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I need help with – experiences of blended learning, integrating online and physical activities

To be a GamesMaker for the London 2012 Olympics ‘training’ included turning up to Wembley Arena on your allotted day with 6,000 other people. We enjoyed and in a simple way took part. We got a folder with a CD in it. We then following these steps to do our homework which was then followed up by a more intimate session with our group. Its of interest here because it bridges being physically present to learn, meet others and do stuff, while having things to do and learn on your own … then bringing it all back. It was right, because it was related to sport, to have both components and the graphics/design included this step my step, game-board like stages to take you through it all. The idea was to get you to visualise your journey through the stages. My plan is to have students at a location, outside rather than in a museum. Can they enter therefore a virtual museum where they contribute to the artefacts ‘on display’ by contributing their own and commenting on the work of others. Like this module! Here I want photos of WW1 combatants – trying to name people, trying to plot the last known position of the missing … to play on a geekish interest in the First World War to get scholarly and accurate contributions, but also to gather feelings and thoughts in anything a person wants to put up.

The New Learning Architect

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Well worth the read – cover to cover, taking notes, highlighting key ideas, sharing online through Twitter and indue course here and through various Linkedin groups.

Why two sensory modes are often better than one when creating e-learning of something complex

Fig. 1. A powerful video can get the learner’s attention – keeping it takes a different kind of skill

Too many companies are currently touting software that can take a 45 minute lecture and package it in a form that makes in bite-sized and tagged – butting it through the Magi-Mix, diced. I can’t say it will necessarily improve or add to the learning experience, though I do like to stop start, rewind, play over, repeat, take notes … go back to the start.

The definitive research on use of audio and text to enhance effective learning was done in the 1990s and published in various papers starting with ‘When two sensory modes are better than one’ (1997).

Worth the read and written with the multimedia world that was then emerging in mind. 

By then I’d already spent a decade in the industry but was lucky to be in a production company that was using first Laser Disc then CD-ROM and DVD to create content – more importantly the senior producer had a postgraduate degree in interactive design from Lancaster University so we weren’t just shooting video for the sake of it. Usually integrated with workbooks, then interactive, blended and part of a programme of study. Often highly technical for the nuclear power industry, then utilities, NHS, banks and motor industries. Video can work in 5 seconds … or in 15 minutes. Sometimes a running length of around 10 minutes would play once various shorter components had been introduced in different ways.

It takes skill and thought to get it right – we’ve all heard of ‘Death by Power Point’ – we used to try to avoid ‘Death by talking head’

These interviews should be used with care – what you want is the voice over explaining actions as they take place with text superimposed where the action takes place – even captions and subtitled can cause a cognitive split, increase mental overload and diminish the effectiveness of the learning experience.

REFERENCE

Tindall-Ford, S, Chandler, P, & Sweller, J 1997, ‘When two sensory modes are better than one’, Journal Of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 3, 4, pp. 257-287, Psyc ARTICLES, EBSCO host, viewed 30 October 201

Web access – lessons from working with disabled athletes and the Open University postgraduate module H810: Accessibility

 

BBC WEB ACCESS

As I am studying H810: Accessibility for disabled students I have naturally become tuned into my environment in a more sensitive way – there is a good deal on the Radio (especially coming through the Paralympics).

I am engaged with disabled swimmers at various times during the week, both those who are able to train in the mainstream groups (physical disability, cerebral palsy, MS – some ‘lesser’ learning impairment) and swimmers who come along to specialist sessions, split between two major and minor categories, though it is immiediately apparent, were you to use say the Disability Categories used in the Olympics that the individual differences are often so great that one would ideally have as many sessions as there are swimmers – we try to have as many coaches and helpers poolside as can be found. Ratios are adjusted according to needs from at most 6:1 but often 2:1 or 1:1. There are always people, guardians, parents and helpers to increase the ratio to 1:2 or 1:3.

The facilities meet accessibility criteria in relation to changing facilities, toilets, hoists and so on. However, I wonder if the pool operator, or the staff on duty, realise how insensitive in how they responded to someone using the disabled lavatory (which has access poolside) when they pulled the emergency cord. A light flashed poolside visible to all swimmers and anyone on the balcony – and then an announcement went out on the tannoy to the entire leisure complex.

‘Assistance required at the disabled toilet. Someone is stuck in’.

Do anyone of us want a dozen or more heads to turn as we are then ‘rescued’.

