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Openness comes with some caveats

Fig.1 At the Brighton Festival – that’s Verity of ‘Verity & Violet’ – or is she ‘Violet’ ?  And what do they all have in common? I changed their nappies.

I’m getting a sense of deja vu as the rhythm of this module reveals itself. Openness comes with some caveats. It is not everyone’s cup of tea.

As people we may change or behaviour in different environments. I am not saying that we as individuals necessarily behave in the same way in an Open Studio online (a virtual studio no less) than we do or would in an open studio, as in a collective in a workshop or ‘atlier’ that is ‘exposed’ to fellow artists –  but is nonetheless human interaction with all the usual undercurrents.

What I believe will not work is to put a gaggle of creators in the same room and expect them to collaborate.

The studios of the ‘open’ type that I am aware of are either the classic Rennaisance workshop with a master artist and apprentices at various stages of their own development, or,  with a similar dynamic in operation, the ‘occupants’ of the studio are exposed LESS to each other and more to external commentators and contributors and this requires some formality to it .i.e. not simply ‘the person off the street’ but an educator/moderator in their own right.

Is H818:The Networked Practitioner too dependent on chance?

The foibles of a small cohort and the complex, messy, moments ‘we’ are in. Three years of this and, by chance only, surely, six of  us in a subgroup jelled. More often the silence and inactivity of the majority makes ‘group work’ a myth – partnerships of two or three were more likely. The only exception I have come across in the ‘real world’ have been actors working together on an improvisation – they have been trained however to disassociate their natural behaviours.

Some of us study with the OU as we cringe at the ‘exposure’ of a course that requires us to meet in the flesh – distance learning suits, to some degree, the lone worker who prefers isolation.

By way of revealing contrast I am a tutor at the School of Communication Arts – a modest though pivitol role given their format and philosophy – exposure to many hundreds of kindred spirits who have been there …  a sounding board and catalyst. NOT a contributor, but more an enabler.

We’ll see.

My thinking is that to be effective, collaboration or exposure needs to have structure and formality in order to work.

At the Brighton Arts Festival the other evening I wonder how the 80 odd exhibitors would cope if the Corn Exchange was also their workshop? In certain, vulnerable environments, the only comment should be praise. Feedback is invited from those who are trusted.

A school setting is different again, as is college … people share the same space because they have to.

Open Studio apears to try to coral the feedback that comes anyway from a connected, popular and massive sites such as WordPress, Linkedin Groups, Facebook and even Amazon. Though the exposure, if you permit it, is tempered and negotiated – Facebook is gentle amongst family and friends, Linkedin is meterd and professional in a corporate way, WordPress is homespun while Amazon, probably due to the smell of money can be catty – and in any case, the artefact is a doneddeal, it’s not as if, to take a current example, Max Hastings is going to rewrite his book on the First World War because some in the academic community say that it is weak historicaly and strong on journalistic anecdote.

On verra

Who would you invite to an e-learning dinner party?

Fig.1. The dining room at Appleby Castle, Cumbria

I posed this challenge to an e-learning group on LinkedIn:

‘If you could invited anyone in the world to a dinner party who would it be?’

I could run this every month on a different continent and keep going for a couple of years … 12 might work better as I’d like to include a few undergraduates and graduates … perhaps guests would be asked to bring a member of their faculty, a young work colleague or inspiring student.

I’ve left myself off. As the host I would be at their service. Running the event behind the scenes and enjoying the conversation before and after.

Martin Bean, Vice Chancellor, Open University. Inspirational champion of distance learning and accessible education. The Open University has over 257,000 active students.

Dame Professor Wendy Hall, DBE, FRS, FREng – Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton, UK, and Dean of the Faculty of Physical and Applied Sciences.

Vilayanur.S. Ramachandran – Behavioral Neurologist and Professor at the Center for Brain Cognition at the University of California, San Diego. Influential academic/research on how we think in symbols and metaphors

Professor Daphne Koller, Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University and a Third generation PhD. Informed on big data, open learn and the future of higher education.

Cammy Bean, VC Learning Design, Kineo US. An instructional designer who mixes creativity and the pragmatic.

Sugata Mitra – Professor of Education Technology at the University of Newcastle. Best known for the ‘hole in the wall’ computers used in research in rural India (and city slums).

Donald H Taylor – Founder and CEO of Learning Skills Group and annual Learning Technologies conference in London every year.

Kirstie Donnelly, Director of Product Development, City & Guilds. From linear video production to a global leader in applied, workplace learning. 

12-16 would give me more scope.

