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How to compose rainbow sentences

Rainbow
‘How to compose rainbow sentences’ is how I am putting it, though the range of colours is not seven, but four: red, blue, green and purple.
From the moment I entered the classroom Tony made me feel welcome despite my unease, even embarrassment at how few people there were.
I quickly felt that two things were going to happen – I would observe and take part in the perfect classroom experience and I’d go away informed and perhaps even I inspired. Perhaps my intention to gen up on teaching practice was a wise move after all.
I wished from the start that I had been recording every word.
Though it was an informal chat before the class Tony was bubbling. When I said that I was a ‘Learning Technologist’ – an intermediary between the tutors and students supporting and introducing the use of digital software and hardware, he took the hook and ran with it while one or two more people took their seats.
I did not take adequately clear notes to understand his example of how a class had worked with wikis to work collaboratively on an answer to a task.
His tantalizing offer to help me abolish hand in dates was being put to the wrong person – I may appreciate the need to have and to create deadlines, but that’s not my role.
It became more clear when I said that I was a ‘Learning Technologist’ – describing myself as an intermediary between the tutors and students supporting and introducing the use of digital platforms and tools, from Google Classroom to Apps, VR and AR, blogs and video.
Tony took this information and ran with it for a while as one or two more people took their seats.
The introductory phase was subtle and engaging. It had me expectant. It felt to me that had I been the only person to turn up, that given both his personality and professionalism, Tony would have been utterly prepared to deliver the best class possible regardlessly. There were four of us to start with – a fifth appeared a little later.
My colleagues were from Uniformed Services (two of them), early years teaching and fashion & textiles.
We were asked about induction: what it entailed, for how long it went on and when we knew it had been done. is it complete in an afternoon or day, a week or two. Should students be up to speed by the second week? He suggested that too much of induction was box ticking.
Tony took a sideways step, literally, to introduce the metaphor of ‘crossing the carpet’ – of getting students both physically and mentally into a different place. By way of example he talked of music students who began their new college on day one reasonably diversified and very much their parents’ son or daughter who within two weeks were almost all in the uniform of black jeans and black T-shirts with a developing array of exciting hairstyles’ cuts and colours. They had both physically and mentally changed. It is the phrase ‘changing behaviours’ that was like a new ABBA tune to my ears. I have done, and bought into the theory of education and can equate to it personally in relation to the CBT I have done.
Tony concluded this part of the session by praising the Newcastle College which ran an eight week extended induction that expected students to been on board by the first week after half-term.
The vital lesson to be understood from this is that preparing students for study pays dividends rather than rushing in to deliver course content.
The four teachers amongst the five of us were asked how much time they spent helping students who got behind and marking assessments. From his experience, not countered by the group, 5-7 hours a week could be spent one to one helping those who were getting behind and far much more time spent marking homework. Much to my embarrassment he said that I (the learning technologist) was the answer to this problem and could therefore give them back some of the invaluable contact time with the students. (Have I understood that and expressed it correctly?)
Crafting evidence-based opinion
We did three exercises and with each one improved our skills and confidence at writing an evidence-based sentence. The technique taught was to use four-colours to identify the required components. The object of the sentence, or ‘vocational term’ was blue. The evaluation of the object, or judgement is red. The detail and opinion is in green. The clincher (as I would put it) or ‘impact’ is purple.
To undertake this series of exercises, each carefully crafted and scaffolded, we began by viewing and reviewing an ancient and somewhat laughable video of The Beach Boys singing ‘I Get Around’. We then had to complete a ‘fill in the blanks’ exercise where the kind of word we would use was denoted by a line in one of the above colours whilst selecting from an appropriate word from a list.
In first exercise (of three) we had to consider the audio performance.
I came up with:
The close harmony is excellent, the vocal intonation is perfect and the use of vocal double tracking creates a rich wash of sound that adds an exciting exuberance to the audio performance.
In the second exercise, cranking up the opportunity to be more judgemental, we had to consider the visual performance. Once again we had a set of vocational terms, judgement words, opinion and impact words.
I came up with:
The visual performance is however embarrassingly poor. The blocking and staging of the shots make the individual performances appear self-conscious and embarrassing. Discrepancies in foot tapping and the out of phase bouncing of the individual performers spoils the sense of a United groove. This is made comical by the bouncing of the vehicle on which two of the performers are sitting.
For the final exercise we turned the page and we faced with the scary emptiness of a large blank space without only part of the scaffolding we had had before. We had what was described as a resource to use or ignore : a set of words denoted by colour.
We were asked how we felt going into this exercise and were prompted with ‘scary’. Perhaps we should have been prompted to speak up and use the very technique being taught. I jotted down. ‘Thrilled – like stepping out onto a football pitch to play a game after ha,f an hour of practice’. Though the actual image that came to mind was more about prepping for some theatrical improvisation and then stepping up onto the stage.
We were the asked to review Massbetelnut’s version of ‘i get around’. This very quickly had us all splitting our sides with laughter.
I wrote:
The band performed like bees caught in a beer glass. The performances were individually and collectively ridiculous – more like a Monty-Python sketch. The re-imagined sound dub was ingeniously crafted to reduce all those watching it to tears of asthmatic laughter.

