Home » Posts tagged 'OpenUniversity'

Tag Archives: OpenUniversity

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.)

 

Pause

Fig.1. The Open University Library

I take a break from blogging for a week to complete an assignment for the Open University Module H810 – Accessible Online Learning and what happens?

Views per day increase.

Maybe I’m linking to the blog even if I am not posting? Interesting.

Less is more.

One post a week perhaps. 1,000 carefully crafted words on e-learning?

Later this year I will graduate with a Masters in Open and Distance Education. I have successfully completed FIVE postgraduate modules with the Open University.

I am now looking closely at starting a PhD in 2014.

For the remainder of 2013 I may take on another OU Module,  H809 Practice-based research in educational technology, which will introduce me to research techniques in relation to e-learning and education.

Come and join me? But you only have a few days left to register.

I also want to blog less so that I can devout more time to writing fiction. A short story of a few thousand words a week might be the goal.

It is well known that the average quality of websites is poor, “lack of navigability” being the #1 cause of user dissatisfaction

Fig. 1. A model for professional development of e-learning (JISC, 2010)

It is well known that the average quality of websites is poor, “lack of navigability” being the #1 cause of user dissatisfaction [Fleming, 1998; Nielsen, 1999].

Should a link from a reference that gives dated commentary such as this be given in a contemporary piece of e-learning on accessibility?

My frustrations may be leading to enlightenment but when a subject such as e-learning is so fast moving it is laughable to find yourself being referred to commentary published over a decade ago, and so potentially first written down 13 years ago.

At times I wonder why the OU doesn’t have a model that can be repeatedly refreshed, at least with every presentation, rather than every decade when the stuff is replaced wholesale. They need a leaner machine – or at least the Institution of Educational Technology does.

I did H807 Innovations in e-learning in 2010 – it has now been replaced by H817 – at times H807 told me LESS about innovations in e-learning that I picked up myself working in the industry creating innovative online learning and development in 2000/2001 while the tutor struggled with the online tools.

Here we go again, not from the resource, but from someone cited in it :

In 1999, in anticipation of Special Educational Needs and Disability Rights in Education Bill (SENDA), funding was obtained to employ a researcher for 2 days per week over a 6 month period to produce a concise usable guide to the factors which must be taken into account in order to produce accessible online learning materials.

I don’t want to know or need to know – all of this should be filtered out.

There needs to be a new model for publishing academic papers – quicker and perishable, with a sell-by-date.

In fairness, in this instance, I am quoting from a reference of a 2006 publication that is a key resource for H810 Accessible Online Learning. But I have now found several specialists cited in Seale’s publication on accessibility who say very different things in 2007 and 2011 respectively compared to how they are referenced in papers these two wrote in 1996 and 2001.

For example, compare these two:

Vanderheiden, G. C., Chisholm, W. A., & Ewers, N. (1997, November 18). Making screen readers work more effectively on the web (1st)

Vanderheiden, G. C.(2007) Redefining Assistive Technology, Accessibility and Disability Based on Recent Technical Advances. Journal of Technology in Human Services Volume 25, Issue 1-2, 2007, pages 147- 158

The beauty of our WWW in 2012 is that a few clicks and a reference can be checked and the latest views of the author considered, yet the module’s design doesn’t instigate or expect this kind of necessary refreshing.

The other one to look at is:

Stephanidis et al. (2011) Twenty five years of training and education in ICT Design for All and Assistive Technology.

The Open University’s Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE).

Fig. 1. The Open University’s Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE).

Expressed as a Wordle. A personal collection of key influencers based on those tagged in this blog. Includes my own reading and indulgences.

On Friday, at midday, My OU student blog reached a significant milestone.

I’ve been at it for 33 months. I’ve blogged the best part of FIVE modules now – most of which required or invited some use of the blog platform (or another). I required little encouragement – I used to keep a diary and have found since 1999 that in their digital form they are an extraordinarily versatile way to gather, consider, share and develop ideas.

The investment in time, on average, an hour a day in addition to – though sometimes instead of coursework over 1000+ days.