I’d book the dining hall at the Oxford Union.

Dr Zbigniew Pelczynski – Founder of the School for Leaders, Poland. Retired Oxford Professor of Philosophy and Politics.

Dr B Price Kerfoot – Harvard Medic and educator, ‘Spaced Education’ and QStream

George Soros – Investor, entrepreneur and educational philanthropist.

Thomas Garrod – Wiseman of e-learning Global Network, educator, learning design.

Double the numbers and I’d run it as an exclusive weekend on the Isle of Eriska – the castle would be ours with 32 guests for the conference and another 18 family members for the extended visit.

  1. Jonathan Vernon – A career in video communications, training and coaching.
  2. Matt Bury – Wiseman of e-learning Global Network, learning design.
  3. John Seely-Brown – Learning from the periphery, former Xerox educator.
  4. Yrjo Engestrom – Cultural historical activity theory and knotworking
  5. Gilly Salmon – E-tivities, e-moderation
  6. Agnes Kukulska-Hulme – Professor of mobile learning at the Open University
  7. Martin Weller – Digital Scholar
  8. Diana Laurillard – Chair of  Learning with Digital Technologies
  9. Gordon Bell – long lived, lifeblogging, Microsoft research and experimenter.
  10. Jay Cross – educator, speaker, inspired thinker on learning and e-learning
  11. Sir Jonathan Ive – SVP Design, Apple
  12. William Hague – Oxford, Insead and UK lifelong politician. Engaging and extraordinarily bright.
  13. Walter Isaacson – A pupil of Dr Pelczynski (see above), journalist and author of the Steve Jobs exclusive biography.
  14. Steven Pressfield – Author, thinker, influential pusher of the ‘War of Art’ (overcoming resistance).
  15. Marc Lewis – Advertising entrepreneur and Dean of London’s highly influential School of Communication Arts (SCA 2.0)
  16. Viktor Mayer-Schonberger – Director of Advancement of the OII and Professor of Internet Governance and Regulation
  17. Sir Martin Sorrell – WPP CEO. Highly influential and well regarded businessman.
  18. Richard Davey – Founder, owner of influential global law publishing group.
  19. David Waller – Ex FT Lex Columnist and Bureau Chief Germany, Founder of PR agency, Author, Head of Communications at Mann Group, previously for Deutsche Bank.
  20. Susanna White – award winning documentary and filmmaker.

(At the time this photograph was taken Appleby Castle was, aptly, the HQ and Training Centre for a UK based PLC. Managers attended from the US, Australia, Hong Kong, South Africa, the UK and various parts of Europe.)

 

My personal learning environment (PLE)

 

Fig.1. Learning online with the Open University – 6 Dec 2012

This has changed somewhat over 2 1/2 years I have been working towards an MA in Open and Distance Education.

  • I rarely print off.
  • I do most work on an iPad.
  • I use Google Docs not Word.
  • My blog is an e-portfolio
  • EVERYTHING is online.

Webinars are a frequent external indulgence usually with the Learning Skills Group as are industry specific e-learning and creative forums on Linkedin.

Related articles

Who are you talking to ? Currently in conversation around the globe

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Fig. 1. My iPad world clock – all I need now is a Pin and a clickable face of the people in a threaded conversation

As I blog I have always been a sucker for analytics – they impact, for better or for worse. Currently I am intrigued by the coverage of the blog, read in 50 different countries spanning four continents every day. What about conversations though? Synchronous and asynchronous group talk, webinars and hangouts have me starting or contributing to discussions from New Zealand and Australia, west to Singapore and Hong Kong then on to United Arab Emirates and South Africa, picking up Turkey, Germany, France and the UK before crossing the pond to New York, Boston and on the west coast San Diago and San Francisco.

What amazes me here, as I have found in tutor groups with the Open University postgraduate course I am completing, is that when a topic goes hot it comes alive and is kept alive over 24 hours as it is picked up by others getting up or coming in from work. We live in extraordinary times.

The current hot topics in relation to e-learning are:

  • Curation
  • Augmented Learning
  • Virtual Worlds
  • Video Tagging
  • Accessibility
  • Open and Free Learning

Join me on Linkedin (various e-learning groups) for more.

What’s going on in there? A look at the brain and thoughts on the mind

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Fig. 1 Intracranial recording for epilepsy.

Robert Ludlow, UCL Institute of Neurology

First the Royal Academy, meeting with the author of ‘Exploring the World of Social Learning’ Julian Stodd having made the connection on Linkedin a couple of weeks ago, so – read the book, met the author and now we pick over each other’s brains – how we learn is a mutual fascination.

