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H809 is like a very large Gouda

If H809 is a very large Gouda Cheese – the size of a climbing frame, then I have consumed, wholesale everything from week 1 to 6.

We are now in week 9.

Ever since the TMA at the end of week 6 I have been back in this Cheesy Climbing frame – what remains of it – with another 11 weeks to go.

Far from meticulously deconstructing externally week by week, activity by activity and constructing internally in an equally measured way, I find I am juggling, cartoon mouse-like, three pieces of cheese:

  • Week 7 – 7 Activities: done 3/7
  • Week 8 – 7 Activities: done 4/7
  • Week 9 – 5 Activities: done 0/5

Glad I did that.

Bang goes H817open which will have to postpone. Forget the ABC Gestion de Project. And only the impulsive would sign up for a MOOC on the Human/Computer interface.

All must now wait.

I’d be on top of this had I not put a couple of weeks into H817open.

(though OER is highly relevant to H809 too)

I’ve got six days to get on top of all of this, write the TMA then go on holiday for ten days.

I’ll put the above into a table and tick each off.

I reckon, at a glance, that this around 28 hours = jeepers.

And writing the TMA will require = X?!

Crack on, crack on …

The TMA can ‘progress’ in the background while I get through the above.

 

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Learning & Memory – my 1,500th post to this blog

Fig. 1. Looks a like a good read

I’m starting to read papers on neuroscience that result on my starting to use my hands and fingers as I read, even reading and re-reading phrases and sentences out loud as I try to ‘get my head around it’. (A search in the Open Universal Online library for ‘hippocampus rats memory’ brought me to the above.

This is the kind of thing from the abstract:

 The nucleus accumbens shell (NAC) receives axons containing dopamine-b-hydroxylase that originate from brainstem neurons in the nucleus of the solitary tract (NTS). Recent findings show that memory enhancement produced by stimulating NTS neurons after learning may involve interactions with the NAC. However, it is unclear whether these mnemonic effects are mediated by norepinephrine (NE) release from NTS terminals onto NAC neurons. (From Kerfoot & Williams (2011:405)

On the other hand, when I read this I think I’ve taken it too far. Like the skier who watches with admiration as someone comes down a gully but would never do it themselves. 

 The A2 neurons are activated during times of heightened arousal by the release of glutamate from vagal nerve fibers that ascend from the periphery to the brainstem (Allchin et al. 1994; King and Williams 2009). Highly arousing events increase epinephrine secretion from the adrenals and facilitate binding to b-adrenergic receptors along the vagus nerve (Lawrence et al. 1995) that in turn, increase impulse flow to brainstem neurons in the NTS (Lawrence et al. 1995; Miyashita and Williams 2006). Epinephrine administration, stimulation of the vagus nerve or direct infusion of glutamate onto A2 NTS neurons are all known to significantly potentiate norepinephrine release within the amygdala and hippocampus (Segal et al. 1991; Liang et al. 1995; Williams et al. 1998; Izumi and Zorumski 1999; Hassert et al. 2004; Miyashita and Williams 2004; Roosevelt et al. 2006). (From Kerfoot & Williams (2011:405).

Fig. 2. Neuroscience for Dummies (Frank Amthor 2012) L5704

This is the bold step I’ve taken, not having to reading papers on neuroscience but feeling the need to do so. I’ve had three years of considering the theory behind learning, now I want to see (where it can be seen) what is happening. Papers rarely illustrate. What I want are papers with photos, charts, and video clips, with animations and multi-choice questions, then a bunch of contactable folk at the bottom to have a conversation with.

Figure 2 will have to do for now, though having got through ‘Neuroscience for Dummies’ I’m ready for the sequel ‘Neuroscience for the Dolterati’.

To understand how the nervous systems works, according to Professor Frank Amthor I need to know how neurons work, how they talk to other neural circuits and how these circuits form a particular set of functional modules in the brain. Figure 2 starts to do this.  (Amthor, 2012. Kindle Location 323)

What is going on here?

If I understand it correctly there is, because of the complexity of connections between neurons, a relationship with many parts of the brain simultaneously, some common to us all, some, among the millions of links, unique to us. Each neuron is connected to 10,000 others.  To form a memory some 15 parts of the brain are involved.

