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I wonder if exposure to the Web will change architecture?

The wonderful world wide Web 2.0 is fuel to and reflection of a purely human societal construct on speed or at speed – on speed gives us more of dark, evil, corrupt side of human behaviour while at speed we get the best of altruism, education, community and a desire to do good.

Now take a deep breath and look around you.

If or when there is a calamity in your life were do you turn? A few family members and a few friends who you will need to see and speak to face to face … not via Skype of face time. Locally I trust my community, neighbours and where required the police to keep crime at bay … venture beyond British shores and my faith, trust and experience of each community and its police service will vary.

The Web, because of its networks, means that we are never far removed from a criminal. Visiting the US this summer, fed by movies and not reassured by some of the places we ventured I felt there were guns of necessity on the hips of the police … and hidden guns on people and vehicles. Perhaps if you want to hold up a mirror to the best and the worst of the Web then you should hold it over a patch in California.

Why should the morals or lack thereof of one part of the world be allowed to poison and exploit the World Wide Web?

As, eventually, law and decency catches up a good deal of the filth and criminality will be shut down, locked behind barriers or diluted. In the mean time, like a layer of volcanic dust in the soil profile, a decade or more of anyone who uses the Web who has been exposed to beheadings and the vile, unloving side of pornography, to scams and suffocating spam will have this stain in the brains forever.

I wonder if exposure to the Web will change architecture?

I would feel happier living in a yurt – at least then I could see and know what my kids are doing and with everyone looking over each other’s shoulders – parents, grandparents, friends … and of course the dog, then that would be the best filter of all.

Reflection on Block 1 – towards compliance for those with moderate severe asthma

The most straight forward of assignments has proved anything but … not for how to write this 2000 word piece, that is straight forward, but rather committing to a subject, then narrowing down the theme, possible research question and then dig up some papers … and not simply offer the lot, but give the five ‘that say it all’. To pick five how many must you read, at least as abstracts. I made three false starts, even read a PhD thesis on blogging before deciding it is a minefield. I may like to blog but I no more want to research it for an OU assignment than sort out pebbles on Brighton Beach. Lifelogging, memory and neuroscience all interest me … but are too big to get my head around in a few months – a few years perhaps. Looking at my notes I see I have papers also on augmented learning for field trips and museum visits. Then I returned to a platform that caught my eye three yesrs ago on H807 when I interviewed Dr. B. Price Kerfoot of Harvard Medical School on ‘Spaced Education’. So far this system has been usef with doctors, to support their learning and decission making … the next step will be patients. One of the humdingers here is ‘compliance’ – taking the medication you are prescribed if you have a chronic condition. What dawned on me this afternoon is that as a asthmatic I am the perfect patient – compliant to the nth degree. What surprised me is that such a large percentage of asthmatics are not. But with alleregies – a double-whammy of irritations, I ignore the nasal steroids and antehistemines almost completely. Compliant, and defiant in one go so just about canceeling the two out. But why? This is what fasciantes. You know you need to take something to avoid a return of the symptoms, but as there are no symptoms you stop taking the medication. Anyway, I am sifting through papers to set me straight and to offer some answers. If you have a moderately severe chronic condition and wish to share your medication regime or attitude please speak up – asthma, allergies, diabetes, epilepsy, other mental illnesses – chat on Skype? Meanwhile I checked my preventer inhaler – it was empty. I at least had a spare and will get a repeat prescription in tomorrow.

Reflections on e-learning – September 2010 to September 2012

New Software

Things I was starting to get my head around in 2010:

  • Skype (a phone call for free)
  • Delicious (don’t get it, yet … or need it?)
  • Outlook (Never used it ’til last week not being a PC person)
  • Google Docs (Up there and loading docs. Hear good things from all)
  • Compendium (Created a map for an e-tivity based on my H807 ECA. Populating this to share content with a producer).
  • Zoho (signed in but not sure)
  • Mahara (But Google does it for free and has seamless interplay with all your other favourite Google tools)
  • Pebblepad (Mixed reviews)
  • Adobe Share (Been using Adobe products forever so this should get my attention)
  • Internet Explorer (new to this Mac user!)
  • Dropbox (I’ve always been a box person)

Where I stand in 2012:

