I’m sure that I am rattling along this learning curve at a far, far greater pace then I could have a decade or two decades ago. Patterns are more apparent. And I am spotting too many misappropriated images too. The idea that you can grab a frame and relabel it is 100 years old!
Fig.3. How I filmed the Front. Geoffrey Malins
For example, the footage from the ‘Battle of the Somme’ is often ‘grabbed’ with subsequent combatants and authors claiming these to be original photographs of their own – they must have had access to the negative. This footage, as I am very familiar with it, is repeatedly put into films and documentaries completely out of sequence.
As reference above is correct – I find ‘grabs’ from the film footage and photographs taken by Ernest Brooks who accompanies the ‘cameramen’ around the Somme in June/July 1916 constantly claimed as another person’s own photograph or belonging to their collection.
A false or alternative impression is therefore built up.
Then, across YouTube, sections of TV dramas and films are snatched and cut into a person’s own re-hashing of a different story. Harry Patch died age 111 or something – the last veteran. A tribute to him uses footage from the TV drama starring Daniel Radcliffe called ‘My Boy, George”.
Are we therefore seeing with text, stills and moving images what has been happening to music for the last decade or more – deliberate, and often illegal sampling and mashing, rehashing, exploiting of someone else’s work? If so what impact will this have on content in the future? Does too much of it start to look familiar, rather than original? Or does originality come out of this process too?
The conclusion might be that people simple sidestep the stilted, stuck, formal process of academia – where the sharing process is so desperately slow. The paper I read on use of audio and tracking in a museum I thought was reasonably current as it was published in 2008 but the technology used comes from a different era – 2003. Research done in 2006, initially submitted as a paper in 2007, published the following year.
An R&R department functioning like this would be left behind.
Knowledge must leak, must be shared sooner, and where those share a work in progress it should be commended.
Fig. 1. Education as nurture – the graduates of the School of Communications Arts, 1988)
As Vygotsky put it:
‘The gardener affects the germination of his flowers by increasing the temperature, regulating the moisture, varying the relative position of neighboring plants, and selecting and mixing soils and fertilizer, i.e. once again, indirectly, by making appropriate changed in the environment. Thus it is that the teacher educates the student by varying the environment’. Vygotsky 1926 (Kindle location 1129)
And further on he says:
‘The basic rule is that before imparting new knowledge to the child and before fostering a new reaction in him, we must be sure to prepare the ground for it i.e. arouse the appropriate interest. For an analogy, just think how we loosen the soil before planting seeds’. (Kindle location 1755)
The way we learn hasn’t changed in a generation, not in centuries or even millenia – natural selection doesn’t work like that, we are still hunter gatherers on the plains of Eastern Africa. Our imagination, our struggle in adversity, has brought us a long way though. The tools we use to learn have changed more so in the last decade than at any other time in several centuries – eBooks are replacing print and our classroom has virtual walls and may comprise several thousand minds … and can be as intimate as you and a leading academic you stumble upon.
If a place of learning is a garden and a classroom a raised bed, then perhaps the way we should look at connected Web 2.0 learners is more akin to rows of strawberries.
Fig. 2. Self-organisation and interconnection in a bed of strawberry plants
- Here’s how to improve retention in e-learning – scaffolding, mentors, interaction and community (mymindbursts.com)
- How to weed your garden – Weeding Guide (abellandscaping.wordpress.com)
- Lev Vygotsky: Pioneer of Psychology (learnpsychology.wordpress.com)
- A beginner’s guide to starting a veg garden (telegraph.co.uk)
Activity designed to provide an insight into scripting content that is image rich for the visually impaired
Fig.1. Kindle by the pool. Taking swim sessions armed with a Kindle edition of ‘The Swimming Drills book. A perfect aide memoire for the coach. A tool that grabs the attention of swimmers (I use this with 5 year olds to 75 year olds)
As part of the Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) module H810 Accessible Online Learning : supporting disabled students we are looking at how best to describe visual content for the visually impaired. This fascinating exercise sees me refreshing my ideas on scriptwriting.
Asked to find an example of an online learning resource from my own context I decided to turn to swimming
Teaching breaststroke : symmetrical whip kick and glide, arms in front of the shoulders during the pull, head still looking no further than in front of your hands.
Coach Marlins – my swim teaching and coaching blog.
A personal resource, reflection on swimming (masters) and coaching for Mid Sussex Marlins Swimming Club. A first step towards creating a mobile resource. Below is an excerpt from a typical morning teaching four groups – three grade groups (4.5.7) typically 7 – 11 year olds) and a disability swimming group of children and adults.
