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Using technology for teaching and learning in higher education: a critical review of the role of evidence in informing practice.

For those on H809, H800 and H817 which are all current, as well as anyone else on the MAODE but treading water between modules, the following paper from Linda Price and Adrian Kirkwood will be of interest.

Using technology for teaching and learning in higher education: a critical review of the role of evidence in informing practice. (2013) Price and Kirkwood. From our very own Institute of Educational Technology

What forms of evidence (if any) have influenced teacher’s practices?

As a pragmatist I’ve always wanted to believe that decisions are always made on the best possible evidence; humans aren’t like that though. The e-learning industry was as much a part of the 2001 dot.com bubble as anyone else creating content and putting it online. Clients wanted even if they had no evidence that it worked or not and even once you have pages of content online for a while they wouldn’t listen if you said ‘this is all going to end in tears’ – or rather, questioning their motives, trying to understand where the value would come from. It came in time. Thought FT Knowledge pulled out and another site I was working on, Ragdoll, turned from an information portal to a sales platform for its TV shows … then an online TV Channel.

Now in week 4 of H809 we are preparing the first TMA. My approach has been to read as many papers as possible until a pattern starts to form. I could be reading short stories, or listening to rock ballads – the goal is the same, to see and understand the shape of good research.

This is a mixed-method study that includes:

  • A Literature review – using a framework – 96 papers/reports reviewed
  • A Questionnaire – analysed using content analysis – SurveyMonkey completed by 58
  • Interviews – using inductive thematic analysis – 8 interviews conducted

I had thought these 96 papers would be given as references or in an appendix. I guess only those that are cited appear. I would have liked to see the SurveyMonkey questionnaire too. But would this mean there would be no need for the paper – just release all the research and data and let readers draw their own conclusions?

If that happened I wonder how many diverse views we would get from 10 or even 100 responses. However objective we try to be it surprises me how different reports can be, sometimes to the extent that I wonder if people have been looking at the same event. The human mind is a wonderful and contrary thing.

Re-enactments of traditional activities in different media formats.

In the medical professions research favours positivist experimental methods. From large-scale controlled quantitative experimental studies such as clinical field trials.

Mixed method = a pragmatist paradigm.
Methodological triangulationn = research from more than one perspective

Increasingly, though my interests are diverse, I do find the research done on the use of e-learning in medecine of particular interest. There is a greater clarity and objectivity where you have 1000 medical students put through a randomized controlled trial over several months and the outcomes on their knowledge, or recall of facts, can be tested in a formal examin. There are no ifs or buts about naming organs, muscles groups or bones in the human body. It becomes less certain if you are testing changes in knowledge in say sociology as a result of using student forums or blogs. As Dianna Laurillard says when people push for answers, ‘it depends’. The variables are many and complex.

‘If conclusions from each of the methods are the same, then validity is established’. (Price & Kirkwood, p3. 2013)

This is a pattern that I could see myself applying:

Sequential mixed-method design (Cohen et al., 2011, p. 25)

  1. Literature review – informed who might be suitable for interview
  2. A short practitioner questionnaire
  3. Interviews with practitioners
  4. Analytic coding (Cohen et al., 2011)

My wife does medical market research and has to take or create transcripts, as well as do the interviews sometimes, with medical specialists. Some 35 hour long interviews must then be analsyed using a system, currenly manual, where phrases and terms are categorised and clustered. From this an attempt is made to write a comprehensive and object report. I always thought she was having to write a paper or sometimes the equivalent of a thesis every few months.

Clients of course want the ‘heads up’ or the ‘abstract’ and the report reduced to a series of slides. They must read the report but they far prefer to have it presented to them. By the time you are ready to stand up and talk someone through the findings you ought to feel fairly confident about keeping it succinct.

QQ When contemplating using technology for teaching and learning, what do practitioners considers as evidence of enhancement?

For me this could read, ‘when contemplating using technology for learning and development, what do managers consider as evidence of enhancement?

May answer is = be thorough, show evidence of being thorough, explain and share your thinking and practice.