(This excludes 8 months I spent on the Masters in Open and Distance Learning in 2001)

To mark this event, and as I need to go through this online diary, this e-journal, this ‘web-log’ (as they were also once momentarily called) ahead of some exciting meetings coming up next week I thought a simple task might be to click through the tags to identify who have been the key influencers in my reading and thinking over the last two and a half years.

Fig.2. Another way of looking at it.

Beetham, Conole and Weller are key MAODE authors from the Open University. John Seely Brown is a vital undercurrent, Engestrom one of several enthusiasms like Vygostky. While Gagne, second hand hardback, needs to be on your desk for frequent reference.

What I thought would take an hour has taken nearly 40 hours.

Clicking on a tag opens a corner of my head, the notes take me back to that day, that week, that assignment or task. It also takes me back to the discussions, resources and papers. And when I find an error the proof-reader in me has to fix. Aptly, as we approach November 5th, and living in Lewes where there are marches and fireworks from late October for a couple of weeks peaking of course all evening on the 5th, my head feels as if someone has accidentally set light to a box of assorted fireworks.

Just as well. Meetings these days are like a viva voce with eager ears and probing questions – they want the content of my mind and whatever else I bring to the subject after thirty years in corporate training and communications.

Fig. 3. Wordle allows you to say how many words you want to include in the mix.

To create weight I had to repeat the names I consider most important twice, three or four times in the list. I also removed first names as Wordle would have scattered these into the mix independently like peppercorns in a pan of vegetable stock.

The Task

    • List all authors who have been part of my learning and thinking over the last couple of years.
  • Include authors that my antennae have picked up that are relevant to my interest in learning, design, the moving image and the english language.
  • Visualise this and draw some conclusions

Fig.4. This even makes three of the key protagonists look like an advertising agency Gagne, Beetham and Conole.

The Outcome

I can never finish. Take this morning. I stumble upon my notes on three case studies on the use of e-portfolios from H807 which I covered from February 2010-September 2010. To begin with I feel compelled to correct the referencing in order to understand the value, pertinence and good manners (let alone the legal duty) to cite things correctly. (Even though this post was locked – a ‘private’ dump of grabs and my thoughts).

Then I add an image or two.

These days I feel a post requires a visual experssion of its contents to open and benefits from whatever other diagrams, charts or images you can conjure from your mind or a Google Search – ‘the word’ + images creative commons – is how I play it.

Fig. 5. From David Oglivy’s book ‘Ogilvy on advertising‘ – a simple suggestion – a striking image, a pertinent headline and always caption the picture. Then write your body copy.

A background in advertising has something to do with this and the influence of David Ogilvy.

I spend over two hours on the first of three case studies in just one single post. At the time I rubbished e-portfolios. The notes and references are there. Tapped back in I can now make something of it. A second time round the terms, the ideas – even some of the authors are familiar. It makes for an easier and relevant read. What is more, it is current and pertinent. A blog can be a portfolio – indeed this is what I’d recommend.

From time to time I will have to emerge from this tramp through the jungle of my MAODE mind.

Not least to work, to sleep, to cook and play.

Fig. 6. In a word

USEFUL LINKS

Wordle

Date duration calculator

REFERENCE

Gagne, R.N. (1965) Conditions of Learning Holt, Rinehart and Winston

Diffusion of Innovations – Picking this up a year ago at the start of the Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) I couldn’t relate to it.

I hadn’t enough experience of ‘e-moderators’, the term Gilly Salmon uses for Tutors (also Associate Lecturers). A year on I appreciate the complexity of the role, and potentially the considerable demand on their time and efforts to help us students sing – it can’t always happen. If we are a choir, then at times we have to learn to practice in small groups in our own time.

‘E-tivities’ is a must read at any time. You may not agree with the five-stage approach to online learning but I’d go this route until you know better from experience; i.e. play a game that has rules and works before you make up your own.

It should be a game. It should be playful.

It can be. It often is. I don’t tinker away at the QWERTY keyboard like this if I didn’t enjoy it; as Andrew Sullivan puts it, this is jazz. These ideas the latest from John Seely Brown. Remember in his lecture to the Open University he described it as ‘Bringing Coals to Newcastle’ (Week 1 or 3, H800).

