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Universitat de Barcelona – The pleasure of learning new words

Universitat de Barcelona – The pleasure of learning new words.

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The spoken word is crucial to understanding.

The spoken word is crucial to understanding.

Fig.1. Meeting face to face to talk about e-learning – sometimes a webinar wont’t do, though more often you have no choice. 

‘I don’t know what I mean until I have heard myself say it, Said Irish author and satirist Jonathan Swift

Conversation plays a crucial element of socialised learning.

Courtesy of a Google Hangout we can record and share such interactions such as in this conversation on and around ‘personal knowledge management’. Here we can both see and hear why the spoken word is so important.

Trying to understand the historical nature of this, how and when the written word, or other symbols began to impinge on the spoken word requires investigating the earliest forms of the written word and trying to extrapolate the evidence of this important oral tradition, the impact it had on society and the transition that occurred, after all, it is this transition that fascinates us today as we embrace the Internet.

Humans have been around for between 100,000 and 200,000 years. (Encyclopedia Britannica).

There are pigments and cave painting have been found that are 350,000 years old. (Barham 2013), while here are cave paintings as old as 40,000 years (New Scientist).

Stone Age man’s first forays into art were taking place at the same time as the development of more efficient hunting equipment, including tools that combined both wooden handles and stone implements. (BBC, 2012). Art and technology therefore go hand in hand – implying that the new tools of the Internet will spawn flourishing new wave of creation, which I believe to be the case. This era will be as remarkable for the development of the Web into every aspect of our lives as it will be for a epoch identifying renaissance – a new way of seeing things.

We’ve been seeking ways to communicate beyond the transience of the spoken word for millennia.

McLuhan takes us to the spoken word memorised in song and poetry (Lord, 1960 p. 3) while a contemporary writer, Viktor Mayer-Schonbeger, (2009. p. 25) also talks about how rhyme and meter facilitated remembering. McLuhan draws on 1950s scholarship on Shakespeare and asks us to understand that Lear tells us of shifting political views in the Tudor era as a consequence of a burgeoning mechanical age and the growth of print publishing. (Cruttwell, 1955)  McLuhan suggests that the left-wing Machiavellianism in Lear who submits to ‘a darker purpose’ to subdivide of his kingdom is indicative of how society say itself developing at a time of change in Tudor times. Was Shakespeare clairvoyant? Did audiences hang on his words as other generations harken the thoughts of  H G Wells and Karl Popper, perhaps as we do with the likes Alan de Bouton and Malcolm Gladwell?

‘The Word as spoken or sung, together with a visual image of the speaker or singer, has meanwhile been regaining its hold through electrical engineering’.xii. Wrote Prof. Harry Levin to the preface of The Singer of Tales.

Was a revolution caused by the development of and use of the phonetic alphabet?

Or from the use of barter to the use of money?

Was the ‘technological revolution’ of which McLuhan speaks quoting Peter Drucker, the product of a change in society or did society change because of the ‘technological revolution’? (Drucker, 1961) Was it ever a revolution?

We need to be careful in our choice of words – a development in the way cave paintings are done may be called a ‘revolution’ but something that took thousands of years to come about is hardly that.

Similarly periods in modern history are rarely so revolutionary when we stand back and plot the diffusion of an innovation (Rogers, 2005) which Rogers defines as “an idea, practice, or object that is perceived as new by an individual or other unit of adoption. (Rogers, 2005. p. 12). To my thinking, ‘diffusion’ appears to be a better way to consider what has been occurring over the last few decades in relation to ‘technology enhanced communications’, the Internet and the World Wide Web. But to my ears ‘diffusion’ sounds like ‘transfusion’ or ‘infusion’ – something that melts into the fabric of our existence. If we think of society as a complex tapestry of interwoven systems then the Web is a phenomenon that has been absorbed into what already exists – this sounds like an evolving process rather than any revolution. In context of course, this is a ‘revolution’ that is only apparent as such by those who have lived through the change; just as baby boomers grew up with television and may not relate to the perspective that McLuhan gives it and those born in the last decade or so take mobile phones and the Internet as part of their reality with no sense of what came before.

Clay tablets, papyri and the printing press evolved. We are often surprised at just how long the transition took.

To use socio-political terms that evoke conflict and battle is a mistake. Neither the printing press, nor radio, nor television, nor the Internet have been ‘revolutions’ with events to spark them akin to the storming of the Bastille in 1789 or the February Revolution in Russia in 1917 – they have been evolutionary.