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Fig. 2. A doodle of Medusa‘s severed head in the hand of Perseus

A second viewing of ‘Bronzes’, this time with a drawing pen and pad of cartridge paper – photography not permitted. I wanted to see if my hand was ‘in’ or ‘off’. Most of my time was spent circling the decapitated body of Medusa.

Fig. 3. Icarus – far smaller than I imagined (see below for the publicity shot)

On then to the Wellcome Foundation. In this instance I’d taken one snap on the iPad and was approached and politely advised that photography was not allowed.

A guide book for £1 will serve as a suitable aide memoire.

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Fig 4. Aleks Krotoski

Only yesterday I was listening to and enthusing about Aleks Krotoski on ‘The Digital Brain’ on BBC Radio 4 and blogged about the series so it was with considerable surprise when I overheard her familiar voice and found her at my shoulder about interview the exhibition’s curator. I guess therefore that I listened in on part of the content for a future broadcast.

Upstairs I watched an operation to remove a cancerous growth recorded in real-time from the surgeon’s point of view, then Project 22 in which a woman photographs everything that she eats as she eats it for one year and one day – age 22.

Once again fascinating.

A selective record of a year. Can a record of an entire be undertaken with some degree of necessary selection? Or could a software algorithm sort it all out for you if a memory enhancing device records everything that you do and experience.

Other than the £1 guide, unusually, I have not come away with bags of books though I would recommend the Blackwell’s bookstore at the Wellcome Foundation for bizarre stocking fillers – I Liked the ‘blood bath’ – blood-like bath salts offered in a surgical drip bag, or highlighter pens as syringes.

 

Web 2.0 Tools for Learning – what I recommend


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 (John Seely-Brown), learning on the periphery (John 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 ones 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.

REFERENCE

Cox, R. (2006) Vicarious Learning and Case-based Teaching of Clinical Reasoning Skills (2004–2006) [online], http://www.esrcsocietytoday.ac.uk/ esrcinfocentre/ viewawardpage.aspx?awardnumber=RES-139-25-0127 [(last accessed 10 March 2011).

What makes an e-learning forum tick?

What makes an e-learning forum tick?

This is the crux of social learning for me, what John Seely Brown calls ‘learning at the periphery’ or Cox calls ‘vicarious’ learning and I have dubbed ‘learning through serendipity’.

As a result of taking part you acquire knowledge, you develop your thinking and understanding.

It was no different for me learning French. The school way was hopeless, what I required was total immersion, which is what I got in my late teens turning up in France on an exchange, making friends and returning … then working a gap year as far from English speakers as possible. This is how I learn, many of us prefer this informal approach.

Is it something that corporate e-learning companies and corporate learning departments have yet to tap into?

Gilly Salmon introduced the idea of the e-moderator and e-tivities in 2002.

It still takes excellent moderation, what the French call an ‘animateur’ – someone to host the event and keep it bubbling along nicely.

The mix of attendees matters too. 100 minimum sound like a big number but observation, experience and research show that around 95%  observe, 4% take part and only 1% are more actively engaged.

Whilst this 1%, even the 5% are necessary what does this say about the contributions the other 95% could be making?

This is where events need to have a long tail, to be stored, aggregated, developed, talked over and blogged at greater length. What Grainne Conole calls ‘meaning making’.

Perhaps because it lacks measurement, that there appear to be no parameters.

There are many ways to get content noticed. All the traditional tricks of promotion are required here too.

Email databases, events, trade promotions, press advertising and business cards; online is not a panacea, neither is it replacement technology. It is part of the world we live in, a choice, something else, that complements other ways of doing things.

The ‘long tail’ refers to the way content has a life before, during and after being posted.

There is a story to tell in its creation and promotion; its release should factor in for a long shelf life, then there is this ‘after life’, how once posted content may then be picked up by others and developed into different, better and alternative things. Keep tabs on this and content online becomes more like street theatre, or talking from a soap box on Hyde Park Corner, it is an opportunity to engage with an audience.

I like to blog, use Linkedin and Twitter.

Better to be the master of some platforms than a jack of all  trades.