  • Skype (use often to friends globally, notably for a job interview with Getty Images, conducting an interview about Spaced Education and on an iPad passing my brother and my nephews around a room of cousins between the UK and South Africa at Christmas)
  • Delicious (Still struggle, not least as I have more than one account and because I don’t see the need to bookmark anything as to Google is quicker and with cookies enabled takes me into my choices)
  • Outlook (formerly trained at the OU on Outlook – training on a 2010 version while we had a 2011 in our office. Still hate it having been raised on all things Mac. Outlook has the look, feel and functionality of Microsoft DOS c 1992)
  • Google Docs (Use as a store to aggregate content, sometimes to share, wiki-like with fellow OU students who are more up to date with the technology than I am)
  • Compendium (Can’t stand it – prefer a variety of free iPad Apps, including SimpleMinds, Bubl.us and several others).
  • Zoho (signed in and gave up)
  • Mahara (signed in a gave up)
  • Pebblepad (signed in and gave up – initially making do with the OU’s MyStuff, which has been discontinued. Find it easier to aggregate content, while I’m an OU Student in my OU Blog, then cut and paste into one or more WordPress blogs – I had 16 at the last count)
  • Adobe Share (Don’t have the budgets, may be of interest once back in a commercial office)
  • Internet Explorer (Never. Over the period have slowly migrated away from Firefox, like family, use Google Chrome almost exclusively)
  • Dropbox (Not really)
  • PicasaWeb – download for all images from camera, iPhone and iPad. Fix then post to some 50 albums, some with over 1000 images (the Picasa limit), pay for extra space. Uncertain or lack confidence though in degree of privacy, especially if screen grabs and other images are automatically uploaded to Google + images (same PicasaWeb account in a different format)

Where I stood in 2010 compared to 2012:

Old Software

  • Word (Yes, but far less often. I write far more often on the iPad using the AI Writer APP, emailing this to a PC to edit, or uploading into a blog to edit there)
  • Filemaker Pro (No longer. I ran it on Macs and iBooks from its inception but others don’t preferring of all things the ghastly Excel). Have Bento, baby FileMaker, on the iPad.
  • AOL (still with AOL, but prefer Gmail and still thinking about changing supplier to BT or Sky)
  • Power Structure (Didn’t upgrade, my iBook died and the software is on an rescued hard drive though I doubt it will work with a new operating system)
  • Final Draft (An excellent script writing tool though created for linear output)
  • Adobe Photoshop (Haven’t upgraded, making do with Picasa)
  • Dreamweaver (haven’t been near it, I never was a programmer type anyway, though cut my teeth in this in 2000)
  • Excell (A very reluctant user – just cannot see how this is used by some to create posters, or run a database that required large quantities of content in a cell. Filemaker Pro is better)

Blogs

  • Diaryland (Quite the thing in 1999). Locked forever. Up forever. Sometimes cut and paste. Always amusing to read posts on developments in web-based learning c. 1999
  • LiveJournal (Preferred by 2002). A stepping stone out of Diaryland.
  • WordPress (Expert) Over a dozen blogs, most notably Mymindbursts, though no longer a diary or journal, but a niche journal largely about e-learning, with subject interests including creative writing, philosophy, tertiary education, history (First War), online and distance education, theories of education. Also blogs on swim coaching and teaching, on the Machine Gun Corps, on the trials and tribulations of a househusband (from old diaries and blogs), on various fiction themes – but also a number of Books of Condolences, in 2011 for colleagues, but very sadly in 2012 for my mother too.
  • EduBlogs (No more)
  • Blogger (No longer)
  • OuBlog (Extensively for all Masters in Open and Distance Education modules, now on my fifth and final module. Daily reflection, updates, aggregating resources, screen clips, diagrams, images, snips from forums, links to other blogs, tagging to assemble content for assignment, re-blog with re-writes to external blogs. Use it like an e-portfolio with CVs and job descriptions here too.)
  • Blipfoto (A picture a day for four or five months – until I have my iPhone to my son. I make do with an iPad and prefer a cheap phone to have kicking around in my pocket or bag … and to avoid being online when out on the South Downs walking the dog!)