Are we living in ‘two forms of contrasted forms of society and experience’ as Marshall McLuhan suggested occurred in the Elizabethan Age between the typographical and the mechanical ages? Then occurred between in the 1960s  between the industrial and electrical ages? ‘Rendering individualism obsolete’. (McLuhan 1962. p. 1)

Individualism requires definition. Did it come with the universal adult suffrage?

Was it bestowed on people, or is it a personality trait? Are we not all at some point alone and individual, as well as part of a family, community or wider culture and society? We are surely both a part and part of humanity at the same time?

Edward Hall (1959), tells us that ‘all man–made material things can be treated asextensions of what man once did with his body or some specialized part of his body. The Internet can therefore become and is already an extension of our minds. A diarist since 1975 I have blogged since 1999 and have put portions of the handwritten diary online too – tagging it so that it can be searched by theme and incident, often charting my progress through subjects as diverse as English Literature, British History, Geography, Anthropology and Remote Sensing from Space, Sports Coaching (swimming, water-polo and sailing). This aide memoire has a new level of sophistication when I can refer to and even read text books I had to use in my teens. It is an extension of my mind as the moments I write about are from my personal experience – there is already a record in my mind.

What is the Internet doing to society? What role has it played in the ‘Arab Spring’? McLuhan considered the work of Karl Popper on the detribalization of Greece in the ancient world). Was an oral tradition manifesting itself in the written word the cause of conflict between Athens and Sparta? McLuhan talks of ‘the Open Society’ in the era of television the way we do with the Internet. We talked about the ‘Global Village’ in the 1980s and 1990s so what do we have now? Karl Popper developed an idea that from closed societies  (1965) through speech, drum and ear we came to  our open societies functioning by way of abstract relations such as exchange or co–operation. – to the entire human family into a single global tribe.

The Global kitchen counter (where I work, on my feet, all day), or the global ‘desk’ if we are sharing from a workspace …

or even the ‘global pocket’ when I think of how an Open University Business School MBA student described doing an MBA using an iPad and a smartphone as a ‘university in my pocket’. You join a webinar or Google Hangout and find yourself in another person’s kitchen, study or even their bed. (Enjoying one such hangout with a group of postgraduate students of the Open University’s Masters in Open and Distance Education – MAODE – we agreed for one session to treat it as a pyjama party. Odd, but representative of the age we live in – fellow students were joining from the UK, Germany, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates). I have been part of such a group with people in New Zealand and California – with people half asleep because it is either very late at night, or very early in the morning.

McLuhan  (1965. p. 7) concludes that the ‘open society’ was affected by phonetic literacy …

and is now threatened with eradication by electric media. Writing fifty years ago is it not time we re-appraised McLuhan’s work and put it in context. We need to take his thesis of its pedestal. Whilst it drew attention at the time it is wrong to suggest that what he had to say in relation to the mass media (radio and TV) if even correct then, others insight in the era of the Internet.  This process of creating an open society has a far broader brief and with a far finer grain today – , the TV of the sitting room viewed by a family, is now a smart device in your pocket that goes with you to the lavatory, to bed, as you commute between work and in coffee and lunch breaks. It will soon be wearable, not only always on, but always attached as goggles, glasses, ear-piece, strap or badge.

If ‘technology extended senses’ McLuhan, 1965. p.8 then the technology we hold, pocket and wear today, are a prosthesis to our senses and to the manner in which the product of these senses is stored, labelled, interpreted, shared, re-lived, and reflected upon.

If Mercators maps and cartography altered 16th century mentality what do Google Maps and Street View do for ours?

Did  the world of sound gives way to the world of vision? (McLuhan, 1965 p.19). What could we learn from anthropologists who looked at non–literate natives with literate natives, the non–literate man with the Western man.

Synchronous conversation online is bringing us back to the power and value of the spoken word – even if it can be recorded, visualised with video and transcripted to form text. The power, nuance and understanding from an interchange is clear.

REFERENCE

Barham, L (2013) From Hand to Handle: The First Industrial Revolution

Carpenter, E and H M McLuhan (19xx) ‘Explorations in communications’. Acoustic Space

Cruttwell, P (1955) The Shakespearean Moment (New York; Columbia) New York. Random House.

Hall, E.T. (1959) The Silent Langauge

Lord, A.A. (1960) The Singer of the Tales (Cambridge. M.A. Harvard University Press)

Drucker, Peter F. “The technological revolution: notes on the relationship of technology, science, and culture.” Technology and Culture 2.4 (1961): 342-351.