That is respect for the Open University who remain the leaders worldwide.

As Lord Putnam, the OU Chancellor put it, ‘It’s as if the Open University was waiting for the Internet’. From TV and Radio, with books, videos and CDs sent out computer-based and now e-learning was and is pioneered right here.

More of this then.

And I’ve made a start on this, the seminal John Seely Brown publication:

I do like a good read, something cover to cover (though these days as a e-book, it does make highlighting and note taking massively easier). And we want to share what we think about what these guys say? I put my notes in the OU e-portfolio My Stuff so could/can share pages from there. Just ask.

I can’t be bothered with this:

I read three chapters nd skimmed through the rest.

I was working in a Brighton-based web-agency in 2000. Ten years ago I would have sung from it. A decade on I find it vacuous hype that occasionally gets it right but often does not.

That said, there are books that I dismiss the first time I look, but can be brought back to sing its praises. Another must read, especially for H807 ‘Innovations in E-learning’ is Roger’s ‘Diffusion of Innovations‘.

Visualising the process and products of learning design

Visualising the process and products of learning design

I will be at CAL ’09 next week in Brighton, and am looking forward to it, in particular some of the sessions and papers which include work from the JISC Curriculum design call. For example, the “challenges of the design pattern paradigm” session and other learning design papers/session. In the meantime I thought I’d put up the poster that my colleagues and I have put together, This poster  entitled “Visualising the process and and products of learning design” will be presented at CAL ’09.

It  is a very short synopsis of the visualisation and representation work we’ve been doing here at the OU. A  version of the poster itself is available for download (click on the image to see a low resolution image of the poster, or on one of the  links to see a higher resolution PDF at either A4 or A0 size):

Image showing “Visualising the process and and products of learning design ” poster

Visualising the process and and products of learning design, A0 sze (pdf, 1.9 Mbyte),

Visualising the process and and products of learning design, A4 size (pdf, 1.1 Mbyte).

Also, a draft of the text of the poster (including the abstract and references) is available here.

Can visual representation work at the curriculum level?

Apart from the design patterns and learning design stuff, one of the other things I would like to explore whilst at the conference is if or how visual representations have been used at programme level (or above). As far as I’m aware, most visual representation work has focused on the activity or course level, and describes interactions involving students and teachers.  But what about the curriculum level? I’m keen to talk to anyone working in this area: please do  contact me if you are, or add a comment below, thanks :-)

CAL ’09 poster text

Abstract

Teachers and media developers go through a complex decision making process when designing new learning experiences – working towards an effective pedagogical mix, combining resources, tools, student and tutor support. For an individual media developer or teacher, the process of creating a visual map of a learning activity clarifies their own understanding of the mix. For teams comprised of individuals focused on different aspects, a visual representation supports communication about issues that need to be resolved before the activity is delivered to students.

This paper focuses on the development of CompendiumLD, a particular strand of work within the OU Learning Design Initiative. CompendiumLD is a tool to represent and visualise learning designs; it is an adaptation of Compendium, an existing knowledge mapping tool. CompendiumLD has been developed iteratively, informed by evidence gathered through a series of interviews with academics, and tested through a series of faculty based workshops. Development has proceeded from changes in the set of icons used to represent components of learning activities, through to specific functionality to support the design of learning activities. This functionality includes context specific learning design help and a set of visual design templates.

Findings to date indicate that most users find the tool easy to use, that it makes the process more explicit and provides a useful vehicle for sharing design ideas with others. Some users are interested in its potential to support both the process of learning design and the production of maps for use by students.

Recently introduced  features include (1) the facility to specify times that students and tutors will spend on specific tasks, producing a running total displayed on the user interface and (2) support for transclusions (intended to help designers  identify reuse of  e.g. tasks or learning objectives. Initial evaluations of these new features will be discussed.