Social Networking

  • Facebook (Love hate. Great to be in touch with immediate family and trusted friends only. Got some groups going with boys I knew age 8-13 at boarding prep school. Got out of hand when a relation fell very ill and died as to the appropriateness of sharing our concerns and grief online. Inclined to disengage – do so only to find I am still there?)
  • MySpace (Never, though I am there)
  • Friends Reunited (Never since they started to charge, or since they came back)
  • Linkedin (extensive, professional use with several hundred contacts and activity in many groups. Feed blog content into Linkedin automatically, tailor some content for specific groups, particularly relating to e-learning for corporates and tertiary education)
  • Twitter (extensive, professional use. Did use TweetReach and various other tools. URLs shortened from WordPress, will use Bitl.y)

Other

  • Flickr (Used to use extensively – migrated all content to Picasa as Flickr tried to socialize the space and I found my pictures being offered for sale!)
  • Kodak Easyshare (Rescued 500 of 700 uploaded photos and migrated to Picasa before Kodak closed)
  • YouTube (Should be making extensive use of YouTube. Starting to digitise 40 hours of Oxford Undergraduate life 1982-1984. With permissions will migrate clips to the web in due course.)
  • Picasa (my favourite now, the teenagers are on Instagram and Tumnblr)
  • Ancestry.com (Covered every conceivable ancestor as far back as is possible online. Could make use of the 2011 census to track down a great aunt but not inclined to fork out anymore or to deal with spurious requests from people so off the map in terms of the family tree it is verging on trainspotting.)
  • Genes Reunited (as above. Not been near it) Of minor interest at a family funeral to figure out who were the common ancestors – both gentleman born in the 1870s it turned out!

Browsers

  • Firefox (very rarely, probably in erro)
  • AOL (winding up here for the last 18 months, should have got out long ago.)
  • GoogleChrome (Almost exclusively)
  • Internet Explorer (avoided at all costs)

What’s new?

For the last 18 months extensive use of an iPad and associated Apps, so much so that it is the replacement laptop and even covers as a mobile phone as people know to email me.

Trying to do my final MAODE module on the iPad.

Proving remarkably easy to do so.

Very versatile, especially where resources can be downloaded as PDFs, even to read in Kindle version. Read from the Kindle, note take on the iPad and post online.

Books. We no longer buy them. Is a garage full of wonderful hardbacks worth anything? Glad I never bothered to put up shelves.

Magazines and newspapers. All redundant. Only kept the Guardian on Saturday to have something to line the guinea-pig hutch, when they went so did the newspaper!

TV. Rarely ever watched live. Prefer BBC iPlayer. Exception being the Olympics and Paralympics.

Pen and paper. I do. An A5 notebook and pen. Though prefer to type up notes as I go along.

Twitter Share. Reading an eBook and sharing a line or two with a note directly into Twitter. This aggregates content in an editable format and alerts ‘followers’ to a good read – usually on learning, education, e-learning, also on social media, story writing and the First World War. Sometimes some great out of copyright literature.

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).

Can dentistry be taught online?

I go to the dentist. He tutors online and has had problems with this. Before and after a check-up, replacement filling and de-scaling we discuss the pros and cons of e-learning over residential schools.

Dentistry, quite frankly, isn’t one that struck me as something that could be taught online.

Maybe if I’d signed a release form the contents of my mouth could have been chewed over online.

For my ‘A to Z of e-learning’ I now have another ‘d’.

I guess dentistry can be taught online, though as amalgamated learning rather than blended learning.

On the surface it sounded like a technical issue, though I know that familiarity with the tools, with being online, with even hearing your own voice online can be issues, let alone the natural desire of people to have some kind of opportunity to get to know each other.

He said that people were happiest typing synchronously rather than speaking, in which case that is what you go with, playing to people’s strengths within a zone in which they feel comfortable.

Hearing someone for the first time creates a different image in the mind’s eye, often an image that is at odds with a person’s profile picture or how you perceived them.

Virtual Learning Environment vs. Personal Learning Environment. Who wins?


  • John Petit
  • Martin Weller
  • Niall Sclater

Stephen Downes – Students own education

·How much do they actually differ in their views?

·What is my perspective?

·Freedom is lack of choice

·Parameters work

·Creativity is mistakes

·Have rules, the mischievous or skilled will break them anyway

·The end result counts.

a)This isn’t a debate. Neither takes sides and the chair interjects his own thoughts. A debate, whether at school, university or in a club, or in a court of law or the House of Commons, is purposely adversarial, people take sides, even take a stance on a point of view they may not wholly support, in order to winkle out answers that may stand somewhere between the two combatants.

b)During the MAODE this might be the second such offering as a ‘debate,’ the last being as weak. What is more I have attended a Faculty debate which shilly-shallied around the issues with at times from an audience’s point of view it being hard to know whose side the speakers were on?

c)As well as deploring the lack of rigour regarding what should or should not be defined as a debate, the vacuous nature of the conversations means that you don’t gain one single new piece of evidence either way. Generalities are not arguments, neither side attempts to offer a knock-out blow, indeed Martin Weller seems keen to speak for both sides of the argument throughout.