After three years of the Masters in Open and Distance Education I am delighted to say that as a student I have got my head around all of these

E-learning artefacts that could be studied as such:

  • Blended learning/e-learning/hybrid courses
  • Audio/podcasts
  • Video resources/lectures/games
  • Multimedia tools
  • Virtual laboratories/fieldwork
  • Blogs
  • Collaborative tools/wikis
  • Online discussion boards/conferences/forums
  • E-Portfolios
  • Online courses resources
  • Electronic voting/personal response systems
  • Assistive technologies

I should go back and put these into a table to indicate where across H807, H800, H808, H810 and H809 I have done these. Some expansion could be given to forums. I got my blended learning not through the MAODE which is entirely online, but from B822 Creativity, Innovation and Change. There isn’t much use of video either – though these days through TED lectures and a few OU inaugural lectures you get a taste. For video and interactivity I did parts of a video-based Social Media course. I’m familiar with virtual labs from OU Stories in the press. I first used electronic voting in 1997 during a live, broadcast event at Unipart Group of Companies … and then during a day long workshop on Creative Commons at the Open University. I have seen assistive technologies in the IET Labs, but also on visits to special needs schools and of course, studied assistive technologies as part of H810.

There are Micro, Meso and Macro scales

  • Accounts of innovation
  • Lessons learned
  • Changes in practice

Respondents were more likely to be influenced by direct contact with colleagues and by experience of engaging with relevant work or personal activities. (Price and Kirkwood p. 10. 2013)

  • Institution’s Centre for Academic Development 40%
  • Academic Colleagues 25%
  • Departmental advice for e-learning 12%
  • Inductive thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006)

This is revealing of human nature and human desires. Despite all the technology that might keep us at our desks there is still a desire to seek and take advice from another person. This is so much more apparent in the commercial world where sales people or project managers take clients through what e-learning technology can do, the strengths and weaknesses. Clients are then sold packages, platforms and tools. They want to hear from the experts, they don’t want to read the papers – or to go on a course (though a few do some or all of the MAODE).

Four themes were identified by Price and Kirkwood.

  1. Nature of evidence and its collection
  2. Use of evidence
  3. Generating and sharing own evidence
  4. Changes in practice

Teachers are more concerned about ‘what works’ while researchers are more concerned about ‘why it works’ (Hargreaves, 1997, p.410).

We are all guilty of having our own agendas and perspectives.

Practitioners preferred to consult an academic developer or colleagues for guidance, rather than reading journal articles. (Price and Kirkwood p. 14. 2013)

CONCLUSION

Educator may think they are ‘improving’ learning in that learners retain more, achieve higher grades and get it down smartly and for less cost – they key driver and outcome is for a more flexible offering that that offered previously.

The academic developer’s role appears to be key in mediating evidence for practitioners. (Just as, I would suggest, the commercial developer’s role is key in mediating evidence for learning and development managers in business). i.e. we won’t review the evidence, that’s your job. Sell us something that works, that we can afford.

‘A dissonance has been observed’ by Norton, Richardson, Hartley, Newstead & Mayes (2005)

– subjectivity in categorisation and sampling methods countered by pragmatist paradigm adopted in this mixed-methods approach.  (Price and Kirkwood p. 14. 2013)

REFERENCE

Braun, V.,  & Clark, V. (2006) Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3 (2), 77-101

Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2011) Research methods in education (7th edition). abingdon, Oxon. Routledge.

Hargreaves, D.H (1997) Educational research and evidence-based practice. London. Sage.

Norton, L., Richardson, T.E., Hartley, J.,  Newstead, S.,  & Mayes, J. (2005) Teachers’ beliefs and intentions concerning teaching in higher education. Higher Education, 50 (4), 537-571

Price, L., & Kirkwood, A.T. (2013) (in press). Using technology for teaching and learning in higher education: a critical review of the role of evidence in informing practice. Higher Education Research & Development.

 

Autoenthnography or, how to write something of substance.

Autoenthnography or, how to write something of substance.

From Richardson (2000) via Lilia Efimova (2009. p. 39)

I’ve taken the view, with a lifetime of keeping a diary and 14 years blogging that I write whatever comes to mind as I put pen to paper or fingertips to the keyboard. There is a better way:

Substantive Contribution

Does this piece contribute to our understand of social life? Does the writer demonstrate a deeply grounded (if embedded) human world understanding and perspective?

Aesthetic Merit

Does this piece succeed aesthetically? Does the use of creative analytical practices open up the text, invite interpretive responses? Is the text artistically shaped, satisfying, complex, and not boring?

