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Fig.1. I like spirals. Thirty years ago this was just a photo. For me it is an expression of what learning looks like. (I think this is St.John’s College, Boat House – or is it Balliol?)
At the base are the undergraduates, the first years, as you climb the steps you find the second and third years, then the middle common room the MA and D.Phil students while at the top are the lecturers, senior lecturers and professors.
And when you die they raise a flag.
In 1983 (or was in 1982?) this was the epitome of ‘closed learning’ – the Oxford College boat house.
Not so much ‘dreaming spires’ as ‘dreaming spirals’.
- It was a privilege, but like many of these I’ve been either in denial or trying to shake them off for the best part of 25 years.
- ‘Je suis comme je suis, je suis faite comme ca’ (Jacques Prevert)
- And there’s no going back.
I was up at 4.03am. Back to bed at 6.15am. Then up again 20 minutes ago.
- My body was tired, my head continued to buzz.
Regarding ‘Open Learn’ what’s all this fretting about process for?
Have we all forgotten the purpose of research????
Not ‘how?’ but ‘why?’
Why? Why? Why?
We are seeking answers, not trying to construct a bridge across the English Channel with chopsticks and bendy-straws.
Not to get the process right, but to get answers to problems, to find better ways, to understand and share what is going on so that we can act, or not act on it?
Sometimes I read an academic paper and it is all about the process.
Too often I write an assignment and it has to be written to be marked – not to generate ideas. In fact, my finest few hours, a total End of Module Assignment rewrite was a disaster for a set of marks but is my theory and philosophy of what learning is. It was the culmination of months of work, years even. Expressed somewhere like the School of Communication Arts I would have had the attention of eyes and ears.
Fig.2. Submitted as the hypothesis for an End of Module Assignment the grade was catastrophic – it is of the module, but the examiners didn’t have a grid filled with the appropriate crumbs that would permit them to ‘tick the boxes’. (I did submit more than the image, 6ft high and drawn on a sheet of backing wallpaper).
Creativity doesn’t fair well in a process driven system, either in research or in marking assignments.
This isn’t an excuse regarding a grade or the need and value of process drive, guideline controlled, parameter set research, but rather a cry for some ‘free thinking’ the ‘parcours’ of mental agility and expression.
Fig.3 The cliffs below Roche de Mio, La Plagne
There is value in going off piste.
It isn’t even the democratisation of education and knowledge either, it is the Tim Berners-Lee rather than the Google approach to knowledge – i.e. give it away for free.
It is ‘communismization’ – which is a word, however horrible it sounds, I just looked it up.
This moves me onto dwelling on Creative Commons.
If the idea of openness is to give it away for free what is the reward for the author? Recognition as the author. However, I get the feeling that unless it is published some readers think they can help themselves to the ideas and words of others and claim them as their own.
There will always be theft, but as children aren’t we told that for someone to copy your ideas is a compliment?
We need to behave like the children we still are.
But does even that matter in an open society – theft of intellectual property I mean?
If the spreading of the word is all important should any of us give a fig?
If we have a roof over our heads, food and water, electricity to charge the iPad, the BBC … a health service like the NHS what more can we want?
- Better schools.
- Better roads.
- Better weather.
‘Peace on earth and good will to humankind’.
A better word needs to be found for what is meant by ‘communismization’.
Is is just ‘communization’?
- Is it simply ‘open’?!
- ‘Open’ might do.
As the air we breathe …
P.S. I worked the season in Val d’Isere in my gap year and returned a decade later and stayed in La Plagne from December to May researching a book and a couple of documentaries for Oxford Scientific Films. None saw the light of day, though after several weeks thinking about it I came down that cliff face. I made a big mistake by slowing down at the edge and nearly didn’t have enough distance to clear the rocks. I no longer have a death wish. And it wasn’t even fun. It focused the mind though. In fact, the best way to stop yourself thinking about other stuff is to take such risks. Racing Fireballs in the English Channel has its appeal – I have a tendency to end up in the spinnaker or under the hull though.
- Web Inventor Tim Berners Lee Shares £1m Prize (news.sky.com)
- Fostering Creativity – The Use of Open Educational Resources (classroom-aid.com)
- Tim Berners-Lee: The Web needs to stay open, and Gopher’s still not cool. (boingboing.net)
- Tim Berners-Lee: ‘You can do anything with a computer that you can imagine’ (venturebeat.com)
- Inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee says web neutrality crucial (radionz.co.nz)
- What I wish Tim Berners-Lee understood about DRM (guardian.co.uk)
Learning design, indeed any design, is about problem solving. If there isn’t a problem there is nothing to do.
No need to create learning, to advertise, to change, to brainstorm … recognise the problem then resolve to fix it. If this requires problem solving techniques just to get the scope of the problem, or objective set down, so be it. Then set about solving the problem, not shoehorning a response whether it is e-learning, video, a job description … but looking for the best, most appropriate or right way forward.
E-learning is no panacea.
There are still leaflets, workshops, conferences … Then research, write and agree a creative brief.
Then cost, schedule and build your team.
Then get on with it.