Learning is situated, much of it we are not aware of.

There is a multi-sensory context. Come to think of it, while I was concentrating I got cramp in my bum and right thigh perched as I am on a hard kitchen chair, and the lingering after taste of the cup of coffee I drank 45 minutes ago. I can hear the kitchen clock ticking – though most of the time it is silent (to my mind), and the dog just sighed.

Does it matter that my fingers are tapping away at a keyboard?

Though second-nature touch-typing it occupies my arms and hands and fingers which could otherwise be animated as if I were I talking. Would this in some way help capture the thought? I am talking, in my head. The stream of consciousness is almost audible. It was a couple of sentences with a few new acronyms involving an image I have in my head on what neurons, synapses and axons looks like.

What would happen where I to use a voice recorder and speak my thoughts instead?

By engaging my limbs and voice would my thinking process improve and would the creation of something to remember be all the stronger.

I’m getting pins and needles/cramp in my right leg. Aaaaaaaaaaagh! Party over.

The question posed is often ‘what’s going on in there?’ referring to the brain. Should the question simply be ‘what’s going on?’

Learning & Memory

My eyesight is shifting. In the space of six months of moved to reading glasses. Now my normal glasses are no good either for reading or distance. Contacts are no use either. As a consequence I’m getting new glasses for middle distance and driving. The solution with the contact lenses is more intriguing.

To correct for astigmatism and near or short sightedness I am going to have a one lens in one eye to deal with the astigmatism and a different lens to deal with the short sightedness in the other. My mind will take the information from both and … eventually, create something that is sharp close up and at a distance. This has me thinking about what it is that we see, NOT a movie or video playing out on our retina, but rather an assemblage of meaning and associations formed in the brain.

I will try these lenses and hang around, wander the shops, then return. I am advised that I may feel and appear drunk. I can understand why. I could well describe being drunk as trying to navigate down a path with a microscope in one hand and a telescope in the other while looking through both. I feel nauseous just thinking about it.

So ‘stuff’ is going on in the brain.

These days the activity resulting in the brain figuring something out can, in some instance and to some degree, be seen. Might I have an fMRI scan before the appointment with the optician? Might I then have a series of further scans to follow this ‘re-wiring’ process.

I need to be careful here, the wrong metaphor, however much it helps with understanding may also lead to misunderstanding. Our brain is organic, there are electro-chemical processes going on, but if I am correct there is no ‘re-wiring’ as such, the connections have largely existed since birth and are simply activated and reinforced?

Fig.3 . Synaptic transmission

Any neuroscientists out there willing to engage with a lay person?

What would observing this process of unconscious learning tells us about the process of learning? And is it that unconscious if am I am aware of the sensations that have to be overcome to set me right?

REFERENCE

Kerfoot, E, & Williams, C n.d.(2011), ‘Interactions between brainstem noradrenergic neurons and the nucleus accumbens shell in modulating memory for emotionally arousing events’, Learning & Memory, 18, 6, pp. 405-413, Science Citation Index, EBSCOhost, viewed 7 March 2013.

Amfor, F (2012) Neuroscience for Dummies. Cheat Sheet. (for the time challenged)

 

How do you split your time online? Visual expression of my ‘personal learning environment’ PLE

Fig. 1. The latest expression of how I learn on line. February 2013

This has gone through various forms and ought to included learning across all platforms – I get books from Amazon where the eBook doesn’t exist, I use sheets of A1 paper on a drawing board to sketch out ideas and plans, I use the iPad as a digital camera and use a digital SLR too.

Fig. 2. How it was

The difference? Even more reading and writing.

Fig. 3. Earlier still. A year ago?

A more realistic expression of my learning environment or context i.e. taking on board multiple influences

Fig. 4. A difference expression of the same thing – centred on e-learning

Inspiration

 

Fig.1. Inspiration courtesy of a pad of cartridge paper, the Royal Academy of Arts, designers in residence at the Design Museum, Mirrielees on Story Writing and Robert Gagne‘s ‘The Conditions of Learning’. There’s a guitar by the desk and a set of 6B pencils and a putty rubber out of vision.

For moments when the Muse calls … and when she doesn’t.

The cartridge paper and guitar would be on my Desert Island.