I bring this up as an indication of the sensitivity required, for anyone. What I have learned so far and know from experience is that people with a disability want access to be in place and obvious so that they can join the mainstream without fuss or favour. The last thing they want is to have a spotlight put on them.

The second issue is with labels and categorises, how with sport and education, depending on the disability, a person is ‘lumped in with all the other disabled swimmers’.

To create access takes time, consideration and the right people – with some training and experience. As a coach I find it is the disabled swimmer who arrives in good time and will listen to ‘notes’ after the swim. It should be considered normal that disabled swimmers take part in ‘mainstream’ training sessions.

THE ROLE PARENTS PLAY

The parents, for the most part (siblings too, both brother and sisters) form the larger part of qualified swimming teachers or helpers working with disabled swimmers – all CRB checked, members of the club, often Level 1 or Level 2 assistant or full swimming teachers who have attended an ASA workshop ‘Swimming for disabled athletes’. I know too from family experience the extraordinary lengths a parent will go to in order to press for what they know is right – ensuring a child with aspergers did NOT get put into mainstream school.

A final observation here, because behaviours in public have to be taught, rather than ‘picked up’ I find the swimmers with learning difficulties extraordinarily polite – with introductions, introducing other swimmers, making conversation and thanking me after the swim. It’s as if in ‘mainstream’ teachers have given up on such things as teaching good manners.

Working with swimmers with educational difficulties

Short Description

An introduction and overview of commonly seen barriers to learning when teaching children.  This presentation explains the conditions, syndromes and disorders and gives strategies for managing the behaviour in a swimming teaching environment. To help non-specialist swimming teachers work with a class containing one or two  children with special needs.  It is intended to assist teachers to recognise some  conditions they may encounter and offers some coping strategies which may enable  the teacher to meet the needs of all the children in the class.

Intergrating disabled swimmers into a mainstream coaching environment

Short Description

To give  coaches a better understanding of coaching disabled swimmers, whose disabilities fir disability swimming and highlight ways that coaching practices can be adapted to ensure that disabled swimmers get the best from training in mainstream clubs.

Integrating Swimmers with a Physical & Sensory Impairment into Mainstream Swimming Lessons

Short Description

To give L1 and L2 teachers an understanding of integrating disabled  swimmers into mainstream swimming lessons and highlight ways that  teaching practices can be adapted to ensure that disabled swimmers get  the best from the learn to swim or school swimming environment.

We all benefit from 1 to 1 coaching -is this what we get from a parent or grandparent?

Who taught you to read, to swim, to ride a bike or cut a branch off a tree? To make an omlette or a cake.

Learning a musical instrument gets the ratios down, so does private tuition. At times I wonder if e-learning instead of aspiring to mimic this one to one relationship is nothing better than an interactive leaflet. Somehow the learner needs to be profiled before they start and the learning tailored, with student analytics an outcome. The e-learning needs to be smart and integrated.

 

My role – e-learning, accessibility an a postgraduate module with the Open University

H810 Activity 1.3

My role and context in education.

Without knowing it or going into teaching I have always found myself inclined to teach – an inclination towards being an educator. (I enjoy being a lifelong learner, always a student of something whether sport, writing, history, drawing and even performance. An interest in video production took me into corporate training, carrying kit around Windscale in my teens, shooting video at university, and learning from a BBC producer and members of the trade association the IVCA until I established myself as a professional director and writer. I have worked on every kind of training video production: health and safety in the nuclear power industry, legal training, driving a 4×4, induction in the Crown Prosecution Service, Asthma Awareness for patients and GPs, IT security and ‘Green’ driving for the Post Office, careers and education choices for 14 year olds, management training and so on. These were usually facilitated and often supported with workbooks. In due course they became interactive and eventually (a backwards step for a decade) migrated to the Web. However, I had no formal understanding of the theory of education, of learning design or of interactive and online learning in particular until starting with the OU.

How these relate to accessibility and online learning.

In many cases creating accessible content is a requirement which in the past meant either the inclusion of subtitles or a signer in vision for those with a hearing impairment or disability. For computer based learning, which in its broadest sense takes in desktops, laptops, tablet and smartphones, with increasing sophistication are we at times restricting access to some if not many disabled people?

What would I like to achieve from the module (H810).

Concluding module to gain the Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) with graduation in 2013.