When Martin Weller implies that a VLE constrains because ‘There are so many fantastic tools out there that are free and robust and easy to use.’ I would like a) example b) research based evidence regarding such tools, which do offer some compelling arguments, these commercial and branded products have to offer something refreshing and valuable.

Unlike some university offering they are therefore not only effective, but vitally, they are fun, tactile, smartly constructed, well-funded, give cache to the user, are easy to share, champion and become evangelical about, explored, exploited and developed further. Here I compare Compendium with the delight of bubbl.us.

Here I compare blogging in the confines of the abandoned cold-frame that is the Victorian OU student blogging platform compared to the Las Vegas experience of WordPress.

I can even compare how WordPress performs externally compared to the shackled version provided by the OU. On the one hand there is a desire to treat students like sheep; there is even a suggestion in this chatty-thing between Niall Sclater and Martin Weller than OU undergraduates ought to offer the most basic environment in which to operate. Access is an important point, but you don’t develop players in an orchestra by shutting everyone in a hall and giving them a kazoo. And if that Kazoo requires instructions then it deserves being ignored. Having lived with it for a year the OU e-portfolio My Stuff might best be described as some kind of organ-grinder with the functionality and fun-factor of Microsoft DOS circa 1991.

Martin Weller makes the point about tools that might be used this before, during and after their university experience. There is a set of ICT tools covering word-processing, databases, number manipulation, calendars and communications that are a vital suite of skills; skills that some might already have, or partially have … or not have at all. The problem is in the accommodation of this widely differing skill set.

JV Exposure to new, or similar, experience of better as well as weaker programmes/tools, fashion, peer group, nature of the subject they are studying, their ambitions, who they are, how much time they have, their kit, connection and inclinations, let alone the context of where they are going online.

In this respect Martin Weller is right to say that ‘some kind of default learning environment’ is required first of all.

Caveat: You are going to need people to use the same kind of things in order to be able to communicate.

·University blog vs. their own bog.

·University e-portfolio vs. their own portfolio.

·Elluminate vs. Skype.

·Mac vs. PC,

·Tablet vs. laptop.

·Desktop vs. smartphone.

·Paper vs. e-Reader.

·University Forum vs. Linked in or others.

·Twitter vs. Yammer.

Swimming analogy: training pool, leisure pool, main pool, diving pool, Jacuzzi.

Niall Sclater makes a point about a student using an external blog that doesn’t have a screen reader. Do browsers not offer this as a default now? Whilst I doubt the quality of translation I’ve been having fun putting everything I normally look at into French or loading content onto an e-reader and having it read to me on long car journeys. The beauty of Web 2.0 and Open Learn is that developers love to solve problems then share their work. Open Learn allows these fixers to crack on at a pace that no institution can match.

Perhaps issues regarding passwords is one such problem which is no longer a problem with management systems. Saving passwords etc.: Other problems we have all see rise and fall might include spam. The next problem will be to filter out spam in the form of ‘Twitter Twaddle’ the overwhelming flack of pre-written RSS grabbed institutional and corporate messages that should without exception be ‘flagged’ by readers as spam until it stops. I never had a conversation with a piece of direct mail shoved at me through my letter box, or spam come to that matter. Here largely the walled, university environment in which to study, is protected from the swelling noise of distraction on the outside,

Niall Sclater talks about the Wiki on OU VLE, in Moodle ‘comprises what we consider is the most useful functionality for students. The OU ‘cut out a lot of the bells and whistles you find in MediaWiki’. New to wikis I enjoyed being eased into their use, but like a keen skier, or swimmer, having found my ‘legs’ I wanted incremental progressions. Being compelled to stay in the training pool, or on the nursery slopes, to return to by Kazoo metaphor, is like having Grade 5 flute, but having to play with six novice recorder players in Kindergarten. We move on and therefore what is offered should move with us.

Universities fail abysmally to sell their products to their captive audiences.