 

Enhanced learning as a mind-map, mind dump, composting exercise from where ideas brew


Fig.1. Ownership of learning, Web 2.0 and the Open University Masters in Open and Distance Education – Module H800. Technology Enhanced Learning: practices and debates.

My Mindmap gone mental. But it is my mind. And my mess!

The important thing is to get it off your head and out of your fingertips – one way or a multitude of other ways: doodle, talk about, blog it, message it, make a poster, collect links on it, or images on it … read books and papers on it and aggregate these. But do something that gets it out from between your ears. A coffee will do. Dinner is best.

This is like building a compost heap, you chuck everything in.

Like composting you should then give the stuff time to decompose, then extract the goodness you want – an essay plan or bullet pointed treatment at most, ordered and ranked. Otherwise the undigested mess continues.

The Contents of My Brain (TCMB)

Fig.1. Glass Skull by Rudat

The current generation will be able to begin to achieve a fraction of this if they please; all I have to go on are diaries I stared in March 1975 and efforts since then to recall all the events, feelings and dreams of my life to that point.

This alongside photoalbums, scrapbooks and sketch books, with lists of books read and films seen, maps of places visited and a complete extended family tree ought to offer a perspective of who or what I am.

Does any of it impact on how I think and behave?

Without my mind is it not simply a repository of typical memories and learning experiences of a boy growing up in the North East of England?

Blogging since 1999 there are like minds out there, though none have come back with an approximation of the same experiences (its been an odd, if not in some people’s eyes, bizarre, even extraordinary roller-coaster of a ride).

It’s value? To me, or others?

I could analyse it ’til the day I die. My goal is no longer to understand me, but to understand human kind. And to better understand the value of exercises such as this, not simply hoarding everything, but of consciously chosing to keep or record certain things.

For now I will exploit the tools that are offered. In theory anything already digitised on computers going back to the 1980s could now be put online and potentially shared. Can I extract material from a Floppy-disc, from an Amstrad Disc, from a zip-drive? Should I add super8mm cine-flim already digistised on betacam masters? And the books Iv’e read, beyond listing them do I add links even re-read some of them? And a handful of school exercise books (geography and maths) A’Level folders on Modern History. I kept nothing from three years of university, yet this is where the learning experience ought to have been the most intense. But I had no plans to take that forward had I?

My university learning was spent on the stage or behind a video camera.

Should I undertake such an exercise without a purpose in mind?

Do I draw on it to write fiction?

There is a TV screenplay ‘The Contents of My Mind’ that could be stripped down and re-written, even shared.

And all the fiction, the millions of words.

Will this have a life if put online?

Is it not the storyteller’s sole desire to be heard? To have an attentive audience?

David Pelzer on life lessons

 

 

 

 

David Pelzer.

David Pelzer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Life Lessons

 

Dave Pelzer

 

This post first appeared in Diaryland on 18/02/2003

 

I like this book for its simplicity; it is also very short. Five or six ideas are enough to keep in your head at any one time; I’m going to pick through the following, chant them, put them in a prayer, remind myself each day what I want to achieve.

 

1. Be resilient

 

2. Learn to fly

 

3. No one is perfect

 

4. Let go of your past

 

a. ‘You cannot move forward until you free yourself from the shackles of your past.’

 

5. Deal with everyday problems

 

a. ‘Settle your problems as promptly and as thoroughly as you are able.’

 

6. Rest your mind.

 

a. Get a good night’s sleep.

 

i. I go to bed early.

 

7. Let go, let rip daily.

 

a. I go down to the sea.

 

8. Purge your soul

 

a. I do so in a diary, often in Diaryland.

 

9. If you have been subjected to negative surroundings, use them to make you strive for something better.

 

a. I don’t want to be an absent father, not away all week or for weeks at a time, nor a divorcee.

 

10. Limit your response to negative settings and, if necessary, make a clean break.

 

a. I got out of TVL, I got out of Worth Media (or did they push).

 

11. Overcome your guilt. Make amends and move on.

 

12. Don’t give yourself away in the vain hope of appeasing others.

 

13. To help yourself, be yourself.

 

14. Never go to bed upset.

 

15. Resolve mattes before they envelop you. Compromise.

 

16. Hate no one. It is like a cancer.

 

17. Forgiveness cleanses.

 

18. When life’s not fair.

 

a. ‘Before you quit on yourself when life isn’t fair, exhaust all your options for making things happen.’