  1. Practical understanding of the issues.
  2. To help plan how the e–learning we produce meets the requirements of the DDA especially where this is a client request.
  3. Helping to ensure that consideration is given to accessibility at the briefing and design stages and that such efforts are costed then applied as scripts are written and learning designs developed.
  4. Provide support to colleagues when making accessibility a point in e–learning proposal documents.
  5. Informed discussions with disabled people I know (colleagues, friends and swimmers) and what they make of accessibility online provision.
  6. The ‘Montessori’ effect – by thinking how to improve access and communicate more clearly all learners will benefit – the confident e–learning designer may be the one who leaves out the bells and whistles.

Poolside is a stage, coaching is a performance: lessons in management from sports coaching (competitive swimming)

This from Eynsenk & Cattell ‘Personality and individual differences’

I’m reading through my Amateur Swimming Coach, Level 3 Senior Head Coach ASA Level 3 notes, module 5 two years after the event … as I can still submit an assignment by the 22nd June and it’ll be marked; let’s say I got distracted (By postgraduate Masters in Open & Distance Education with the Open University that I have just about completed!)

I’m reading the notes I took attending a day long workshop Sport Psychology with the Ireland Olympic Swimmer Julie Douglas, now a sport scientist doing her PhD having started out with a degree in PE from Loughborough a decade before.

I love that so much of what I did in my recent Open University Module ‘Creativity, Innovation and Change’ relate to personality type and the role it plays.

I have perspectives on this now from education, from business and from sport as well as two years of cognitive behavioural therapy to make me less a hedgehog and more a guinea-pig (my words!)

The largest blended learning event ever!

An introduction to the Olympics at Wembley Arena as part of a crowd of selected volunteers of 10,000. This is what I became part of today picking up my Gamesmaker training pack and attending one of a series of morning or afternoon Jamborees at Wembley Arena. We were asked not to blog the content so I’ll post some pics and satisfy myself with analysing the pedagogy elswhere. Imagine getting this brief? Imagine writing a course knowing that in one go, with one event in mind, 200,000 will read and digest. We’ve come awat with some key guiding points wrapped up in a mnenomic delivered by Eddie Izzard.

The largest blended learning event ever!

An introduction to the Olympics at Wembley Arena as part of a crowd of selected volunteers of 10,000.

This is what I became part of today picking up my Gamesmaker training pack and attending one of a series of morning or afternoon Jamborees at Wembley Arena. W

Imagine getting this brief?

Imagine writing a course knowing that in one go, with one event in mind, 200,000 will read and digest. We’ve come away with some key guiding points wrapped up in a mnemonic delivered by Eddie Izzard.

How do you study if you are both a tutor and a student?

I guess if you are a chemistry tutor and you’re studying e-learning the two are complementary but you cannot, be both tutor and student of the same course (though interestingly this has/is occurring in our module with a tutor absent the OU failing to accommodate).

It’s rather making me think that student as tutor is absolutely possible.

Why not? All it requires is leadership and initiative. I don’t see tutors as subject matter experts. Can you cater for everyone? In communications you need to know your audience. Writers are meant to think of their reader as one person, not millions. How should teachers/tutors think? Of student, or students? Does it matter anymore?

Can we, knowing or indulging ourselves, choose from a plethora of ways into a subject?

I have to wonder, thinking in extremes, why we don’t have tutor groups by gender, by generation, even by profession … let alone our current professional status. Would for example all those working for the armed services benefited from being in a group of their own?

And how do we make such a choice?

Too late if you buy a book, even read a sample, only to find the rest of the content doesn’t deliver.

What about a course?

You pay the fees for a module only to feel or realise a week or so on that it is going to disappoint all the way to the end?

Do you choose by Brand?

Do you choose by awarding body?

And what say do we have?

Can we play-act the model online student?

Would it help to have such an image and then be this person?

Can we assume ourselves into a level of comprehension what we haven’t yet reached and as a result of such aspirations and performance become this more informed and ‘educated’ person?

With an interest and some training in sport and developing young elite athletes I’ve studied Long Term Athlete Development. With a sport, let alone studying, we can group children by gender and biological age. When or where do such groupings or any groupings become difficult to create, or politically incorrect to create? Should not institutions go to greater lengths to group people scientifically?

And to mix these groups up as we go along, if only to change and balanced the learning opportunities?