Commercial products are sold, invitingly to everyone who comes within earshot. There is a commercial naivety and intellectual arrogance sometimes over stuff created that must be great, because it is the invention of brilliant minds … and that its brilliance will be self-evident even if it sits their within its highly branded overcoat waiting for some time to take an interest and take it out for a test drive. Creators of these tools forget that a quick search using some of the terms related to the affordances of the product being offered will invariably produce something more appealing from the likes of Google, Adobe, Apple or Microsoft.

Nail Sclater points out that some students can be confused by too much functionality. I agree. If there is a product that has far too much functionality, it is Elluminate. And even for a library search, it ought to be as simple as the real thing … you go to a counter and ask for a title. Google gets it right. Keep it simple. Others are at last following suit. Or is the Google God now omnipresent?

Martin Weller stumbles when he says that Nail ‘hits on two arguments against decentralised PLEs by

a)Giving three arguments

a.Authentication

b.Integration

c.Robustness

b)He is meant to be in favour of PLEs.

i.e. academics are incapable of debate because they are, to use of Martin Weller’s favourite terms ‘contextualised’ to sit on the fence. A debate should be a contest, a bullfight ideally with a clear winner, the other party a convincing looser.

You wouldn’t let a soldier chose his weapons then enter the fray. There has to be a modicum of formal training across a variety of tools, and in a controlled, stepped fashion in order to bring people along, communally, for retention and to engender collaboration and participation and all that benefits that come from that.

Who at a time of change is going to declare their role, or department redundant? Brought into a new role, Social Media Manager, I feel I will have succeed in 12 months if I have handed over the keys to others, spread some of the glory about. That’s how I see it, a little bit of everybody’s lives. You can wordprocess, you can do some aspect of Social Media. There are other functions though that long ago were circumvented by clever software. Web 2.0 deplores the gatekeeper. It wants to put everything ‘out there,’ enabling everyone and anyone to make of it what they need and please.

Personally I’ve been loading content, text and images, in diaryland since Sept 1999 and have never had an issue with access, yet I have repeatedly found my OU e-portfolio failed, or that while composing a response in a forum the system fell-down and I lost what I was doing.

Nial Sclater argues in favour of VLEs to ensure usability, access, extension to students, common ground on terms of tools, opportunity and form an assessment point of view, use of content too.

While Martin Weller wants to ‘Support’ – an argument for VLEs. (I’ve now made the point several times that Martin Weller seemed unsure of which side he was on, and by personality and from experience, will never take a side in any case).

We DO want people going away being able to use package X. Do we turn out Roy Castle types who can play loads of instruments not very well, or a virtuoso performer who can at least play the cello well?

JP stepping in ‘as my confidence grew I got to know that and my confidence grew across the year as I got to know that and one or two other very limited and well-supported tools’

Nial Sclater’s point that the same tool is required for collaboration and assessment. This applies also to reading the materials provided and doing the activities so that these are the points of reference for assessments (as currently practised). How can a Tutor mark an assessment that is based on vegetables from a walled Victorian kitchen garden, when the student offers flowers grown from seed in a tub? To return to my sporting analogy, how might I judge a person’s ability to swim after 12 weeks if they’ve been learning how to sail?

Parameters have a purpose.

The greatest resistance to a writer is having no sense of purpose, no goals, no parameters, no set pieces, no one to be on their case. A free for all, perhaps as the new London Business and Finance School is finding, is that just giving students the lot and telling them to get on with it is not conducive to a viable learning experience. (Nor do I think it’ll deliver someone is able to work with others).

From Computer Lab to iPad – my 30 year journey through learning enhanced by computers

I was, in 1983, introduced to the wonders of the University Computer Lab.

‘Back then’ this wasn’t an elective, but rather signing up to some additional, extra-curricular training.

It did not appeal one bit; I could imagine to some degree where it was going and its necessity in one of my options in my undergraduate degree course (remote sensing from space), but to achieve anything (I am neither computer literate or mechanically minded), it struck me, as was the case, that your required a certain mindset (that of an engineer or mathematician). Because it was in little demand, not networked, bespoke to a project and housed in one place it was akin to joining the stamp club and about as exciting. It was however ‘on request,’ rather than compulsory and could with ease be ignored.

I wonder if a more laissez-faire approach would work?

More of an internal market in an organisation where choices are offered to individuals so that the decission making could be more bottom up than top down? i.e. you have a budget, you pick the kit you’d like, the software you need rather than being prescribed a piece of kit and software and obliged to learn it.