Grade 7 are technically superior and have more stamina and may be a little older. The ones I watch out for are the 7 year olds in with 10 and 11 year olds as they need a different approach, TLC and play.
- 3 x 50m warm up of front crawl and backstroke
Always giving a tip before starting them off (and accommodating the odd swimmer who is invariably late), say ‘smooth swimming’ or ‘long legs’. i.e. reducing splashing and creating a more efficient swimmer.
- Make sure too that there is a 5m between each swimmer.
- 25m of Breaststroke to see what I’ve got and potentially adjust accordingly.
Fig. 2. Breaststroke kicking drill from ‘The Swimming Drill Book’
- Kick on front with a kicker float.
- Taking tips from ‘The Swim Drill Book’
- I remember to put as much emphasis on keeping the chin in.
The glide is key – this is where to put the emphasis.
- May start the ‘Kick, Pull, Glide’ or better ‘Kick, Pull, Slide’ mantra to get it into their heads.
Fig. 3. Breaststroke arms from ‘The Swimming Drill Book’
Standing demo of the arm stroke, from Guzman, forming an equilateral triangle and keeping the fingers pointing away.
- Will ‘describe’ the triangle poolside then ask what it is and what kind of triangle.
- Anything to get them to think about it a little.
Fig. 4. Breaststroke arms from ‘The Swimming Drill Book’
- I show this as a single action.
- Other things I might say include ‘heart shaped’ *(upside down).
- And making a sound effect ‘Bu-dooosh’ as I push my arms out.
Fig. 5. Breaststroke arms from ‘The Swimming Drill Book’
Repeat the need for a pronounced glide, even asking fo a 2 second count (one Mississippi, two Mississippi)
I support by showing images from ‘The Swimming Drill Book‘ on an iPhone or the Kindle
Leading into the turn we do in sequence (from the shallow end):
- Push and glide for count of 5 seconds
- Same, then add the underwater stroke and See how far you can go.
Legs Only Drill (Advanced)
Arms outstretched above the head. No kicker float
- The whole BR transition counting 3,2,1.
Which visual content needs describing?
- The objects that need describing might be photos, diagrams, models, animations and so on.
In the resources I was impressed by the clear, logical, analytical description of some of the complex bar charts, flow charts, pie charts and others. This is how all descriptions should be. In 2010 or 2011 the BBC reviewed how weather forecasts were delivered. It was determined that they were far too flowery. A plainer, clearer approach – overview, identified the region, immediate and forecast weather. Move on. Much more like ‘The Shipping Forecast‘ was wanted and worked better. No more ‘weather-caster personalities’ then. It isn’t entertainment, it is information.
What kind of description is needed?
‘Before beginning to write a description, establish what the image is showing and what the most important aspects are’. UKAAF
‘Consider what is important about the photograph in the context of how the image is going to be used, and how much detail is essential’. UKAAF
In swimming, any description of these visuals should emphasise the purpose of the action, the key action in relation to the physics and physiology of the pull, the action in relation to the rules of competitive swimming.
- Keep it simple
- Get to the point
- Choose the right words
Kick without a float. Arm pull practice standing in water or on the side of the pool.
If you can, ask someone who has not seen these visual objects to read your descriptions. Then show them the object and the context. What was their reaction? (If you have online tools to share visual resources, ask another student in your tutor group to do this activity with you.)
Which aspects of this task were straightforward or difficult?
- Knowing that gender is irrelevant. Putting it in context.
- Take care not to use terms or metaphors that the swimmer may not be familiar with if they have never seen them.
Reading text on a diagram and wanting to shut my eyes so that I can hear the description without the image.
- To get this close to right I need to use a screen reader or record and play back.
- Working with someone who is visually impaired is of course the best approach.
‘Remember that blind or partially sighted people cannot skim read, so let them know how long the description is likely to be’. UKAAF
Knowing what to leave out, being confident to leave something out then knowing how to handle it.
‘It is important that information provided for sighted people is also made available to blind and partially sighted people, even if the way the information is given is different’. RNIB (2009)
An author should write with a single reader in mind – in this instance while visual impairment is the modus operandi – they are first of all a swimmer or swim teacher/assistant – so the description must be given with this in mind, which in turn defines the writing/editing process of what to put in or what to leave out.
What might have helped improve my descriptions?
- Physically moving the student athletes arms and legs through the positions. With their consent, allowing a visually impaired swimmer lay the hands on the arms then legs of someone as they go through the movement.
- An artist’s manikin or a jointed doll, male or female action figure,
- Braille embossed outline.