1       Introduction

A learning activity can be conceptualised as a specific interaction of learner(s) with zero or more other(s) using specific tools and resources, orientated towards specific outcomes (Beetham, 2007).  Evidence we have gathered indicates that designing learning activities is inherently messy, creative and iterative, and that choosing  the best combination of tools, resources and tasks for a particular context is difficult (Conole et al., 2008). In the Open University and other distance universities, design is typically carried out by teams composed of people with a variety of specialist skills including academics, programmers, graphic designers, editors and project managers.

2       Aims

Our aim is to research, design and implement a range of tools to support individuals to design effective learning activities, and to enhance the effectiveness of design teams.

One approach we have taken is to apply the concept of ‘knowledge cartography’  to learning design, building on previous work in this area including other visual representations of learning designs (e.g. UML activity diagrams, LAMS).  This has led to the development of a software tool CompendiumLD through which we are exploiting two aspects of mapping, the product and the process.

  • As products maps can visually represent complex relationships between objects, which highlight key elements and connections for a particular purpose
  • Creating a map forces a person to externalise their understanding of the situation, and this process clarifies their understanding of the situation

(Okada, Buckingham Shum, & Sherborne, 2008).

Design processes

In our research  to date we have studied how design  is carried out by individuals and teams within the iterative design cycle which occurs before courses are launched.

We will be studying how CompendiumLD can be used by teachers to  deliver teaching activities, and how it can be used to evaluate the design of activities.

Design products

Snapshots from the design process

The learning design nodes are on the left hand side: these can be dragged and dropped onto the working area. Learning design nodes include

Learning activity

Learning outcome

The nodes can be connected by dragging between them.

Double-clicking on a learning activity opens it

A screen grab of CompendiumLD showing the main working area labelled  “Andrew Brasher’s Home Window”.

Context sensitive prompts appear when nodes are added.

3       Evidence

Empirical evidence gathered to inform the development of CompendiumLD  includes the collection of user requirements (Nixon, 2007), case studies (Wilson, 2007), 12 semi-structured in-depth interviews, and evaluation of workshops and focus groups (Cross, 2008). In January 2009 we began in-depth evaluation of holistic course design, which has and will involve studying course teams’ use of visual representations during the design process over a period of 9 months.  Examples from our evidence base are shown as speech bubbles.

4       In use

Examples illustrating how CompendiumLD can be used within the design process are provided by  snapshot 1 and snapshot 2. Snapshot 1 illustrates an early stage of the  the design process, snapshot 2 a later stage when a more detailed description has been generated and some of the issues that arose in snapshot 1 have been resolved.

5       Conclusions and future work

The qualitative data we have gathered so far indicates that generating a visual representation helps to clarify designers’ intentions, and aids communication of those intentions.  Continuation of the iterative improvement of the tools and methods we have developed is planned for 2009-10, including trials across a range of UK universities. So far our work has focused on the representation of learning activities within a course or module. We will be looking at applying visual representations at different levels, e.g. across degree programmes, and requirements gathering workshops to inform this are planned for later in 2009.

References and further information

Full references for the citations in this poster are available from are available from http://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/brasherblog. Information about CompendiumLD is available from http://compendiumld.open.ac.uk.

Beetham, H. (2007). An approach to learning activity design. In H. Beetham & R. Sharpe (Eds.), Rethinking pedagogy for a digital age: designing and delivering  e-learning (pp. 26-40). Oxford: Routledge.

Conole, G., Brasher, A., Cross, S., Weller, M., Clark, P., & White, J. (2008). Visualising learning design to foster and support good practice and creativity. Educational Media International.

Cross, S., Conole, G., Clark, P., Brasher, A., & Weller, M.   . (2008). Mapping a landscape of Learning Design: Identifying key trends in current practice at the Open University. Paper presented at the LAMS Conference.

Nixon, S. (2007). LD project final report – final report of the LD VLE programme work. Milton Keynes: The Open University.

Okada, A., Buckingham Shum, S., & Sherborne, T. (2008). Knowledge Cartography: Software Tools and Mapping Techniques: Springer.

Wilson, P. (2007). Progress report on capturing eLearning case studies (Internal report). Milton Keynes: The Open University.

 

I’ve just read the introduction to H800 : Technology-enhanced learning: practices and debates

I’ve just read the introduction to H800.