Reflections on e-learning – September 2010 to September 2012

New Software

Things I was starting to get my head around in 2010:

  • Skype (a phone call for free)
  • Delicious (don’t get it, yet … or need it?)
  • Outlook (Never used it ’til last week not being a PC person)
  • Google Docs (Up there and loading docs. Hear good things from all)
  • Compendium (Created a map for an e-tivity based on my H807 ECA. Populating this to share content with a producer).
  • Zoho (signed in but not sure)
  • Mahara (But Google does it for free and has seamless interplay with all your other favourite Google tools)
  • Pebblepad (Mixed reviews)
  • Adobe Share (Been using Adobe products forever so this should get my attention)
  • Internet Explorer (new to this Mac user!)
  • Dropbox (I’ve always been a box person)

Where I stand in 2012:

  • Skype (use often to friends globally, notably for a job interview with Getty Images, conducting an interview about Spaced Education and on an iPad passing my brother and my nephews around a room of cousins between the UK and South Africa at Christmas)
  • Delicious (Still struggle, not least as I have more than one account and because I don’t see the need to bookmark anything as to Google is quicker and with cookies enabled takes me into my choices)
  • Outlook (formerly trained at the OU on Outlook – training on a 2010 version while we had a 2011 in our office. Still hate it having been raised on all things Mac. Outlook has the look, feel and functionality of Microsoft DOS c 1992)
  • Google Docs (Use as a store to aggregate content, sometimes to share, wiki-like with fellow OU students who are more up to date with the technology than I am)
  • Compendium (Can’t stand it – prefer a variety of free iPad Apps, including SimpleMinds, Bubl.us and several others).
  • Zoho (signed in and gave up)
  • Mahara (signed in a gave up)
  • Pebblepad (signed in and gave up – initially making do with the OU’s MyStuff, which has been discontinued. Find it easier to aggregate content, while I’m an OU Student in my OU Blog, then cut and paste into one or more WordPress blogs – I had 16 at the last count)
  • Adobe Share (Don’t have the budgets, may be of interest once back in a commercial office)
  • Internet Explorer (Never. Over the period have slowly migrated away from Firefox, like family, use Google Chrome almost exclusively)
  • Dropbox (Not really)
  • PicasaWeb – download for all images from camera, iPhone and iPad. Fix then post to some 50 albums, some with over 1000 images (the Picasa limit), pay for extra space. Uncertain or lack confidence though in degree of privacy, especially if screen grabs and other images are automatically uploaded to Google + images (same PicasaWeb account in a different format)

Where I stood in 2010 compared to 2012:

Old Software

  • Word (Yes, but far less often. I write far more often on the iPad using the AI Writer APP, emailing this to a PC to edit, or uploading into a blog to edit there)
  • Filemaker Pro (No longer. I ran it on Macs and iBooks from its inception but others don’t preferring of all things the ghastly Excel). Have Bento, baby FileMaker, on the iPad.
  • AOL (still with AOL, but prefer Gmail and still thinking about changing supplier to BT or Sky)
  • Power Structure (Didn’t upgrade, my iBook died and the software is on an rescued hard drive though I doubt it will work with a new operating system)
  • Final Draft (An excellent script writing tool though created for linear output)
  • Adobe Photoshop (Haven’t upgraded, making do with Picasa)
  • Dreamweaver (haven’t been near it, I never was a programmer type anyway, though cut my teeth in this in 2000)
  • Excell (A very reluctant user – just cannot see how this is used by some to create posters, or run a database that required large quantities of content in a cell. Filemaker Pro is better)

Blogs

  • Diaryland (Quite the thing in 1999). Locked forever. Up forever. Sometimes cut and paste. Always amusing to read posts on developments in web-based learning c. 1999
  • LiveJournal (Preferred by 2002). A stepping stone out of Diaryland.
  • WordPress (Expert) Over a dozen blogs, most notably Mymindbursts, though no longer a diary or journal, but a niche journal largely about e-learning, with subject interests including creative writing, philosophy, tertiary education, history (First War), online and distance education, theories of education. Also blogs on swim coaching and teaching, on the Machine Gun Corps, on the trials and tribulations of a househusband (from old diaries and blogs), on various fiction themes – but also a number of Books of Condolences, in 2011 for colleagues, but very sadly in 2012 for my mother too.
  • EduBlogs (No more)
  • Blogger (No longer)
  • OuBlog (Extensively for all Masters in Open and Distance Education modules, now on my fifth and final module. Daily reflection, updates, aggregating resources, screen clips, diagrams, images, snips from forums, links to other blogs, tagging to assemble content for assignment, re-blog with re-writes to external blogs. Use it like an e-portfolio with CVs and job descriptions here too.)
  • Blipfoto (A picture a day for four or five months – until I have my iPhone to my son. I make do with an iPad and prefer a cheap phone to have kicking around in my pocket or bag … and to avoid being online when out on the South Downs walking the dog!)