Reflexivity

How did the author come to write this? How was the information gathered? Ethical issues? How has the author’s subjectivity been both a producer and a product of this text?

Is there an adequate self-awareness and self-exposure for the reader to make judgements about the point of view? Do authors hold themselves accountable to the stands of knowing and telling of the people they have studied?

Impact

Does this affect me? Emotionally? Intellectually? Generate new questions? Move me to write? Move me to try new research practices? Move me to actions?

Lived Experience

Does this text embody a fleshed out sense of lived-experience? Does it seem “true” – a credible account of a cultural, social, or communal sense of the “real”?

REFERENCE

Richardson, L. (2000). Evaluating ethnography. Qualitative Inquiry, 6 (2), 253-255

 

 

 

Reflection on keeping an e-learning blog for 1,000 days

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). It 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.

Modules 

  • H807 – Innovations in e-Learning
  • H808 – Technology Enhanced Learning: Practices and debate
  • H800 – The e-Learning Professional
  • B822 – Creativity, Innovation & Change
  • H810 – Accessibility online learning: supporting disabled students

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. Betham, Conole and Weller are key MOADE 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 these would scattered 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 the key protagonists look like an advertising agency Gagne, BeethamConole and Weller.

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 expression 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

Along the way this behaviour, these actions, me being me, has found me working at the Open University for a year, and then at Lumesse a global corporate e-learning company. In the last month two international organisations have had me in, in the last week four more have been in touch online including interest from Australia, France and North America. Next week a magical triad may occur when I broker a collaboration between two of them with me holding their respective hands to initiate a project. There could be no better validation for the quality, depth, impact and life-changing consequences of seeing this OU degree through.

On verra (we will see)

USEFUL LINKS

Wordle

Date duration calculator

REFERENCE

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

What do you deliver? Guided, Self-Guided or Misguided Learning?

Talking about social media learning

A call from a colleague with a major corporate and we talk social media learning for nearly three hours.

During this time I repeatedly search this blog, using the e-portfolio that it has become, sending charts and grabs from Picasa and from the iPad, creating a mind-map in Bubbl.us and balancing how the MA in Open and Distance Learning compares to the OU MBA he completed last year and the MRes he is doing now.

Just a phone call. We could have gone to Skype, Elluminate or even Google+. The phone freed up the laptop. Several photos picked up from workshops, as well as screen grabs, were emailed from the iPad which was also running.

Social Media Learning Bubbl.us Mind Map

Fig.1. Social Media Learning Mind Map

Timely as I am procrastinating over the ECA which will be on the use of Forums and Mobile devices in e-learning.

A reminder of how a synchronous conversation can achieve so much, especially when there were items set before our eyes to discuss.

We also discussed (I hadn’t the energy to take many notes. In retrospect I wish I’d recorded it):

  • Belbin Team Roles
  • Activity Theory
  • Management Mindsets
  • Silos
  • Web 2.0
  • Learning on the periphery
  • Vicarious Learning
  • Medical Market Research
  • TV Production
  • The role of an Alumni Board
  • Narrative
  • Research
  • Assessment
  • Blogs as ‘electronic paper’

It was invaluable to have the external point of view, someone from a global comany of thousands talking about social media learning. Looking at the devices we now have, such as smartphones and tablets, it was particularly interesting to be reminded of human nature, how devices may be used for things and in ways that they were not designed.

Whilst the iPad permits mobility, we often use it when static: in our favourite chair, recumbant on the sofa, even in bed or in the bath. Is this mobile learning? It’s hardly getting out of the house, drawing down data on the run using augmented technology to enhance the environment your in. And simply having content on an iPad so that you can using the touch screen to open and close the text, enlarging text, flipping the screen size between portrait and landscape all the time – the joy of its tactile nature. Unable to sleep I use the light from the iPad as a torch to sneak away from the marital bed and passed the children’s bedrooms and to find my way downstairs withouth having to put the landing light on.

It also was clear how both devices and approaches to learning cannot be isolated, we got our joint heads around Engestrom’s ‘Activity Systems’. The technology is complementary, the move to personalise everything through device and software choices.

I’d played Devil’s Adocat a couple of times suggesting that ‘nothing had changed’ only to come away agreeing that many of my behaviours were/are different as a direct result of Web 2.0. I have gone from learning in private, hunched over my books never showing it to anyone to a situations where, more like someone tending a public garden, or at least one seen from the street, people can see my thinking. Ironically, it is the end result that often fails to appear because I’m not about to post TMAs and ECAs online.