‘However converting a visual graphic to an appropriate tactile graphic is not simply a matter of taking a visual image and making some kind of “tactile photocopy”. The tactile sense is considerably less sensitive than the visual sense, and touch works in a more serial manner than vision. Therefore the visual graphic needs to be re-designed to make sense in a tactile form for blind and partial sighted readers’. RNIB (2009)
In some subjects, interpreting an image or diagram could be a key skill that students are expected to learn.
Descriptions should follow a drill-down organization, e.g., a brief summary followed by extended description and/or specific data. Drill-down organization allows the reader to either continue reading for more information or stop when they have read all they want.
Keeping this logic rather than imaging the sighted eye skipping about the page, so I imagine I am not allowed to lift the stylus from the screen … it has to be in a continuous, logical flow. Constructing a narrative would add some logic to it as well.
Can descriptions be done in such a way that you are not giving students the answers?
This was an interesting and relevant point regarding humorous cartoons ‘Cartoons and comic strips need to be described if necessary. Set the scene of the cartoon without giving away the joke Provide a brief overview of the image.’
The same therefore applies to ‘giving the answer’ – treat it as the punch line but leave it out. and like a quiz book say, ‘answers on page x’.
What do you think your strategy would be if you can’t find a way to give a description without compromising the learning outcomes?
Script differently – this is after all a different audience – and all students are ultimately an audience of one. Perhaps all resources will become highly personalised in future?
12) How can providing descriptions be included in the workflow process of delivering an online module? (This was touched on in the discussion for Activity 17.3.)
- I liked this quotation:
“When organisations send me information in formats that I can read myself it allows me to be independent, feel informed and appreciated – just like every other customer.” End-user UKAAF
From Describing images 2: Charts and graphs
- Definition of print disability
- A print-disabled person is anyone for whom a visual, cognitive, or physical disability hinders the ability to read print. This includes all visual impairments, dyslexia, and any physical disabilities that prevent the handling of a physical copy of a print publication.
RNIB Tactile Images : http://www.rnib.org.uk/professionals/accessibleinformation/accessibleformats/accessibleimages/Pages/accessible_images.aspx
RNIB Image Descriptions : http://www.rnib.org.uk/professionals/accessibleinformation/accessibleformats/accessibleimages/imagedescriptions/Pages/image_descriptions.aspx
Gould, B., O’Connell, T. and Freed, G. (2008) Effective Practices for Description of Science Content within Digital Talking Books [online], National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM), http://ncam.wgbh.org/ experience_learn/ educational_media/ stemdx (last accessed 10 November 2012).
Guzman, R (2007) The Swimming Drills Book. Human Kinetics Publishers ISBN 9780736062510
UK Association for Accessible Formats (UKAAF) (undated) Formats and Guidance: Accessible Images [online], http://www.ukaaf.org/ formats-and-guidance#accessible (last accessed 10 November 2012).
University of Aberdeen (undated) Keep It Simple [online], http://www.abdn.ac.uk/ eLearning/ accessibility/ checklist/ keep-it-simple/ (last accessed 10 November 2012).
- Try putting any letter from the alphabet in front of ‘learning’ and you’ll be able to say something about it. (mymindbursts.com)
- Swim 2000 Launches New Swimming and Triathlon Blog (prweb.com)
- e-Lessons from s-training – what the whole-part-whole approach to swim training can teach us (coachmarlins.com)
5th May 2012
‘What is the library, when the totality of experience approaches that which can be remembered?’ (Rausing, 2011:52)
Speaking at the Nobel Symposium ‘Going Digital‘ in June 2009 (that ironically took another 2 years before it was published0.
Things are gong to have to speed up in the new age of digital academia and the digital scholar.
We have more than a university in our pockets (an OU course), we have a library of million of books.
(I have an iPhone and iPad. I ‘borrow’ time on laptops on desktops around the house, libraries at work).
I’ve often pondered from a story telling point of view what it would be like to digitize not the libraries of the world, but something far more complex, the entire contents of someone’s mind. (The Contents of My Mind: a screenplay) It is fast becoming feasible to pull together a substantial part of all that a person may have read and written in their lifetime. (TCMB.COM a website I launched in 2001)
‘Throughout history, libraries have depended on destruction’. (Rausing, 2011:50)
But like taking a calculator into a maths exam, or having books with you as a resource, it isn’t that all this ‘stuff’ is online, it is that the precise piece of information, memory support or elaboration, is now not on the tip of your tongue, but at your fingertips.
Rausing (2011) wonders about the creation of a New library of Alexandria. I wonder if we ought not to be looking for better metaphors.