Reflecting on FLST14

I will never tire of the kind of engagement that comes from working online. Despite being able to contribute far less than usual during the five weeks of FSLT14 I nonetheless folloed the steady, manageable stream of points being made in the threaded discussions which were never too overwhelming. The greatest value for me came from reading the assignments of others and in my own live session which, because there were three students and two tutors resulted in far more of a tutorial like atmosphere – I wish I’d had a chance to join all the others too as my perspective of what each speaker had to say was hugely magnified by hearing them explain, excuse, enthuse, apoligise for, compare or give reason to their response. I must remember too that committing your words, publishing them to the Web, is still a big thing for many people – not that many of us are still blogging as they did in 1999.

Worth remarking is that this intimate, manageable, not overly designed and human online course possibly achieved so much because it was delivered on a human scale and did what it set out to do. I have to wonder on the value, it did come up, of doing nothing as a learning theory (Knud Illeris) that the pauses and spaces in learning matter – that reflection occurs not just as a formal exercise, but occurs simply by taking things more slowly, and not just that, but stopping too.

Have I learnt by osmosis? I’ve read everything but unusually for me not jumped in to comment all the time. I did this because I felt I would be unable to keep up the discussion very closely, perhaps responding every few days, simply because I am online working and writing elsewhere.

I am not an educator in higher education, though I have had experience of teaching, talking and giving workshops at every level from primary school to MBA, in the conference hall or by the pool, in a class and online to one or being followed by many hundreds. This peripatetic online presence may shape up into something more formal as a regular moderator or tutor or I may retreat to whatever space suits me best to research and write.

Three years ago I challenged Martin Weller on how long it would take to recognise someone as a digital scholar – he said ten years, I said four. At the time I thought of voices like that of Andrew Sullivan as a scholarly voice of the digital age – but with a BA from Oxford, and MA and Phd from Harvard however much he lives out his life as a professional blogger he is surely the scholar who uses the digital platform, rather than a product of it. So I got that wrong. My thinking is that the scholar who is of the digital environment can still do it in four years, but we need to think of students who exploit it exclusively, and probably of necessity because of their circumstances – and indicated by fast tracking teenagers taking degrees here, and never moving on to the campus for their MA and PhD – or only tangentially. After all, at what point does all learning becoming blended between the online and the ‘off line’ and as appears to be happening, once again, all learning is simply that, without the need to add an e or an m in front of it.

Much more to reflect on – to chew the cud online.

Towards an assessment of my teaching

I often share a post I am writing as I do so. In this case having identified the story to tell : running a workshop to solve a ‘messy’ business problem I am pulling together or creating supporting images, in the above case a grab and mashup from Martin Weller’s book ‘The Digital Scholar’ – my goal is to be recognised as one. In a forum post as an Open University ‘Master of arts in Open and Distance Education’ (I graduated in early 2013) I suggested this could be achieved in four years – John Seely Brown thinks that eLearning speeds things up, while Weller reckons on ten years.

Reflecting on a presentation on learning to students at Oxford Brookes University

Fig.1. Rescue having failed a 4 tonne whale is dragged from Stinson Beach. 

As a student on Oxford Brookes University’s online course ‘First Steps into Teaching and Learning 2014’ here in week 4 we have been challenged to consider an experience from teaching or being taught and in a five minute presentation reflect on this.

My interest is teaching postgraduates and/or ‘in the workplace’.

I should be feeling I’ve stumbled into the right time and place with this one having just given a ten minute presentation online as part of the Open University Masters in Open and Distance Education module H818: The Networked Practitioner, however with that one, despite every expectation to exploit my love of and experience with linear and interactive media I resorted to a Powerpoint. I needed to improve the script up to the line and this offered the flexibility I could not have had with a Prezi or video. There were too many cumbersome technical barriers and trips that I wasn’t happy to pursue or risk.