I imagine the moment I can afford to buy a Mac I’ll do so.

The simplest analogy would be is that I feel I’ve been told I have to use a Rotring pen and a ruler, but I’d prefer to use a soft HB6 pencil and a pad of cartridge paper. The end result, the task or peice of communication I have to deliver will be the same, I just get there ‘my way,’ rather than ‘your way’.

My university experience from the 1980s, to that as student and now insider thirty years on at the OU is different, however, invited to meet a group of Associate Lecturers yesterday to have my mind picked regarding web-conferencing, Elluminate and synchronous learning in general, I was struct not by how things have changed, but how what matters hasn’t changed at all – there are educators who are fascinate by and passionate about what they do.

There is a desire to do the best by their students and to get their heads around what tools could be used to improve or enhance this experience. Even speaking with my 85 year old father-in-law, a former prof who still ‘teaches’ I am struck by this vocational zeal, which is shared whether by email and Skype, by snailmail or a tutorial, collaboration on a book, or giving a talk (still) at a summer school.

The lesson I have learnt therefore is never to let the technology get in the way of this experience, that between educator and student, the knowledgeable and the less knowledgeable, playing on this inhate human desire to share our experience and knowledge whatever that might be.

Increasingly, when discussing the merits of kit or software, I return to this theme, that people have not changed and that the natural relationships that form between people in markets, in villages, in communities, is what we crave and repeatedly recreate online in a multitude of ways.

We are all the people we have ever been


What image should we use to portray ourselves?

Is there such as thing as best practice? Ought it to be like joining a gym, we have a snapshot taken on a webcam and this current image, no matter how it comes out, becomes who we are?


Do so few of us dislike or distrust what we see when we look at our faces in the mirror each morning?

It has been the subject of research, role play in online education; I’d like to do some of my own.

I began a year ago with this.

I liked the picture, felt it was healthy, robust and confident and confident.

I should have looked at the date on it. August 2004. Happy and sunny days. You age under stress and from the mid-40s it doesn’t take much to add ten years -all that sun in the past, being unwell.

As I write below, his spirit, like mine (I hope) remains that of an enthusiastic twenty-something.

The same occurred with the Elluminate session we had in H800 the other day, the tutor on the webcam (initially in a scratchy black and white image) is not the person who goes by in the General Forum. Are we all guilty of this. Men included? We go with something in our late thirties or early to mid-forties?


I then went with this.

An image I long ago used in my eleven year old blog. I wanted something that was indicative of the content and would last. I’m still inclined to run with this. It is indicative of what I think blogging is all about – the contents of your mind, what you think i.e. you ‘mind bursts’ as I call them on numerous blogs.

Facebook personas sees me in a number of guises

While on Skype I use a image taken with the webcam on the day of an online interview – this is a month ago, so as contemporary as it gets.


I have this image fronting Tumblr taken 21 years ago.

In moments of euphoria having just successfully negotiated a 15m pond of slush on a pair of skis in front of a crowd of early May skiers below the Tignes Glacier, France. The day I proposed to my wife. We’d be ‘going out together’ for three days … we’ve now been together, well 21 years.

In my original diary we could create banner ads to publicise what we had to say to fellow writers. One of these has a spread as long as the contents of my diaries and blog: they run from a 13 year old Head Chorister in cassock and ruffs, though gap, undergrad, to add exec, video director, with four woman I didn’t marry.


Increasingly, I am thinking of using a self-portrait, that this attempt to capture myself through my minds eye is more telling that a photograph.


I could use the drawing I did of a 14 year old

What amuses me most here is how I superimpose these attachments as if I were in a school play, the beard is clearly on the soft face of a pubescent boy – I should have looked at my grandfather for the face I’d get, with the more bulbous nose and pronounced chin.

Talking of which, I find it intriguing that I am the spitting image of my grandfather, that my own children see images of him age 20 and think it has to be me. All that changes as he ages into a 40 and 50 year old is he goes bald, whereas I am thus far limited to a thinning of the crown.