Mayer-Schönberger, V (2009) Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age

Popper, K. (1945)  The Open Society and Its Enemies, Volume One. Routledge (1945, reprint 2006)

Rogers, E.E. (1962) The Diffusion of Innovations.

 

H810: Language, Terms, Access, Disability, Impairment, Xenophobia …

Multiple asynchronous discussion in a tutor group, more of the same here – then get online and do the same live, in a synchronous chatroom or tutor group, or with those around you (family, friends and collegaues). This is such a terrific way to mold and shape your thoughts on an issue. I am doing H810 on ‘accesibility’ – a timely eyeo–opener with the Paralympics raging.

Forgive me if I keep mentioning the radio but I’ve driven well over a thousand miles in the last three days and not suprisingly there have been many BBC 4 programmes relating to disability due to the Paralympics – all on issues such as the terms to use, accessibility provision and even on how and when someone who becomes disabled ‘Comes Out’ to friends and family, as well as potentially to an institution where they work or study. Best of all, in the company of young cousins galore we have watched the irreverant, though brilliant, ‘The Last Leg’ on Channel 4 – comics and athletes, mostly with a disability though plenty of guests who do not, who rib and tell jokes, or make observations about the events of the day constantly making fun of themselves, their attitudes and the attitudes of others.

Dare I offer the kind of email or text they answer?

‘Is it OK to punch a disabled person if they are being a knob?’ Very Edinburgh Fringe, live and late in the evening, so fruity language used all the time – It breaks down barriers so is a form of access. I’ve got some time having finally got back home for 24 hours so plan to track down through BBC iPlayer the radio shows I’m referring too – as streamed radio these are only available for 7 days after transmission, though some are available as podcasts. Not necessarily outside the UK though? Perhaps if we act quickly we can persuade the BBC to archive and share some of this content? It’s the kind of content that should be given a longer shelf life through Open Learn.

‘Thlid, spas, spasmoid, mong’ … obviously and horrible terms used by boys age 8-10 at a boarding prep school in the 1970s.

Locally and with abusive undertones, children at a nearby home were name-called using a diminutive of the name of the place, ‘Stellers’ for Stelling Hall while at a public school where, for far too many bullying was the favourite sport, any act of stupidity you were called of all things, ‘a right Balliol’ after a local home for kids with learning difficulties. Even tourists got it in the neck as at any opportunity we’d lean out of a bus and yell ‘tourist’ at anyone with a rucksack and hiking boots (the school is in the Lake District). I turned up at this instituion after six months hospitalization, ops etc: having broken my leg very badly. I was nicknamed ‘booties” as I had to wear lace up ankle boots as one foot was smaller/weaker and required support. Did I like the term? Of course not, but by protesting the bullies insisted on using it. An entire cohort of younger boys, if anything at all distinguished them, they got a name, so accent, learning difficulty, squint, hearing, colour, religion – not just Jewish, but Catholics, were singled out.

Courtesy of Facebook I’ve recently been reminded of a list of abusive nicknames given to the teachers – in every case picking out a pysiological trait, accent or behaviour. Horrible.

All what I am saying coming to me from a dark, buried place in my head – no wonder Harry Windsor is admonished for calling a fellow soldier a Paki becuase he got this from Eton and being brought up in an elitist, underserved poweful and exclusive environment. To carry this on ‘we’ should now forever nickname him ‘Bottom’ so he isn’t allowed to forget. I have to wonder from only a term of social anthropology as an undergrad if this, in a pack, or small group, comes from some innate sociatal xenophobia?

Thinking about the opposite of the appropriate behaviour or teriminology makes it apparent how much effort needs to be put in saying the best and correct thing especially as words come with all kinds of associations.

Historically was everyone who was different persecuted?

The solution to this is to get the person’s name as soon as possible, double check with them how it is pronounced, even spelling, then use it – they are a name first, not a category, or a cohort, or an institution, but (like all of us) unique and individual, deserving respect, love and understanding. As I’ve come to understand v. painfully, whatever our bodies may be doing to let us down or limit mobility or the ability to communicate or even help ourselves, there is a good chance that much of or even a part of this unique being is cognitive to the last.

Respect this and imagine if by some twist of fate you were in this position not them – not pity, but the politeness to listen and look with care, even ask questions and never assume anything at all – being kept from the same life chances is perhaps what accessibility is all about, why should those who already be at an advanage be the first or only ones to benefit from enhanced approaches to learning? Technology risks giving an ‘unfair advantage’ to those who already have a head start while access aims to gives everyone a chance or more appropriatley the choice to keep up or catch up in a way that suits them.