Or should this read Technology-enhanced debates, learning and practices?

Fig. 1. OU VLE Screengrab January 2011

I imagine and hope there will be some hot discussions.

This is a module in the Open University Masters in Open and Distance Education.

I found this is a gentle, caring, thoughtful and reassuring ‘laying out of the OU stall.’

No jargon, clearly written in a reassuring and friendly tone.

Even the lay out is more magazine article than academic abstract, I like this. Don’t scare new folks on day one. Or me. And old hand now.

Were we gathered in the real world this is the equivalent of tea and cake with the course team and future student colleagues.

Even though this is now my third module towards the MA in Open & Distance Education I begin with trepidation as pressures on my time mount; professionally I am now incorporating the contents of H807 and H808 into my daily life and activities – evangelising about all things to do with e-learning (and the OU), while developing projects and talking to prospective clients and sponsors, employers and potential employees.

Personal Development Planning wrapped up the H808 ECA

Fig.2. Personal Development Planning (PDP) expressed as a riding skywards on a thermal

This was my take on PDP. This is now, along with reflective blogging and use of MyStuff (the OU e-portfolio) very much part of my weekly routine.

I struggled through H807 on an old iBook, succumbing to printing off far too often. With H808 I acquired a new laptop and barely printed off a thing (the ECA and evidence being the exception). Everything went into MyStuff.

(I tried Pebbelpad for several weeks then gave up. Having paid an annual sub of £20 for this I will give it a more thorough try in H800. I sense a need to have an alternative e-portfolio as the OU abandons or replaces MyStuff).


With H800 I feel the need, professionally, for a Smart Phone.

Returning from Learning Technologies 2011 I came away with one conviction – mobile learning and a number of trends (more video, less text; more chunking, easy create software and platforms; the creative/planning/production process being brought inhouse; shake up in higher education; significant investment/development in learning & development departments/functions … a list I will continue to develop this week as I finish going through my notes. See below for my take on Learning Technologies 2011)

Going mobile doesn’t simply mean learning on the commute, or during a lunch break or riding a chairlift in a ski resort if only), but using the device at a desk, around the house, in corridors. Think of is this way, why do so many of us work from Laptops at a desk, when surely a desktop computer would do a better job. I feel a Smart Phone will simply offer an alternative way to work, as if on a micro-computer … on a bench overlooking the English Channel. Stuck in traffic (as a passenger) .. even while making supper.

We will see.

Perhaps Smart Phone and the next piece of business will go hand in hand.

I’ll no doubt often using sports related analogies, so I’ll treat week one and two as a warm up, rather than a sprint. In previous modules I’ve been like a pace setter at the start of the four minute mile, dashing off quickly only to retire before the end.

My key thought for H800? Pace.

In any case, I’ve got a self-assessment tax form to submit, more job interviews, client meetings too – even seeing a Venture Capital organisation. This and some swim coaching and quite a bit of swim club managing/organising (internal training, submission to a national audit, final assessment for the Senior Club Coach certificate). As well as time with family, children, our dog and the guinea-pigs ‘E’, ‘C’ & ‘A’.

How to study The OU way

On reading, taking notes and managing your feelings i.e how to study

There are notes, nothing more, which makes me wonder why I share them with the world. In this instance I am sharing notes on ‘hot to study.’ (I liked the typo so left it in.’

This 1990 OU’s guide came into my possession by the most circuitous of routes. My father-in-law, a long retired Oxford Don, sent it to his 12 year old grand-daughter on seeing her end of term report 🙁

Problem is, not that she has read the book at all, if it appealed in any way then she might shun what her immediate future offers: GCSEs then A’ Levels which requires a lot of learning, but not a great deal of thinking. (Or does it?)

Here are some notes for Chapter Two ‘Reading and Note Taking’

In relation to 900 words or so we were asked to read as an activity:

This takes, we are advised to:

* Skim read – 9 minutes
* Read – 15 minutes
* Read with care (and taking notes) – 27 minutes.

I read it in 3 mins.

Did I speed read? Did I take anything in?