You might end up with the equivalent of a chair, a house or a small town … but it is fundamentally problem solving.
- Conole deakin seminar (slideshare.net)
When someone says something that you find profound it sticks with you for life; I was reminded of an invaluable lesson while studying the ‘Creativity, Innovation & Change‘ elective module of The OU MBA (while actually taking the MA in Open & Distance Education).
At a IPA event at the CBI I attended a lecture given by Winston Fletcher in which he talked about how ideas can be killed off by ‘forces’ in and advertising agency and at the client end. He illustrated this with a poster showing a series of light bulbs slowly going out. There was a refrain also that ended:
‘If the client proves refactory, show a picture of their factory.
And should they put on airs and graces, show a picture of their faces’.
Which sums up regional advertisers showing the proud owner of a widget factory standing outside his widget factory, rather than showing off the benefits of the product.
Once a ‘good idea’ has been hatched, by whatever process, intuitively or through considerable thought and development, the thing can gradually die a death as various departments and stakeholders get their hands on it.
It therefore requires a champion, someone to see it through, who is persuasive and persistent, who can shift from playfulness to power games.
That or you need someone to do it for you; writers have agents, creatives in advertising have the accounts team.
The lack of control over where your head goes and what it reveals should understandably go with a note of considerable caution. There often is no such thing as an innocent dream. It sometimes throws me when what is apparent in the dream: its people, actions and events can once analysed tell you something you can’t accept or dislike about yourself or others.
Context is everything.
- What bothers you as you fall asleep?
- What’s on your mind?
A film you have just watched could very well fill your head; I’m still enjoying the afterglow of ‘500 days of summer’: troubled because its truth but delighted in the outcome.
It is less the dream diary, but a diary that can help you put your subconscious to work.
Should you write-up your troubled day, and should you care not only to bring work home with you but also take it to bed, then indeed, the issue that is strangling your budget, or losing you business friends could be resolved in a dream. Once you have that dream in the conscious arena you can even rework it like a TV producer changing the protagonists and outcomes.
I dreamt I was in a court of sorts (I can see it in my mind’s eye but will neither describe it or attempt to draw it unless some detail needs bringing out).
I presume I was a prosecuting solicitor.
Two trials cut together one after the other (have dreams always been film literate?). The second case is a rape; he is ‘cock sure’ thankfully there is no murder involved. He deserves to receive the severest punishment. The previous case with a different barrister had gone off like a damp squib; perhaps it wasn’t as serious a case but I felt the person had got off lightly and I blamed the barrister for not following my instructions suitably closely. In this second trial I have a word-perfect summing up which I might expect this new barrister to follow. On the contrary, I find this person launch in more like a hack journalist/columnist than a prosecuting lawyer. I worry that the defendant will get off lightly; however, it soon dawns on me that this person is using my argument but not the script and like a stand-up comic (though with professionalism and the hint of a smile of confidence) they will deliver a knock-out blow: they have taken what I can provide and made it better.
Does this solve my problem?
It doesn’t answer something specific. If the photocopier is broken and never gets fixed I don’t think I’d turn to my ‘dream spirits’ for the answer.
Does it even suggest to you that this approach has legs?
Me, I’m the defence solicitor, not the barrister. I may not solve the ‘problem’ the defendant, though I make my contribution.
Nor have I had to resort to a set of 27 questions to reach this point (see below).
I do not imagine sitting with a bunch of colleagues interpreting their dreams would be appropriate or suitable; they ate too random, and so are we. But I do recommend this approach for personal problem resolution, but be warned, you may try to get your dreams to set out your next career move only to discover that in your heart you hate your job and sector and wish instead to teach English to Japanese school-girls.
‘The way in which a problem (and our attempts to manage it) is perceived and described will inevitably constrain our thinking and action with respect to it.’ (Henry et al. 2010:47)
N.B. Preferred personal style, experience, the culture you work in and the type of situation you are facing.
Activity 4.1. Free Association ideas. Gordon (1961)
Fig. 4.1. The Buffalo Creative problem-solving method
Synectics. Vincent Nolan (1989) The Innovator’s Handbook.
Open up a problem, don’t define it.
N.B. How well you chose to overcome the challenges it raises.
REF: Friend and Hickling.
‘Simply using an electronic medium does not remove non-rational factors, nor the need for skilful communication or facilitation’. (2010:57)
‘If a technique is a separate dish, and a method is a menu for a complete meal, then a ‘framework’ is the broad concept behind a given menu – the difference between creating a menu for a ‘fast-food snack’ a ‘family celebration’, or a ‘slimmer’s lunch’, a ‘romantic dinner’, or whatever’. (2010:59)
Problem solving as:
Binary Judgements for actions. Nolan (1989)
Friend, J and Hickling, A (1997) Planning under Pressure (2nd edn)( Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.
Gordon, W.J.J. (1961) Synectics. New York, Harper & Row
Isaksen, S.G. and Treffinger, D.J. (1985) Creative Problem Solving: The Basic COurse, Buffalo: Bearly LTD.
Nolan, V (1989) The Innovators’ Handbook