‘Accessibility is a process of negotiation’ – spot on.

Listen, ask questions, learn what you can about the person, their needs, wishes and expectations – get to know them. Where it is required offer choices, sometimes by trial and error, as for disabled people like all of us, we have our likes and dislikes, experiences of what works for us and what does not, and from a plethora of potential gadgets one thing or another, good bandwidth or not, a high resolution screen or not, preference for a mouse, tracker ball or tablet and stencil or a specialist keyboard – and so on. Take a course in learning theory!

Context matters. Pressume nothing.

Within reason be prepared to make the time to individualise and adjust everything – and expect to return to this to adjust as circumstances ebb and flow. One size never fits all – wherein lies the biggest barrier caused by mass produced technology from a mouse to off-the-shelf software. Can it be adapted? Is there an App that suits my specific needs? That opens a door that is currently closed?

100 Novels – personally recommended

100 Books (mostly FICTION)

The non-fiction choice, Book 101, is ‘The magnificent Mrs Tennant by David Waller’.

Having kept a diary since my early teens in which I recorded what I was reading (including school text books), I have an extraordinary insight into what was being put in front of my mind. What I find remarkable is how, if courtesty of the Internet and Ebay I dig out these books how quickly my mind can pick up where it left off 30+ years ago. This ‘window’ is a short one, at this level. In a few years I abandoned the set format of the ‘Five Year Diary’ with its specific pages to complete. On the other hand, are there not blog and social media platforms that go out of their way to encourage you to reveal something of yourself through what you read, watch and do?

This list is fluid and understandably incomplete. I have not put in Dan Brown’s ‘Da Vinci’ for example, as I feel it would have to come with a caveat – I read it to find out what the fuss was about. I felt as if I’d been made to play a game of snakes and ladders through an alternative and ridiculous world. It may also have put me off ever believing I could compete as a commercial author if this is what it requires. My excuse might be quaified by the French Movie Director Francois Truffaut who argued that you had to read everything, especially the ‘trash mags’ – indeed, the trashier the book the easier it is to turn into a film?

What attracts us to lists?

I should create a list of the books I’ve tried to read but could not: Ulysseys, War and Peace, Enid Blyton … any other Dan Brown! (Actually, Michael Crichton, even Stephen King, can be as daft and crass).

I see too there are still a few non-fiction works in here; I’ll filter these out in due course as I build my 100 Non-Fiction list.

I am also electing to leave out books that had to be read at school, so I ought not to have Thomas Hardy, T S Elliot or Shakespeare. Nor do I include a book if all I’ve done is see the film, which is how I suspect the ‘popular’ lists compiled by the likes of the BBC are created.

As an exercise, you make a list and immediately start to change it, indeed, I’ve just thought of a very important piece of ficton I read based on recommendation; these often turn out to be the best reads, from people who know you. All my reading of Haruki Murakimi is the product of being part of a writer’s group for a while.

As I edit I will be seeking to keep books in that matter to me, that I could discuss and defend and that I’d like others to read.

Some choices are informed by a friend who read English at Oxford; others from the Guardian’s ‘Thousands Books’ you must read before you die, which, where the library could supply them I would follow, though often having to read something else by the same author (or getting distracted by something else on the shelf).

I will also extract children’s books, those I recall reading as a child, but also those I have read to my children.

Now I’m starting to sound like a bookstore 😦

1  Norwegian Wood – Haruki Murakami

2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

3 Tropic of Cancer – Henry Miller

4 Foundation Series – Isaac Asimov

5 Remembrance of Things Past – Marcel  Proust

6 Tides of War  – Steven Pressfield

7 Gates of War – Steven Pressfield

8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

9 Return to Arms – Ernest Hemmingway

10 Fatherland – Robert Harris

11 The  Naked and the Dead – Norman Mailer

12 Harlot’s Ghost – Norman Mailer

13 The Executioner’s Song – Norman Mailer

14 Engelby – Sebastian Faulk

15 The Birds and other stories – Daphne Du  Maurrier

16 Sunset Song – Lewis Grassick Gibbon

17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk

18 Regeneration Series – Pat Barker

19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

20 Life Drawing – Pat Barker

21 One Day in the life of Ivan Denisovitch – Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald

23 The Gulgag Archipelago- Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

26 Fathers and Sons – Ivan Turgenev

27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – Douglas Adams

29 Vox – Nicholas Baker

30 The Decameron – Giovanni Boccaccio

31 How the  Dead Live – Will Self

32 Time Enough for Love – Robert Heinlein

33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis

34 The Foundation of Paradise – Arthur.C.Clarke

35 Enigma – Robert Harris

36 The Ghost – Robert Harris

37 Pompeii – Robert Harris

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres

39 Orlando – Virginia Woolf

40 Girl in a Coma – Douglas Coupland

41 Animal Farm – George Orwell

42 The Space Trilogy series – C .S.Lewis

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44 All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque

45 A Room of One’s Own – Virginia Woolf

46 The Wind-up Bird Chronicles – Haruki Murakami

47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

48 The Corrections – Jonathan Franzen

49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding

50 Atonement – Ian McEwan

51 The Time Machine – H.G.Wells

52The War of the Worlds – H.G.Wells

53 The Invisible Man – H.G.Wells

54 Tono-Bungay – H.G.Wells

55 The Last Kingdom – Bernard Cornwell

56 The Lords of the North – Bernard Cornwell

57 The Island – Victoria Hislop

58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

60 The Lost Continent. Travels in small town America – Bill Bryson

61 Mother Tongue – Bill Bryson

62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt

64 The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man – James Joyce

65 Decline and Fall – Evelyn Waugh

66 Tropic of Capricorn – Henry Miller

67 Sexus, Plexus & Nexus – Henry Miller

68 Quiet Days in Clichy – Henry Miller

69 The Crimson Petal and The White – Michel Faber

70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville

71 Under a Glass Bell – Anais Nin

72 House of Incest – Anais Nin

73 The Diary of Anais Nin (7 volumes) – Anais Nin

74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson.

75 Boy – Roald Dahl

76 The Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle

77 State of Fear – Michael Crichton

78  The Last Juror – John Grisham

79 A Painted House – John Grisham

80 The Testament – John Grisham

81 A Time to Kill – John Grisham

82 Duma Key – Stephen King

83 Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel

84 Stranger in Strange Land – Robert Heinlein

85 Going Solo – Roald Dahl

86 Crash – J.G.Ballard

87 Timeline – Stephen King

88 Super-Cannes – J.G.Ballard

89 Atomised – Michel Houellbecq

90 Platform – Michel Houellbecq

91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

92 Steve Jobs: The Authorised Biography – Walter Isaacson

93 The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Milan Kundera

94 Watership Down – Richard Adams

95  Macbeth – William Shakespeare

96 I, Claudius – Robert Graves

97 Foucault’s Pendulum – Umberto Eco

98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl.

100 Where the Wild Things Are – Maurice Sandak

12 metaphors visualised to aid thinking about the brilliance of blogging

Why blog?

  • Old ways vs. New ways
  • Isolated vs. Connected
  • Visible vs. Invisible or rather
  • Silent or a presence or sphere of influence

____________________________________________________________

 What do you think?

  • As an academic
  • As an author (or wannabe writer)
  • As a journalist or ‘citizen journalist’
  • You have something to say
  • You want to be heard
  • It’s your job

_____________________________________________________________

You need the social media skills

  • Reputation
  • CV
  • Google your name
  • Interview on Skype

__________________________________________________________________

You want:

  • To be heard
  • To engage
  • To influence
  • To compete

_____________________________________________________________

Beware:

A)  the limitations of the metaphor
B)  imposing old constructs onto new such as:

  • a website as a brochure
  • a blog as a diary, journal or log
___________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________

It is everything and anything online:

  • A digital ocean

  • A digital water-cycle

  • An ecosystem

  • Swim Lanes as a metaphor for learning design

  • Overwhelming volumes of stuff
  • It matters

____________________________________________________________

Distance Learning to Nearness Learning

No longer ‘broadcasting’ but ‘peer-to-peer’, ‘one-to-one’ or ‘group’ influencing

The value lies in the influence of the personal relationship

  • rarely synchronous
  • even more rare to be face to face
  • but as a presence or voice,

  • it is vital.

______________________________________________________________

Analogies make us think, express ideas and through simplification the clarify

  • Ring of blogs (max, ma, min and micro)
  • Ring of Social Media Activities (Linkedin, Facebook and Xing)
  • Saturn’s rings and moons
    A metaphor for collection of webpages, a vibrant, dense, sharp, insightful blogs with a mix of Social Media Networking activity in Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter.
    INSERT RINGS SKETCH

The pattern that  matters to me is between people.

Which I tried to bring to life with a set of chess pieces. I need to work on this, perhaps lay the relationships out on the floor of a conference hall?