I managed to make notes afterwards, indeed having been asked to answer some questions even more information came to mind. Perhaps this is how I should do it … perhaps the important stuff is more likely to come to mind if I give it some thought rather than note taking at the same time. I may not have a photographic memory … do I skate over things? Would it help if I slowed it down? I’d have to read more strategically though, to trust the choices made for me.

An OU IDEA ‘Concept Cards’

To jot down concepts and ideas that you DON’T understand so that you can look them up at later, i.e. don’t only makes notes on the things that make sense.

Historically (last decade) I’ve used FileMaker Pro.

Whatever its short coming I am using the OU e-portfolio, expecting to be able to transfer/migrate the 500 pages of contents over to an off-the-shelf e-portfolio or anything new the OU comes up with in due course.

Taking the hint that notes should be taken of ideas of interest, and value, rather than taking notes on everything I picked out this:

Creating interest where there is none – when your enthusiasm for a topic wanes think how others think who have found something if interest.

That’s useful.

Like a child, too often if a topic or activities doesn’t appeal I make excuses and do something else, rather than finding a way to engage.

Questions make reading interesting.

You need to read with a couple of questions in the back of your mind so that you engage with the information.

My questions on the OU 1990 Study Guide?

* What’s changed in 20 years?
* How much is just the same?
* How can I apply this in relation to e-learning in 2010?
* What advice would others find useful that may be second nature to me? (That I take for granted).

I liken my approach to studying to the way I wandered across the South Downs for five hours yesterday.

I hadn’t even been sure if I’d walk a stretch of the South Downs Way from Newhaven when I dropped the car off for a service, but I had walking boots on and waterproofs in a rucksack. I had no map, but have walked half the route out of Newhaven towards Lewes, and half the route out of Lewes South. Having followed the River Ouse to Southease I then followed signs for the South Downs Way which took me way off any direct track to Lewes in a couple of huge loops. The mile along the road from Southease to Rodmell would have saved a three mile deviation up onto the Downs. But did I want to risk either the dog or me being run over?

I have a tendency to follow my nose (like the dog, her nose took her into a fresh cow pat). She rolled in it.

My reading takes me through a series of cascades as I pick first one reference to chase, then another in this article or essay and so on. Its as if, despite being given the road map through a Maize Maze I insist on looking down every avenue myself, so that I can find out for myself.

If I study in exactly the same way as my fellow students, reading strategically, only reading the course references as there isn’t apparently time to do much more … won’t we all come out the same? A goal for my studying is to have my own perspective eventually, not to project the opinions of another.

Elaborately Cautious Language

’In every day life we cheerfully use language as a blunt instrument for cudgelling our way through the cut and thrust of events around us. However, in academic writing language is meant to be used more like a scalpel, cutting precisely between closely related arguments, so that they can be prized apart and analysed in detail.’ Northridge (1990:29)

An academic text is not a narrative – it is an argument.

An academic text aims to be unemotional, detached and logical.

Whilst I can understand applying this to a TMA or ECA, this is surely not the required or desired approach in what is called a Blog? And for writing in a forum, should we reference everything? It doesn’t half interrupt the flow of ideas. If talking over coffee or a glass of wine would we cite references we knowingly made? The lines distinguishing the spoken word to text or TXT or blogging and messaging are blurred if not broken.

Manage Feelings 2.6 Northridge (1990:31)

Find ways of:

* building upon your enthusiasms
* avoiding sinking into despair
* making the topic interesting
* accepting specialist language
* accepting academic text styles
* constructing valid criticisms

My preferred approach to reaching:

* cafe
* walk
* pool
* while travelling (trains, planes, ferries and yachts)

Though surely not

* in bed
* on the kitchen table in the middle of the night
* in the pub
* on holiday

(though this can be exactly what I do/have done)

IDEALLY

* a room of my own

(married life, children and a modest home have left me with a cluttered shed or lock-up garage packed with the contents of our last house – we moved three years ago).

Approaches to Reading

Skim paragraph ahead, then read more slowly using the ‘mile stones’ to guide you.

Skimming – about the text
Reading – follow the argument

%d bloggers like this: