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