This is the OU’s show, their party. They are hosting an event, or series of events or have we simply taken a few steps beyond getting a box of books and CDs on the doorstep at the start of a module … to the set of railway tracks that is the like a cartoon, are laid before our eyes as each new week approaches? Who ‘owns’ this course? I get know sense of that, or someone leading. The tutors/authors of the course left years ago. Perhaps this is obvious and given the topic and the speed of change in e-learning is detrimental. I wonder, if given time, more ‘natural’ tutor groupings would form in the national forums of ‘General Discussions’ and the Café from which break-out tutor groups could be constructed (or they do?) I wonder if the solution is in the ways resources are presented, that there need to be multiple ways into a topic. That once size never did fit all.

That ideally we would each have a personal tutor, that all learning would be one to one and tailor to our needs, as they are and as they change … and as we are changed by the process and anything else that is going on around us.

Do we all want a take-away, or a pot-lunch?

The set menu and if so as a school dinner, or from a top restaurant? Home cooking or our own cooking?

Might I say with H800 are getting the ‘set menu,’ i.e. the choice is limited. All I’m discussing here is choice; the next point would be the size of helpings. How do we respond to either being hungry as a wolf (read everything) or not hungry at all (graze nonchalantly doing the bare minimum?) The answer, as I found in H808, was to have plenty of moderated activities in the General Discussion, Café and Supplementary Activity Forums … where like minds could meet, where if you found you had time or wanted to make time, you could get involved in a different group and therefore benefit from an alternative dynamic. I have found that with groups, even more so away from the OU, that are global in scope, that you find groupings that are topic specific and where you can, whenever you like, find a conversation to engage with that adds to your knowledge.

It is a vital part of the learning process I believe, where you form opinions and develop ideas as a result of your engagement, the only issue being that your voice comes out of the tips of your fingers rather than your mouth, which rather suggests we’d all have been better off communicating to our parents and siblings at home via a QWERTY keyboard from an early age so we had these surprisingly necessary skills in place.

Perhaps, as there appears to be so much inclination, whether desire or otherwise, to shift towards the Oxbridge tutorial system as a model, (small tutor groups), might not we also have junior, middle and senior common rooms?

Might we not also have a variety of virtual colleges? And taking just one idea from this … ought we not to have more than one tutor, even within a module, perhaps a different module for each TMA?

Reflections on 12 months of e-learning – roller-coaster or white-water rafting?

How goes it?

Like a roller-coaster, merrily going along, like the C4 ident:through the loops of a roller-coaster though the shapes I see are ‘H’ and ‘800’ and ‘807’ and ‘808’ as I pass by.

Then I switch track and venue and find myself on the Mouse-Trap. Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Here there is a rise and dip where you are convinced you will hit a girder. I just did, metaphorically speaking. (Diary entry, August 1980)

Illness changes things

Nothing more than a rubbish cold made uncomfortable by asthma.

It is a set back of sorts. I can sleep and read. But the spark has gone (for now).

To use a different analogy, if I often think of my mind as a Catherine-wheel, this one has come off and landed in a muddy-puddle.

We’re in the week of metaphors for learning

I can draw on any notes I’ve taken on this here and in my eportfolio. This is more than an aide-memoire, it favours the choices I made before at the expense of anything new. So I widen my search. The OU Library offers hundreds of thousands of references in relation to ‘Education’ and ‘Metaphor’ going back to 1643.

Gathering my thoughts will take time

There are 26 pages (nearly 12,000 words) to read (course intro, resources). Far, far more if I even start to consider ANY of the additional references or reading.

Give me three months. We have, or I have left, three days

My approach is simple. Tackle it on the surface, drill into an author or topic that is of interest and expect to pick up on and pick through this again later this module, later this year … or next existence. (I believe in multiple existences and flux. We are transitory and changing)

As well as tapping into the OU Blog and e-portfolio the blog I’ve kept since 1999 might have something to say on metaphor. If I care to I might even rummage through A’Level English Literature folders from the 1970s, just to trigger something. Engaged and enabled by Vygotsky and others in relation to memory and learning I value this ability to tap into past thoughts/studying with ease.

(Ought others to be sold the idea of a life-long blog?)

Otherwise I have gone from learn to swim in the training pool, to swimming lengths in the main pool … to observer/coach who will participate, but has a towel over his shoulders and is looking around.

The next pool? Where is that?

I’m not the same person who set out on this journey 12 months ago.

On the other hand, having a Kindle makes me feel more like a teenager swotting for an Oxbridge examination; I like having several books on the go. I’ll be through ‘Educational Psychology (Vygotsky) by the end of the day and am already picking through and adding to copious notes.

Piaget next?

Then a little kite-boarding as I head away from the swimming pool that has been an MA with the OU?!

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