What I’m doing here is thinking through a presentation I need to prepare. Sharing this, if and where feedback can be garnered, then informs the decisions I take.

My immediate idea, often my best, is to do a selfie-video talking to camera while hurtling around a roller-coaster at Thorp Park. It would sum up the terror, thrill, highs and lows of taking a day long workshop with a class of some 40 year 9s (12/13 year olds) in a secondary school that had/has a checkered history.

The second idea, to change the setting radically, would be a workshop with nine on creative problem solving – the objective was to come up with answers to a messy problem, though the motivation to be present for most was to experience a variety of creative problem solving activities that I had lined up. This nine in an organisation, included MBAs, prospective MBAs, a senior lecture, junior and senior managers and officers: colleagues and invited guests from different departments. This example is probably the most appropriate.

A third might be something I attended as a student – apt because doing this in 2009/2010 in part stimulated me to take an interest in learning: I wanted to know what was going wrong. Here we had prospective club swimming coaches doing everything that was unnatural to them – working from a hefty tome of paper, sitting through a lecture/seminar and expecting assessment to be achieved by filling in the blanks on course sheet handouts. This from people with few exceptions who left school with few or no qualifications – often troubled by Dyslexia. They were swimming coaches to dodge this very kind of experience. It was, you could tell, hell for some. The misalignment could not have been greater. Here the immediate visual image, apt given the subject matter, would be to watch a fish out of water drown – or nearly drown and be rescued. What really grated for me in this course was the rubbish that was taught – too many gross simplifications and spurious science.

Based on the above I should challenge myself to do the video as I need to crack loading and editing. The fish out of water, whale actually, I can illustrate from photographs and the experience this summer of being present as a 4 tonne whale beached and drowned on Stinson Beach, California (See Fig.1. above).

Reflection: we are all so very, very, different when it comes to learning

Just ten minutes. A live presentation. Why for me should it be such a big deal?

I said to my wife that I have not problems delivering other people’s words (acting) and I have no trouble writing words for others to speak (speech writer, script writer), but what I loathe and struggle with is delivering my own words on any kind of platform.

Big fails on this count, emotionally at least would include:

My grandfather’s funeral

My groom’s wedding speech (I was pants at proposing too)

My father’s funeral

My mother’s funeral

Because it matters to me far too much when, and only when, the words that I give seem to emanate from my soul.

Let me blog, let me write letters, let me smoulder from my ears into the atmosphere with no expectation of feedback.

Both positive and negative feedback, especially if constructive, sends a shiver through my bones. Why is it that I crave confrontation, that I want to be mentally smacked around the head, then kicked up the arse and sent back into the fray to deliver some amazing show of ability?

We are all so, so, so very different, yet how we are taught, or expected to learn seems so very contrived, so set by context and numerous parameters.

I would prefer to be stuck in a cabin for a couple of weeks with an educator who hasn’t a clue about the subject, but is a natural educator, than someone who has ticked a collection of boxes in order to obtain their position. The natural educator can teach anything. The subject matter expert thinks they know everything. eLearning can be the subject matter expect – ‘IT’ (literally) thinks it knows it all.

So, connect me, and for me connect students and educators – worry only about the desire and ability to teach or transmit and manger those hungry to gain knowledge, and for students concentrate almost entirely on motivation. If they want to learn pores will open up in their skull so that you can pour in the information and they’ll never be satiated.

Teaching, coaching and mentoring

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I have done and do all three. Are coaching and mentoring subsets of teaching? Yes, though I don’t have to have been the teacher to do either. Another person can be the teacher and that teaching could surely have been done through a book, video or game? After several months doing a Rosettastone language App where or who is my teacher? Perhaps my wife is my mentor and buying in time with a person will add coaching to the mix.

I wonder if to be taught is akin to taking a train or bus ride, while self-directed learning is like riding a bike? That learning like this is like driving a car where through choice the passengers are either fellow learners and the tutor/educator?

Timing would be a key consideration for me – which would relate to pace, variety, purpose and spreading myself around the ‘class’. I will be in a studio like ‘class’ this afternoon for three hours. The groundwork has been done by others, in this context I am a catalyst and sounding board. The teaching will have been done, I don’t know the students well enough to mentor them so it as ‘coach’ or ‘consultant’ that in small groups they will have me for 10-15 minutes each. I have learnt to set a timer on this, not just setting a stopwatch on an iPhone anymore, but going in with a large egg timer – A bit theatrical but it keeps everyone’s attention. Reflecting on ideas about ‘the lecture’ what the above means to me is exploiting the live nature of it – I even consciously dress for the part.

Increasingly I am coming to cherish the values of teaching live and in the flesh for me ‘the teacher’ and for the students. All the more reason to milk these up close moments and cherish them for what they are compared to being disembodied and at a distance online.

Where do I stand academically? Where and what next? And the madness of being.

Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) with the Open University, UK (OU)

H800: Technology-enhanced learning: practices and debates

H807: Innovations in eLearning – Learning outcomes

H810: Accessible online learning: supporting disabled students

B822: Creativity, Innovation and Change

H808: The e-learning professional

This completes the Masters Degree. I graduate on Saturday 27th April 2013

Currently (March 2013) I am taking H809 as a bridge towards doctoral research or professional consultancy. Complete in June 2013.

H809 Practice-based research in educational technology

I joined the #H817open MOOC for one component of this module. I will register for 2014

H817: Openness and innovation in e-learning.

I am applying to undertake doctoral research in education – using learning technologies.
 
H809 will help prepare for applications starting in January 2014 for an October 2014 start. Most are now a 4 year programme, with a Masters in research to begin. WebSciences at University of Southampton is an interesting option – I attended an Open Day in January.
Too many active interests was a stated issue on childhood school reports. Nothing’s changed.
 
I am looking at an MA in History with the University of Birmingham which would give me the opportunity study the First World War. (I have written extensively about this through my late grandfather’s memoire ‘That’s Nothing Compared to Passchandeale’)
I attended the School of Communication Arts, London. A full-time programme in copywriting, art direction and design and have worked in the ‘creative’ and ‘communications’ industries all of my career.
And ‘EAVE’ (European Audiovisual Entrepreneurs)
My first degree is in Geography.
My dissertation was on demographics. I love maps. Perhaps I should try to match maps, e-learning and the First World War. Animated it all and add some interviews and n ‘drama reconstruction’.
See what happens when you let something fester and wake up in the middle of the night.
 
Neuroscience and long term memory are fascinating too.
I need my life over. I need to split into three and start again. I need a coffee and a long walk on the South Downs. (I need to go back to bed)
And then there’s Fine Art.
 
And Creative Writing. And cooking. And the garden. There’s teaching, and moderating … and blogging. There’s movies. And sailing and swimming coaching. There’s family and friend … ah. Friend? I knew there was something missing in all of the above.
Scrap the lot and have a belated 50th birthday to celebrate 20 years of marriage, parenthood and the madness of being. Then sign up to crew in the Round the World Yacht Race.
There’s a reason why I call this blog ‘mind bursts’.

Turning thoughts into action – the life of Z A Pelczynski remembered

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Read cover to cover yesterday, into the evening and small hours. I’m now onto the second read, with various notes to add, references to pursue and further research to undertake.

Yet to be published, I’ll give detials in due course of how to get your hands on a copy.

Why read ‘A Life Remembered’ ?

It’s a fascinating life story from surving the Warsaw Uprising as a teenager to achieving as an Academic and educator in England, Scotland then at various leading universities around the world while pursing various interests and causes with passion and dogged determination. A life lesson? I think so.

Gagné’s nine steps for instructional design

Picking through the OU Library for something on Gagné I found two great articles:

How to use Gagné’s model of instructional design in teaching psychomotor skills

and

Using Gagné’s theory to teach chest X-ray interpretation

However, no one can tell me how to put an acute accent on Gagné (neither of these reports did so).

Any suggestions?

And how to put an umlaut on Engeström.

I ask as I am fed up having this pointed out in every assignment I submit.

The teacher educates the student by varying the environment

If I wished to define the way I lead, or teach it would be this:

As Vygotsky put it:

‘The gardener affects the germination of his flowers by increasing the temperature, regulating the moisture, varying the relative position of neighboring plants, and selecting and mixing soils and fertilizer, i.e. once again, indirectly, by making appropriate changed in the environment. Thus it is that the teacher educates the student by varying the environment’. Vygotsky 1926 (Kindle location 1129)

And further on he says:

‘The basic rule is that before imparting new knowledge to the child and before fostering a new reaction in him, we must be sure to prepare the ground for it i.e. arouse the appropriate interest. For an analogy, just think how we loosen the soil before planting seeds’. (Kindle location 1755)

Is this an e-reader location system? Page numbers no longer exists … my world of reading books with pages numbers ended a week ago!

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