Some authors I quoted/cited during the conversation:

  • Vygotsky
  • Engestrom
  • Richardson
  • Moon
  • Cox
  • John Seely Brown
  • Jonathan Swift

To which I subsequently add as a result of browsing the blog and so re-engaging with my own experience within the chronology of the module; it is this, after all, that is to be examined, rather than my knowledge from this and the preceding modules. A learning design fault?

  • H807 You diddle about with every instrument in the orchestra and several that have just been invented.
  • H808 You learn to conduct, or at least why a conductor is important (even if you can’t play an instrument or read music).
  • H800 You learn to play an electronic keyboard

I quoted Swift as saying (paraphrasing) ‘I don’t know what I mean until I hear myself speak’. If anyone has any idea how to cite this please do offer your thoughts.

More authors to consider in this context (mobile learning, forums, e-learning, web 2.0):

  • Haythornthwaite
  • O’Reilly
  • Weller
  • Traxler
  • Gregory
  • Mason
  • Sharpe
  • Beetham
  • Belshaw
  • Hinchcliffe
  • Bacon and Dillon
  • Siemens
  • Boyer
  • Wenger
  • Bruner

Other topics that we should have discussed:

  • User Generated Content
  • Collective Intelligence
  • Apprenticeships
  • Problem based learning
  • Participation
  • Demand Pull

BEING DEVELOPED FURTHER HERE

http://socialmedia4education.wordpress.com/2011/09/08/social-learning-for-corporates/

62 matters relating to Social Media Learning

A call from a colleague with a major corporate and we talk social media learning for nearly three hours.

During this time I repeatedly search this blog, using the e-portfolio that it has become, sending charts and grabs from Picasa and from the iPad, creating a mind-map in Bubbl.us and balancing how the MA in Open and Distance Learning compares to the OU MBA he completed last year and the MRes he is doing now.

Just a phone call. We could have gone to Skype, Elluminate or even Google+. The phone freed up the laptop. Several photos picked up from workshops, as well as screen grabs, were emailed from the iPad which was also running. 

INSERT IMAGE

Fig.1. Social Media Learning Mind Map

Timely as I am procrastinating over the ECA which will be on the use of Forums and Mobile devices in e-learning.

A reminder of how a synchronous conversation can achieve so much, especially when there were items set before our eyes to discuss.

We also discussed (I hadn’t the energy to take many notes. In retrospect I wish I’d recorded it):

  • Belbin Team Roles
  • Activity Theory
  • Management Mindsets
  • Silos
  • Web 2.0
  • Learning on the periphery
  • Vicarious Learning
  • Medical Market Research
  • TV Production
  • The role of an Alumni Board
  • Narrative
  • Research
  • Assessment
  • Blogs as ‘electronic paper’

It was invaluable to have the external point of view, someone from a global comany of thousands talking about social media learning. Looking at the devices we now have, such as smartphones and tablets, it was particularly interesting to be reminded of human nature, how devices may be used for things and in ways that they were not designed.

Whilst the iPad permits mobility, we often use it when static: in our favourite chair, recumbant on the sofa, even in bed or in the bath. Is this mobile learning? It’s hardly getting out of the house, drawing down data on the run using augmented technology to enhance the environment your in. And simply having content on an iPad so that you can using the touch screen to open and close the text, enlarging text, flipping the screen size between portrait and landscape all the time – the joy of its tactile nature. Unable to sleep I use the light from the iPad as a torch to sneak away from the marital bed and passed the children’s bedrooms and to find my way downstairs withouth having to put the landing light on.

It also was clear how both devices and approaches to learning cannot be isolated, we got our joint heads around Engestrom’s ‘Activity Systems’. The technology is complementary, the move to personalise everything through device and software choices.

I’d played Devil’s Adocat a couple of times suggesting that ‘nothing had changed’ only to come away agreeing that many of my behaviours were/are different as a direct result of Web 2.0. I have gone from learning in private, hunched over my books never showing it to anyone to a situations where, more like someone tending a public garden, or at least one seen from the street, people can see my thinking. Ironically, it is the end result that often fails to appear because I’m not about to post TMAs and ECAs online.