Activity systems illustrate how people solve problems are  innovation and generate influence through interaction

_________________________________________________________________________

Who reads, who comments who creates?

__________________________________________________________________________

Conversations between people, content fed in, discussed, shared, informing the website or informed by it.

BLOGGING

Individual or group/team enterprise

Author or contributor

(Guest writers)

Effort, patience, time …

  • Listen
  • Comment
  • Create

WHAT TYPE OF BLOG?

‘Everything and anything goes. You cannot do it wrong. There are no mistakes. At any time you can change your point of view, your style, your book, the pen you write with, the direction you write on the pages, the language in which you write, the subjects you include, or the audience you write to. You can misspell, write ungrammatically, enter incorrect dates, exaggerate, curse, pray, write poetically, eloquently, angrily, lovingly. You can past in photographs, newspaper clippings, cancelled checks, letters, quotes, drawings, doodles, dried flowers, business cards, or labels. You can write on lined paper or blank paper, violet paper or yellow, expensive bond or newsprint.’

Tristine Rainer, ‘The New Diary’ 1976.

CREATE

______________________________________________________________________________

RECOMMEND

  • Niche (person or team)
  • Comprehensive (an extension of the website)

Also personal, unique even quirky … Has a point of view, voice.
N.b. Consistent … Pace can change, but at least like a fire that never goes out … Or it will.

Beating writer’s block – controlled stimulation to get you going

SOCIAL MEDIA as the ‘Water-Cooler’

Two words:

‘Be Sociable’

LEARNING ONLINE

Why the groundswell?

And why now?

Serendipity – best behaviour for a fruitful online experience in a word

MAODE H800 wk23 Activity 2 Stepping over the edge

‘A key characteristic of these new technologies is “learning by doing” – users need to be immersed in and “play with” the affordances that these new digital environments offer, and hence over time get a sense of how they can change practice.’ Conole (20xx:403)

Whilst I may highlight and annotate, doing so on paper isn’t the easiest way to share; using a screen reader is worse because I find myself not enjoying having the obvious affordances, such as cut and paste, disabled.

I have an iPad to learn from it and to share what I discover. It is both the angle and the devil on my shoulder. Does it super-size my mind? It thrills and engages it, indulges and expands, but also risks loosing me in its labyrinthine tangles. Saved for now by a To Do list that I refresh and follow.

But then I find an idea from Conole (see above) that is key. The internet is a trip to the sea, it is somewhere to play and discover. We may require Lifeguards and laneropes but it remains largely an environment that can only be understood through engagement. You will get your face wet, you may get bitten by a crab.

To share this thinking I must go online, and cannot help myself. 

For the last three months I click through Linkedin, reading and responding. For the next three it may be Stumbleupon, which through tricks and traits I find increasingly insightful, feeding me like a favourite aunt or uncle , the weirdness of the http://www. 

Serendipity would be a better word for it. 

I am rewarded by 25 minutes of browsing with ‘new finds’ that becomes stuff that I recommend which in turn obliges me to update my profile, might I even say ‘brand tag’ the finds as ‘mymindbursts’.

(I need two days off to take stock and write up some ten ore more blog entries. Draft I know will do, from my experience as a diarist, just enough to trigger a more expansive and reflecive entry)”.

To remind myself:

Monday 11th Livestream on Social Media Metrics from IET. Five presenters. All to write up from my notes and screengrabs, cushioned or suffocated by the ‘official’ word and slides that have since gone up.

Tuesday 12th Picklejar Social Media for HE in which Tracy Payle shares insights from a number of Universites and through activities tips my thinking upside down and shakes it out onto the conference room table. I come away enlightened and as I had wanted, more confident if mot emboldened.

Thursday 20th Faculty discussion on VLE and my experiences of The OU VLE to date. I take a look at the poster in the Post Room and discover a ‘common room’ I had been unaware of.

The History of English in Ten minutes Reviewed

The story so far:

  • 250,000 on YouTube views
  • 25,000 on iTunes

Picked up by News Week in the US sent ‘History of English’ higher especially as it is so easily picked up by blogs.

The view is that he hasn’t gone viral yet. 

I asked via Twitter during a livestreamed conference this morning if the response in the US was important to make the series viral. I learned that:

  • 70% of our user base is not in UK.
  • Half of that is likely to be in the US.

Four of the videos are currently featured on the main YouTube home page under ‘Recommended by You’ and ‘Shakespeare’ is currently the top download on iTunes U.