‘How do we understand the web, when this also means grasping its quasi-biological whole?’ (Rausing, 2011:53)
Tim Berners-Lee thinks of Web 2.0 as a biological form; others have likeminds. But what kind of growth, like an invasive weed circling the globe?
There are many questions. In this respect Rausing is right, and it is appropriate for the web too. We should be asking each other questons.
‘Do we have the imagination and generosity to collaborate? Can we build legal, organisational and financial structures that will preserve, and order, and also share and disseminate, the learning and cultures of the world? Scholars have traditionally gated and protected knowledge, but also shared and distributed it, in libraries, schools and universities. Time and again they have stood for a republic of learning that is wider than the ivory tower. Now is the time to do so again’. (Rausing, 2011:49)
If everything is readily available then the economy of scarcity, as hit the music industry and is fast impacting on movies, applies to books and journals too.
It seems archaic to read the copyright restrictions on this Nobel Symposium set of papers and remarkable to read that one of its authors won’t see their own PhD thesis published until 2020.
‘The academic databases have at least entered the digital realm. Public access – the right to roam – is a press-of-the-button away. But academic monographs, although produced by digitised means, are then, in what is arguably an act of collective academic madness, turned into non-searchable paper products. Moreover, both academic articles and monographs are kept from the public domain for the author’s lifetime plus seventy years. My own PhD dissertation,19 published in 1999, will come into the public domain in about 110 years, around 2120’. (Rausing, 2011:55)
The e-hoarder, the obsessive scanning of stuff. My diaries in my teens got out of hand, I have a month of sweet wrappers and bus tickets, of theatre flyers and shopping lists. All from 1978. Of interest perhaps only because 10,000 teeneragers in the 1970s weren’t doing the same in England at the time.
‘We want ephemera: pamphlet literature, theatre bills, immigrant broad sheets and poetry workshops’. (Rausing, 2011:51)
What then when we can store and collate everything we read? When our thoughts, not just or writings are tagged and shared? Will we become lost in the crowd?
‘What if our next “peasant poet,” as John Clare was known, twitters? What if he writes a blog or a shojo manga? What if he publishes via a desktop, or a vanity publisher? Will his output count as part of legal deposit material?’ (Rausing, 2011:52)
The extraordinary complex human nature will not be diminished; we are what we were 5000 years ago. It will enable some, disable others; be matter of fact or of no significance, a worry or not, in equal measure.
A recent Financial Times article agrees with Robert Darnton, warning that by means of the Books Rights Registry, Google and the publishing industry have created “an effective cartel,” with “significant barriers to entry.” (Rausing, 2011:57)
Much to ponder.
‘If scholars continue to hide away and lock up their knowledge, do they not risk their own irrelevance?’ (Rausing, 2011:61)
Allemansratt : Freedom to roam
The Cloud : A Simple Storage Service that has some 52 billion virtual objects.
Folkbildningsidealet: A “profoundly democratic vision of universal learning and education”?
Incunabula: “Incunabula” is a generic term coined by English book collectors in the seventeenth century to describe the first printed books of the fifteenth century. It is a more elegant replacement for what had previously been called “fifteeners”, and is formed of two Latin words meaning literally “in the cradle” or “in swaddling clothes”
Maimonedes : His philosophic masterpiece, the Guide of the Perplexed, is a sustained treatment of Jewish thought and practice that seeks to resolve the conflict between religious knowledge and secular.
Meisterstuecke : German for masterpiece.
Samizdat : An underground publishing system used to print and circulate banned literature clandestinely.
Schatzkammer : ‘Treasure Room’, and in English, for the collection of treasures, kept in a secure room, often in the basement of a palace or castle.
Ruasing, L(2011) (Last accessed 23rd May 2012) http://www.center.kva.se/svenska/forskning/NS147Abstracts/KVA_Going_Digital_webb.pdf )
Whilst I read books and papers using an eReader there are at times when only paper will do.
Reading course notes in H800 of the Masters in Open and Distance Education, WK25.
The again, MindCreator, an App for the iPad is rather useful. Updating this Personal Learning Environment mindmap perhaps suggests I spend very little time ‘on paper,’ and a good deal of time ‘online’. I post this thinking it is up to date; having joined Google+ yesterday the interplay of tools here may change again.
Have we ever lived in such a fluid world?
Created in MindCreator
We’re discussing Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 only because formal academic research takes so long and nothing will change a module within 7 years of it being written.
Weller talking last week is a world beyond Weller of the MAODE, yet systems aren’t in place to adapt responsively, and contact between tutors or profs and keen students is discouraged.
We’ll get this new book this year yet it is out of date already.
We have to move on from the book as a constriction in the stream of knowledge to a living, pre-print vibrant thing.