Social Networking

  • Facebook (Love hate. Great to be in touch with immediate family and trusted friends only. Got some groups going with boys I knew age 8-13 at boarding prep school. Got out of hand when a relation fell very ill and died as to the appropriateness of sharing our concerns and grief online. Inclined to disengage – do so only to find I am still there?)
  • MySpace (Never, though I am there)
  • Friends Reunited (Never since they started to charge, or since they came back)
  • Linkedin (extensive, professional use with several hundred contacts and activity in many groups. Feed blog content into Linkedin automatically, tailor some content for specific groups, particularly relating to e-learning for corporates and tertiary education)
  • Twitter (extensive, professional use. Did use TweetReach and various other tools. URLs shortened from WordPress, will use Bitl.y)

Other

  • Flickr (Used to use extensively – migrated all content to Picasa as Flickr tried to socialize the space and I found my pictures being offered for sale!)
  • Kodak Easyshare (Rescued 500 of 700 uploaded photos and migrated to Picasa before Kodak closed)
  • YouTube (Should be making extensive use of YouTube. Starting to digitise 40 hours of Oxford Undergraduate life 1982-1984. With permissions will migrate clips to the web in due course.)
  • Picasa (my favourite now, the teenagers are on Instagram and Tumnblr)
  • Ancestry.com (Covered every conceivable ancestor as far back as is possible online. Could make use of the 2011 census to track down a great aunt but not inclined to fork out anymore or to deal with spurious requests from people so off the map in terms of the family tree it is verging on trainspotting.)
  • Genes Reunited (as above. Not been near it) Of minor interest at a family funeral to figure out who were the common ancestors – both gentleman born in the 1870s it turned out!

Browsers

  • Firefox (very rarely, probably in erro)
  • AOL (winding up here for the last 18 months, should have got out long ago.)
  • GoogleChrome (Almost exclusively)
  • Internet Explorer (avoided at all costs)

What’s new?

For the last 18 months extensive use of an iPad and associated Apps, so much so that it is the replacement laptop and even covers as a mobile phone as people know to email me.

Trying to do my final MAODE module on the iPad.

Proving remarkably easy to do so.

Very versatile, especially where resources can be downloaded as PDFs, even to read in Kindle version. Read from the Kindle, note take on the iPad and post online.

Books. We no longer buy them. Is a garage full of wonderful hardbacks worth anything? Glad I never bothered to put up shelves.

Magazines and newspapers. All redundant. Only kept the Guardian on Saturday to have something to line the guinea-pig hutch, when they went so did the newspaper!

TV. Rarely ever watched live. Prefer BBC iPlayer. Exception being the Olympics and Paralympics.

Pen and paper. I do. An A5 notebook and pen. Though prefer to type up notes as I go along.

Twitter Share. Reading an eBook and sharing a line or two with a note directly into Twitter. This aggregates content in an editable format and alerts ‘followers’ to a good read – usually on learning, education, e-learning, also on social media, story writing and the First World War. Sometimes some great out of copyright literature.

Using Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter for e-learning, life long learning and social learning

Engage, enquire, listen, take an interest, seek out like-minds, involve, share … respond, reciprocate, develop.

This has NOTHING to do with pushing products or services, this is about developing thoughts, acquiring leads into new avenues of enquiry, dropping hints and serendipity.

Increasinly however these three are functioning in the same way, however different they look.

Like ink drops in a tank of water

The visualised option is YouTube, Flickr and Tumblr (I’m yet to develop content for Pinterest)

Blogs are more sedate, more inclined to asynchronicity, whereas with Facebook I find at various times of the day (depends on the person) the messages become synchronous.

An iPad and iPhone (or any similar device) is crucial. With some people the more immediate the response the great the level of engagement, like one hand being placed on top of another the thoughts come thick and fast.

With many ways into social media I’ve opted for a paid service. Content Wisdom. For a monthly sub I get to dip into a catalogue of video based, lecture-like presentations as well as joining a regular webinar.

Join me on Linkedin, I’m active in various e-learning groups.

Join me on Twitter ‘jj27vv’ where I am making various lists to follow conversations on e-learning

Don’t come find me on Facebook! Friends, family and face-to-face contact first is my rule here.

WordPress. 16 blogs and rising, by My Mind Bursts is the main outlet and at last approaching 1,000 entries which are usefully themed on e-learning (post graduate theory and e-learning for business) and creativity (writing and producing fiction, and creative problem solving)

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