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World War 1: Paris 1919 A MOOC from the University of Glasgow
World War 1: Paris 1919 – A New World: University of Glasgow [Three Weeks]
100% Coming out of the MA in British Military History with a Postgraduate Certificate and 60 credits after one year it was good to take part in something carried by a leading academic. A challenge is worth taking on when there is something new to learn and understand. The WW1 theme hooked the interest and most students expected to stay there. Even if off my brief I was nonetheless happy to go the distances stretching out through WW2 and the creation and early history of the United Nations.
WW1 Aviation Comes of Age. A MOOC about British aviation 1911-1951
World War 1: Aviation Comes of Age: University of Birmingham [Three Weeks]
Both more, and less than advertised. Far from sticking to the First World War the course flew away on a gust of enthusiasm in various directions that stretched beyond the Second World War … without really taking off.
|From Jack Wilson MM|
Fig.1 My late grandfather – the period I thought we’d cover was his experience of flight. 1911-1919
100% Coming out of the MA in British Military History with a Postgraduate Certificate and 60 credits after one year shows that I am still passionate about the subject of the First World War, but not how it is taught in a traditional ‘Saturday School’ format: I felt that I was back in the ‘C’ set of my lower-sixth History A’ level. The course tried hard to understand the affordances of learning online in a MOOC and will surely make many changes before it is presented again in the New Year. It rather failed to understand who its audience were: more niche, specialists and some extraordinarily well informed. The WW1 tag drifted rapidly into events between the wars, into WW2 and beyond with very little of the development of aviation offered or explored, except by us students, often in great depth. Its saving grace. It was too much an effort at shoehorning a lacklustre campus-based course of lectures, talks and books with long lists of qualifying but unreadable lists of references attached. The quizzes in particular were awful. Put in with no understand of their purpose or the considerable level expertise required to get these right.
World War 1: Trauma and Memory
Word War 1: Trauma and Memory: The Open University [Three Weeks]
Fig.1. Though I’ve visited many sites of the First World War, this rather poignant stone I came across struck me as the most touching. Though broken we strain to comprehend the scale and nature of national and personal loss.
100% Coming out of the MA in British Military History in September with 60 Credits and a Postgraduate Certificate from the University of Birmingham indicates a desire to understand this era deeper. From the Open University and an historian, Dr Annika Mombauer whose work I greatly admire made this a special, engaging and informed course.
The resources available is overwhelming: catalogues of photographs and archive film bring the First World War home.
From time to time I am faced with finding the most obscure of articles
|From First World War|
Fig.1 Motorbike Ambulance of the First World War
I came across something about the Ambulance Service using motorbikes during the First World War. I then saw a photograph of a motorbike with a sidecar with a set of platforms that would carry two stretchers. The arguments for the use of a motorcycle are made: lighter, quicker, tighter turning circle, use less fuel …
A article is cited. The British Medical Journal, January 1915. A few minutes later via the Open University Online Library I locate and download the article.
It is the speed at which quality research can be fulfilled that thrills me. This article is satisfying in its own right, but glancing at the dozen or more articles on medical practices and lessons from the Front Line are remarkable. We are constantly saved from the detail of that conflict, the stories and issues regurgitated and revisited as historians read what previous historians said without going back to the original source.
This is how a new generation can come up with a fresh perspective on the First World War – instead of a handful of specialist academics burrowing in the paper archives now thousands, even tens of thousands can drill right down to the most pertinent, untampered with content.
|From First World War|
The pleasures of the FutureLearn MOOC: World War 1 Trauma and Memory
Should I return, each time I’ll be happier to stand back and let others find their way. I will have read more, seen more, thought more and written more. If I can help nudge others towards finding their own ‘truth’ I will have done something useful.
Inevitably over the next five years many of us will become imbued with a unique sensibility on the subject. I think my perceptions shift on walks, or in the middle of the night.
TV is a mixed bag, and I’m reluctant to recommend much of it, however I am currently watching ad watching again the brilliantly smart, moving, visualised, engaging ‘War of Word’ Soldier Poets of the Somme which is far broader than the title may suggest – this goes well beyond the obvious to paint a vivid sense of how impressions of violent conflict alter and sicken.
Several of these poets are now forgotten, but celebrated here, as we come to understand how they transitioned from glorification and patriotism on joining up to the ghastly reality. War of Words: Soldier-Poets of the Somme must have been shown on BBC2 in the last week or so – available for a month I think. Very worth while. Expertly done. A variety of approaches. Never dull. Often surprising and some stunning sequences of animations to support readings of short extracts from the poems. And it even tells the story of British Military advances during the period running up to, through and after the Battle of the Somme.
War breeds hate; hate festers and breeds war.