 

19. How badly do I want it?

 

a. Resolve to make things happen to you.

 

20. What have I accomplished?

 

a. Ask yourself what can you not accomplish when you truly commit to that one thing?

 

21. Know what you want and determine to make it happen.

 

22. What is truly important to me? (us)

 

23. Attempt the so-called ‘impossible’ until it becomes an everyday part of your life.

 

24. Don’t give your best away.

 

a. ‘We allow self-doubt, time, situations or whatever else to erode our dreams. We quit on ourselves. We carry regret, regret turns into frustration, frustration into anger, anger into sorrow. We’ve lost one of life’s most precious gifts: the excitement, the fear, the heart-pounding sensation of taking a step outside our protective womb.’

 

25. Go the distance.

 

a. ‘Part of the thrill of success is the journey of the struggle. If it were easy everyone would be doing it.’

 

26. Be happy.

 

a. The older we get, the more complacent, hopeless and despondent we become.

 

27. A consistent, positive attitude makes a world of difference.

 

28. There may not be a tomorrow to count on, so live the best life that you can today.

 

29. Start saying positive, rather than negative things about myself (and everyone around me).

 

30. Focus. If you have no goal or the self-belief that you can accomplish them, you will end up going nowhere.

 

a. A little bit of adversity can help to realign you, make you humble and make you want it more.

 

b. Being asked why I turn to write whenever I’m up against it is highlighting my hearts desire I’m not entering a cave.

 

31. Deflect negativity.

 

a. Flush it away and replace it with something positive (from a positive environment).

 

32. I wallow in my own abyss of doom and gloom.

 

33. Every day see the brighter side of things.

 

With a six and four year old sick at home I do little else but supervise their activities, ensure that they are warm, safe, fed and entertained. I snatch at J G Ballard’s novel, ‘Super Cannes’ from which I exhumed the following quotes. I’ll chew over them another time, when I feel better and I don’t have a four year old having a tantrum. 

‘Relaxing on the coast highway, I changed down to third gear. For the next thirty minutes I drove like Frenchman, overtaking on the inside lanes, straddling the central market lines on the most dangerous bends, tailgating any woman driver doing less than seventy, my headlamps flashing, slipping the clutch at traffic lights as the exhaust roared through the muffler and the engines wound itself to a screaming 7000 rev, swerving across the double yellows and forcing any oncoming drivers to skid their wheels in the refuse-filled verges.’ J G Ballard. It sounds like my brother driving on the A1 up to Beadnell from Gosforth.

 

Familiar territory.

 

‘Senior policemen are either philosophers or madmen …’

 

So I have heard; it gives me a way ahead in my novel.

 

‘A perverse sexual act can liberate the visionary self in even the dullest soul” writes Ballard.

 

 

Super-Cannes J G Ballard

J. G. Ballard, painted portrait DDC_2018

J. G. Ballard, painted portrait DDC_2018 (Photo credit: Abode of Chaos)

 

With a six and four year old sick at home I do little else but supervise their activities, ensure that they are warm, safe, fed and entertained. I snatch at J G Ballard’s novel, ‘Super Cannes’ from which I exhumed the following quotes. I’ll chew over them another time, when I feel better and I don’t have a four year old having a tantrum.

‘Relaxing on the coast highway, I changed down to third gear. For the next thirty minutes I drove like Frenchman, overtaking on the inside lanes, straddling the central market lines on the most dangerous bends, tailgating any woman driver doing less than seventy, my headlamps flashing, slipping the clutch at traffic lights as the exhaust roared through the muffler and the engines wound itself to a screaming 7000 rev, swerving across the double yellows and forcing any oncoming drivers to skid their wheels in the refuse-filled verges.’ J G Ballard.

It sounds like my brother driving on the A1 up to Beadnell from Gosforth.

Familiar territory.

‘Senior policemen are either philosophers or madmen …’

So I have heard; it gives me a way ahead in my novel.

‘A perverse sexual act can liberate the visionary self in even the dullest soul’‘ writes Ballard.

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