Some authors I quoted/cited during the conversation:

  • Vygotsky
  • Engestrom
  • Richardson
  • Moon
  • Cox
  • John Seely Brown
  • Jonathan Swift

To which I subsequently add as a result of browsing the blog and so re-engaging with my own experience within the chronology of the module; it is this, after all, that is to be examined, rather than my knowledge from this and the preceding modules. A learning design fault?

  • H807 You diddle about with every instrument in the orchestra and several that have just been invented.
  • H808 You learn to conduct, or at least why a conductor is important (even if you can’t play an instrument or read music).
  • H800 You learn to play an electronic keyboard

I quoted Swift as saying (paraphrasing) ‘I don’t know what I mean until I hear myself speak’. If anyone has any idea how to cite this please do offer your thoughts.

More authors to consider in this context (mobile learning, forums, e-learning, web 2.0):

  • Haythornthwaite
  • O’Reilly
  • Weller
  • Traxler
  • Gregory
  • Mason
  • Sharpe
  • Beetham
  • Belshaw
  • Hinchcliffe
  • Bacon and Dillon
  • Siemens
  • Boyer
  • Wenger
  • Bruner

Other topics that we should have discussed:

  • User Generated Content
  • Collective Intelligence
  • Apprenticeships
  • Problem based learning
  • Participation
  • Demand Pull

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).

For web 2.0 e-learning the mantra should be ‘play, play, play’ – to adapt the Movie making adage ‘the script, the script, the script’.

Richardson (2005), ‘Students’ approaches to learning and teachers’ approaches to teaching in higher education’.

This short, clear, bulleted article is the most straightforward and possibly most valuable text I’ve come across in the 14 months of the Masters in Open and Distance Education that I have thus far done.

No doubt its clarity is in part a product of my improved understanding and more extensive experience gained during this period; it slots into place.

Learning a foreign language (French) I described fluency being akin to a fog lifting; it became clearer and intuitive. I wonder if I am approaching that point with online learning? Not that certainty is possible,

I’ll return to Richardson often.

The assignment at the end of May draws on learning methods (theory) based on learning practice in Block 2. This is a valuable opportunity to return to theories on learning activities (Engestrom) which I interpreted as a complex game of chess, setting it up with Lewis Chess pieces on a large piece of MDF. It’ll also mark a return to ideas of metaphor in learning (Sfard).

Within the Masters in Open and Distance Education there are tailored loops and returns to core content; just as well, otherwise I’d sign up to revisit modules I’ve enjoyed so much and from which I want to get so much more. 14 months on I am not the postgraduate of February 2010 whose learning methods were 1970s/1980s A’level and undergraduate surface learning rather than deep learning.

Passionate about the 2011 publication ‘A new culture of learning’ from John Seely Brown and Douglas Thomas so much so that I’m exploring new ways to engage with content in an e-reader. Clicking through the pages in reverse (as I read the Sunday papers) is one. By selecting a larger font the information is presented in bite-size chunks, almost like a set or cards. The other trick is to take a key word and step through each time this is covered – play, a key part of the thesis, occurs over 160 times. For e-learning design the mantra is ‘activities, activities, activities’, for web2 2.0 it ought to read ‘play, play, play’.


Unwell and Kindling

When your 14 year old daughter is in bed with flu, and running a temperature, you relent when she pops her head up from under the duvet and wants to use your laptop to watch a movie and get in touch with friends.

I think, because I use a keyboard extension that the chances that I will pick up her germs are reduced; I forget that we both use the same mouse. She blows her nose, uses the mouse, goes to sleep for three hours. I pick up the laptop, go online, do stuff like making a sandwich …

That’s four out of four now down with the bug, only the dog and the guinea-pigs seem fine (so far).

It doesn’t take long before I wind down

An odd sensation, like your battery has gone flat.

If only it were as simply as plugging yourself into the wall or changing a battery 🙁

I am just grisly and very tired

I had a flu jab in October so I should be avoiding the worst of it.

Sit back from this screen … you just can’t tell how infectious these things can be !

If it is one bonus it is the Kindle

It can be read in bed, your head on a pillow, operated with one finger, one thumb … and as my brain is mush I can make the text huge and read three words across like a TV autocue. When I fall asleep, so does it. When I wake up it is picks up where I left off. In fact, it will read the book to me … however, will it tell when I am asleep? That would be clever.