Eight of the current Top Ten downloads on iTunes U are from the History of English collection

On News sites

The Guardian Guide/Technology

‘Internet Picks of The Week’

‘What We Learned on The Web This Week’

The Washington Post

Ezra  Klein blog

Educational sites:

British Council

Teaching English

Web2Literacy

Openculture.com

‘The best free cultural and educational media on the web’

Also tweeted it -and resulted in 134 retweets

Times Higher Educational Rankings

E-learning explained – Making meaning from metaphor

It isn’t for lack of overwhelming, immersive and engaging content online, especially ‘how to’ movies and ‘clips’ in YouTube, its how you as an individual cope with this inexhaustible choice. Armed with an 3G tablet and sim card will we find we are learning more on the fly, taking it with us, much of it free, some of it guided and paid for?

Taking advantage of participation (Seely-Brown), learning on the periphery (Seely-Brown), vicarious learning (Cox) and if you can get your tongue around it ‘serendipitous learning.’ (me I think).

I’m finding that 18 months in, and having really started this gig in 1998 when from the agency end we were migrating interactive DVD based learning to the Web, that I of necessity must balance the tools I can play (musical instrument metaphor), compared to those I play with (sandpit, training pool metaphor) … and I suppose those I am obliged to master whether I like it or not (prescriptive tools for work and study – in at the deep end metaphor?!).

Conole (2011) invites us to use ‘metaphors for meaning making’. I always have, often visualising these metaphors. Just search this diary on ‘Metaphor’ to see what comes up. Also try words or phrases such as ‘traffic light’, ‘nurture’, ‘gardening’, ‘swimming’, ‘spheres of influence’, ‘hub’, ‘serendipity’ as well as ‘water’ and ‘water-cycle’.

I therefore offer the following:

Linkedin (For Forums, like this, in groups and networks)

WordPress (for blogging, sharing, wiki like affordances, training, updates)

iPad (or Tablet) (Whilst PCs and Laptops have considerable power and versatility

Twitter (only for niche/target live discussions or quasi-synchronous conversations.

The rest of it is ‘Twitter Twaddle’ – spam of the worst kind being pumped out by pre-assigned links as CoTweets or random disconnected thoughts. This is killing some forums where RSS feeds of this stuff overwhelms any chance of a conversation).

I’ve seen two Forums killed, temporarily I hope, by this stuff, the largest victim being the Oxford University Alumni group. I believe it is simply the case of a new moderator niavely permitting Twitter feeds in on a discussion, ie. having the conversations between 30 disrupted by the disconnected chattering of 300.

Mind, metaphor and mirror neurons – and the impact on blogging

1. Are we hard-wired to how we conceptualise ideas?

2. Does this help or hinder the way we use eLearning tools?

3. Will children, say, 50 years from now, look at paper and pen in the same way as a person does now when they take a first look at computer?

4. Are we at some ‘transition’ point, and if we are, what does this mean?

My tutor in H808 asked me this on 12th September.

I feel far better able to reply now after four months of H808 and some fortuitous reading, though I did respond at the time. My forum thread exchange then and reflection on it today will form part of my ECA.

It surprises me that I have subscribed to a magazine at all, but I find the New Scientist offers plenty on our e-world upon which to reflect and insights to all kinds of other things that tickle my brain.

It matters that you read broadly.

The French Film Director Francois Truffaut was a firm believer of reading everything and anything that caught your attention. He’d have loved the web. It matters that you follow what the web offers, then browse the shelves for magazines at the newsagent on the forecourt of your station.

My favourite button that has been crucial to the longevity of my blog (elsewhere) for the last seven years is ‘Enter@Random.’

We don’t think in chronological order.

thinking is a mess, it selects ideas and makes things up sing different sides and corners and crooks and crannies of our brains. I unplugged the calendar on my diary in year one and replaced it with 12 themes that have now grown to 37. For a period there were 37 blogs, but try managing that, to say you end up with a split personality is an understatement.

My tutor put it to me (and us) the H808 Tutor Group:

1. Are we hard-wired to how we conceptualise ideas?

Dr Vilayanur S Ramachandran thinks so. We have a unique capacity to think in metaphors. This matters. It is this ability that makes us creative, allows us to be inventive, it is what makes us human beings.

Read all about in the New Scientist.

Quoted here within the 200 word count permission for a student quote.

Added as for student reading in a non-commercial academic context having read the copyright permissions.

Ramachandran is particularly interested in metaphor because it ties in neatly with his previous work on synaesthesia – a kind of sensory hijack, where, for example, people see numbers as colours or taste words. “Metaphor is our ability to link seemingly unrelated ideas, just like synaesthesia links the senses,” he says.