This I’m afraid, if the age of my children in the rest of the picture is something to go by, is some seven years ago 😦

My only reason for picking it is that I haven’t renewed my contact lenses and am inclined, after twenty years wearing them to give up. Maybe laser surgery when I have the cash?
This is contemporary. It doesn’t say who I am, just ‘what’ I am. Wearing a child’s hat (he’s a dad), the headset to record notes onto a digital recorder (for a podcast), a coat he bought for honeymooning in the Alps (we went skiing) 18 years ago …


I have of course not changed much since 1977

It takes me back to the original point – who are we? how do we representative ourselves online in a single image when we are all a sum of a complex of parts?

Is it any wonder that we present multiple selves online, the more so the longer we’ve lived?

I don’t remember my father being around to take this picture. though clearly he did. I do remember the great-big wellies though and the joy of water spilling over the top if I could find a puddle or pond deep enough. And the jumpers knitted by my granny (sleeves always too long). And the trees in the garden I climbed behind. And my sister and brother …

How set in were the learning process by then?

The Dracula Spectacula, People’s Theatre, Newcastle.

The teeth were made from dentine and fitted by an orthodontist.I rather foolishly sharpened the fangs and bit through my own lip on the last night. I had to sing while gargling my own blood. The joy of memories.

  • Could a daily snap taken when looking in the bathroom mirror be used to tag memories from that ‘era’ of your life?

Johnny Depp was my line manager

And if real learning occurs, is it no longer ‘virtual?’

Where does reality end?

What part of your subconscious is real?

It happens after all, if yo think it or dream it. We distinguish between learning and e-learning; should we ? Did we distinguish a different reality after the train, after the telephone, after television or a man on the moon?

I am often online, I speak to people through Skype and Elluminate.

Yesterday I likened an Elluminate ‘tutorial’ with seven or eight fellow students as wearing a blindfold in a meeting; yo have to be alert to the presence of others, be sensitive to their interest (or lack of), their hand going up, or not. You are dependent on your only sighted person present – the tutor or moderator.

Over the last month I have been interviewed for a job on Skype. Producers have discussed my work on Skype.

I have been set task to show what I can do, somehow my body of work, the videos and scripts not real enough. Can I still fill a blank sheet of paper with pertinent and persuasive ideas; that’s what they want to know.

My blend of learning uses the conscious and subconscious.

I consciously go to bed with a book, now on Kindle, currently reading through my extensive highlights and notes on two books: Education Psychology (Vygotsky 1926) and ‘Rethinking Pedagogy for the Digital age (Helen Beetham & Rhona Sharpe eds. 2007). As I drift away I may close the Kindle, may slip it safely to one side .. may not. I matters not a jot. I’tll look after itself.

No wonder I find myself dwelling on all matter of things.

Earlier I woke thinking about one of these job interviews: it may be to work on contrast, it may be to work freelance, there are even a couple of full-time posts. All want to know what I have done recently. What they really need to know is what can I do for them next week or month. Or now.

As I return to consciousness I reflect on the interview that was on my mind, only to realise that it is highly unlikely that my future boss Is Johnny Depp. I’ve been duped by my own mind. No worries. The thoughts relate to the real opportunities, not this peculiar mash-up in a virtual world.

I have multiple presences in cyberspace with ‘faces on’ that may be anything from a week to 15 years old. Indeed, I ought to attach an image of the six year old me to a collection of ‘earliest memories.’

I have a couple of existences in Second Life too, though I’ve yet to run with these.

Would I not get more confused over where reality ends?

If it is becoming less easy to distinguish reality from the virtual, how are we supposed to differentiate between learning and e-learning? Is it not the case that both could be going on … but a student, or the students are doing no learning in either situation? That they are elsewhere? That they are not engaged? Yet hours later, consciously or otherwise, a recollection of a ‘lesson’ may produce a learning moment, may generate ‘stuff’ a learning object in that person’s consciousness?

 

Modules from the Open University Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE)

Twitter 6x6

Twitter 6×6 (Photo credit: Steve Woolf)

H807, H808 to H800 – Modules of the Open University Masters in Open and Distance Education

Either it is reflection of my growth through this course, or it is a blossoming of the MA ODE course. Looking at how we students will share contact details: Email, Skype, Blog and Twitter accounts suggests to me that any containment within the OU VLE is now cursory.

I feel this will increase its use, not diminish it.

This will remain the hub from which course materials, resources and context emanated with blogging, Skype and Twitter having their role to play.

All I can suggest to fellow students is to screen grab, cut and paste or download content you create beyond this platform as at some stage it is certainly going to form a significant part of your aggregated knowledge, possibly even evidence of participation.

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