I’ve gone from one book to several

Between them Amazon and Kindle have their fingers in my wallet.

I’m 46% the way through the Rhona Sharpe book. Here’s a new concept … no pages.

In addition I have samples of six other books, two blogs and a magazine on a 14 day free trial (I will cancel these 7 days in or earlier to be sure I don’t continue with anything I don’t want)

And new books, and old books.

In the 1990s I bought CDs to get back or replace LPs of my youth. Over the last five years I’ve got rid of most of these and run with iTunes.

Books, due to lack of storage space, are in really useful Really Useful boxes in a lock up garage we rented to help with a house move … three years ago. Is there any point of a book in a box? I have over the decades taken a car load of books Haye on Wye and sold them in bulk. A shame. I miss my collection of Anais Nin and Henry Miller; I miss also my collection on movie directors and screenwriters. Was I saying that this part of my life had ended? Or I needed the space (or money). I fear, courtesy of my Kindle and lists of books I have made since I was 13 that I could easily repopulate my mind with the content of these books. Indeed there is no better place to have them, at my finger tips on a device a tasty as a piece of hot toast covered in butter and blueberry jam.

Page Views

I do nothing and the page views I receive doubles to 500. What does this mean? I am saying too much? That the optimum blog is one per day? Or have folks found they can drill through here for H807 and H808? Who knows, I don’t the stats provided by the OU are somewhat limited. I’d like the works. Which pages do people enter on, which are most viewed, where do they exit, what’s the average pages viewed by an individual and so on. In my experience 500 page views means three people reading 100/150 each with a few others dipping in and out.

How Kindle has changed me in 24 hours

My bedtime reading for anyone following this is ‘The Isles’ Norman Davies.

I read this in the 1990s when it came out. I felt it deserved a second reading. It is heavier then the Yellow Pages and almost as big. Because of its bulk I may have it open on a pillow as I read; no wonder I fall asleep. (Works for me). Having downloaded it to the Kindle last night in 60 seconds and for less than £9 I may now read more than a couple of pages at a time. I can also annotate and highlight the Kindle version. I have an aversion to doing this to the physical thing … I am used to selling on my old books. Not something I can do with a Kindle version. Which makes me think, should these digital versions not be far, far, far cheaper? Take ‘The Isles.’ The dust cover is in perfect nick, I took it off and boxed it rather than get it torn. The damp in the lock-up garage hasn’t caused too much harm. I could get £8 for it, maybe £5.

What else?

More on E-learning:

  • Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age. (Rhona Sharpe)
  • Creating with WordPress (blog)
  • Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. (2010) Will Richardson
  • E-Learning by Design (William Horton)
  • How to change the world (blog)
  • SEO Book (Blog)
  • Digitial Strategies for Powerful Corporate Communications (2009) Paul Argenti and Courtney Barnes
  • The Online Learning Idea Book (Patti Shank)
  • Using Moodle (Jason Cole and Helen Foster)

Some bought, some simply samples. The blogs on a 14-day free trial. Neither worth £0.99 a month.

Best on Kindle

The big surprise, the book that is so beautifully transmogrified by Kindle, lifted by it, is ‘The Swimming Drills Book’ (2006) Ruben Guzman.

No! This isn’t what happens if your swimmer gets it wrong. This is a drill called ‘dead swimmer’ in which they float head down, then slowly extended into a streamlined position, kick away and then swim full stroke.

‘The Swim Drill Book’ is a mixture of text, almost in bullet point form, and line drawings of swimmers in various stages of effort to perform a stroke or drill or exercise.

If an author needs advice on how to write for a Kindle, or for a tablet, I’d point them at this book. This is NOT how it was conceived, but it is how it works on this alternative platform.

You can try it for free

Download Kindle for PC or Kindle for Mac then find ‘The Swimming Drills Book.’ You can then view a sample which takes you beyond the acknowledgements, contents and introduction into the first chapter.

A thing of beauty

By tweaking the layout, text size and orientation, you can place the diagram/drawing full screen. It simply works, just as the stunning black and white engravings and photographs that your Kindle will feature (at random) when ‘sleeping.’

Here’s an thought: if you’re not reading a book it is gathering dust, a dead thing, whereas with a Kindle your books are simply asleep.

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