After spending years working with people who have synaesthesia, he believes “pruning genes” are responsible. In the fetal brain, all parts of the brain are interconnected, but as we age, the connections are pruned. If the pruning genes get it wrong, the connections are off. “If you think of ideas as being enshrined in neural populations in the brain, if you get greater cross-connectivity you’re going to create a propensity towards metaphorical thinking,” he says.

I don’t have synaesthesia, neither does Ramachandran, but he points out to me the strangeness of asking why, say, the cheddar cheese in your sandwich is “sharp”. It’s true, cheese isn’t sharp, it’s soft, so why do I use a tactile adjective to describe a gustatory sensation? “It means our brains are already replete with synaesthetic metaphors,” he says. “Your loud shirt isn’t making any noise, it’s because the same genes that can predispose you to synaesthesia also predispose you to make links between seemingly unrelated ideas, which is the basis of creativity.”

www.NewScientist.com.

Thomson (2010)

Of the 12 photographs in this issue as many as 8, I think, are from the Getty Image bank. I wonder if one day, especially if I’m reading this on an iPad the images will move, rather as the paints are alive in the background of a Harry Potter movie. It wouldn’t take much for a photography to video as well as, or instead of taking a photograph. Indeed, the BBC now permit directors to generate HD TV footage using digital SLR cameras … the lenses are better, the creative choices wider.

Interesting.

2. Does this help or hinder the way we use eLearning tools?

How we use the web, let alone e-learning tools is in its infancy. We are still putting old ways online, still making web-pages into slide shows and calling them immersive learning. Gaming may change this, with the budget. Better, faster tools will enabled more. Collaboration on world wide wikis with like minds, and great minds, contributing will speed up the rate of change.

We’ll think in the same metaphors though, share and reinforce new metaphors and then some Leonardo da Vinci of the 21st century will come along and break it apart. Though we may not appreciate their insights at all.

Mobile learning, smart-phone learning on the move, or whatever you want to call it should shake things up. At first this will be, and is, the same old stuff sent to your phone, basic card to card Q&A even if it includes a bit if video or an animated graph.

I want learning projected onto the back of my scull, I want it in my head, not online or in a device. I want interactions with specific parts of my brain. I want my brain duplicated so that I can take more lessons at the same time, to learn multiple languages and to take several degrees simultaneously.

3. Will children, say, 50 years from now, look at paper and pen in the same way as a person does now when they take a first look at computer?

It is extraordinary the relationship between our minds and out limbs, or arms and finger tips. With training we can sight read a score and play complex musical pieces, we can scroll, cut, edit, fly and colourise images into a piece of drama that has us crying, or heads in our hands and we can type, like the clappers.

We can draw too, and sculpt, and swim and dance and do gymnastics.

Our relationship with the nerves in our body is a complex one. As for handwriting, our relationship with fountain pens, marker pens and pencils? It ought to be a skill still taught at school, there need to be handwriting competitions as there once were … even if they are tied into art classes and design.

How different is a stylus on a tablet to a piece of chalk on a slate?

I implore my children to write and draw. An illegible Christmas list is no list at all. They’d type, they do type. Yet how backwards is a QWERTY keyboard?

4. Are we at some ‘transition’ point, and if we are, what does this mean?

Yes. And I mean to be part of it.

We have reached the Tipping Point.

A book a read if I recall in 2001 when we thought we were approaching a tipping point, actually we were reaching the point at which the first e-bubble would burst. First and last? These things go in cycles, whatever the politicians do to stymie human nature. Greed and regret, progress, reflection, reinvention … then we do it all over.

We’re not even less violent than we were at the times of the Viking raids.

Meandering? A stream of consciousness? Reflection? Regurgitation?

All of this, and it all matters. You don’t have to read it, and you probably haven’t. This is here for me to find when I need it in seven months or seven years time.

It is remarkable how your views change; so it matters to have what you originally thought in front of you. There are memories I have that haven’t just been reworked over the decades, but have become different events. This isn’t simply age, though that has much to do with it, I view what I did as a child or teenager as I observe my own children today, the difference is, I can’t influence the behaviour and actions of my younger self, though I can, I hope listen to and guide my own children to actions and decisions they will feel comfortable with in the years to come

REFERENCE

Thomson, H (2010) V. S. Ramachandran: Mind, metaphor and mirror neurons 10 January 2011 by Helen Thomson Magazine issue 2794.

The book is dead, so is the e-book, long live conversation

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.

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