Fig.1 At the war memorial to the Machine Gun Corps (MGC) on Hyde Park Corner, 1991. I’m with my late grandfather – dark suit and beige shoes, fourth in from the right. That’s me on the far left of the line in the glasses holding the standard. (Volunteered about five minutes previously) Marking the 75th Anniversary of the formation of the MGC in 1916.
I’ve just completed fascinating couple of weeks, often gruelling on The OU’s World War 1: Trauma and Memory on the FutureLearn MOOC platform.
My love for The OU is restored. Everyone should pick a course from FutureLearn to understand where learning is being taken. You cannot go wrong with an OU lead and designed one of these – some of the others are re-versioned books, leaflets, extra curricular workshops and lecture series, not embracing the affordances of the platform at all.
An eye opener for anyone studying learning – go over there anyone studying education.
At the end of each week, which officially run for the five working days of the week, we are invited to reflect on the lessons learnt. A very significant part of this are the ‘massive’ conversations that follow each ‘activity’.
A week of looking at and contemplating the dead from violent conflict I conclude that ‘war breeds hate; hate festers and breeds war.’ Unless the population is wiped out, or dived between the conquerors. Or unless the conquerors stay put – the Normans eventually subjugated England and Scotland and 1000 years on some of them still rule and own the land.
Responses to hatred are diametrically opposed: forgiveness and peace, blame and violent conflict. Has humankind moved on that far from the tribalism of one or two millennia ago? If young men, the typical combat soldier truly understood what could happen to them would they still go? It applies to every kind of risk, and testosterone fuelled it is more of a male thing? This willingness to take outrageous risks believing that it ‘won’t happen to them’. And of course, commemorating ‘our glorious dead’ and ‘returning heroes’ risks celebrating war rather than being a period of reflection and commemoration. A veteran of WW1 my grandfather never used the term ‘heroic’. Do young people joining up think that if nothing else, wounded, or dead in a coffin, they will at least come back ‘a hero’ – making it OK? And yet, however frightful, violent conflict remains a way that peoples, people, cultures attempt to resolve their differences.
It’ll continue until the world’s resources and ‘life chances’ – are fairly distributed. I feel the awakening of a burgeoning political sensibility that may wobble towards republicanism and socialism.
Timeline tool in 2D and 3D
|From E-Learning V|
Fig.1. Kent & Medway’s Timeline of the Great War
Made with Tiki-toki
And someone’s wonderful creation
Facts in an essays are like pepper in soup
|From E-Learning V|
Fig.1. Facts in an essays are like pepper in soup
How do you compare and mark a variety of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)?
We need to treat them like one of those challenges they do on Top Gear, where Jeremy Clarkson – Richard Hammond – James May set off to Lapland in a Reliant Robin or some such and then get marks across six or so criteria. Hardly scientific, but it splits the pack.
So, let’s say we take THREE MOOCs, what criteria should there be?
- Commitment. What percentage of participants signing up complete the course?
- Comments. I use the word ‘vibrancy’ to judge the amount and nature of activity in the MOOC, so this is crudely reduced to the number of comments left.
- Likes. Another form of vibrancy where comments left by the team and by participants are ‘liked’. It has to be a measure of participation, engagement and even enjoyment
- Correct answers. Assuming, without any means to verify this, that participants don’t cheat, when tested are they getting the answers right. This is tricky as there ought to be a before and after test. Tricky to as how one is tested should relate directly to how one is taught. However, few MOOCs if any are designed as rote learning.
You could still end up, potentially, comparing a leaflet with an Encyclopaedia. Or as the Senior Tutor on something I have been on, a rhinoceros with a giraffe.
It helps to know your audience and play to a niche.
It helps to concentrate on the quality of content too, rather than more obviously pushing your faculty and university. Enthusiasm, desire to impart and share knowledge, wit, intelligence … And followers with many points of view, ideally from around the globe I’ve found as this will ‘keep the kettle bowling’. There is never a quiet moment, is there?
I did badly on a quiz in a FutureLearn Free Online Course (FOC). World War 1. Paris 1919. A new world order …
I think I got half right. I chose not to cheat, not to go back or to do a Google search; what’s the point in that. I haven’t taken notes. I wanted to get a handle on how much is going in … or not. Actually, in this context, the quiz isn’t surely a test of what has been learnt, but a bit of fun. Learning facts and dates is, or used to be, what you did in formal education at 15 or 16. This course is about issues and ideas. A ‘test’ therefore, would be to respond to an essay title. And the only way to grade that, which I’ve seen successfully achieved in MOOCs, is for us lot to mark each others’ work. Just thinking out loud. In this instance the course team, understandably could not, nor did they try, to respond to some 7,000 comments. They could never read, assess, grade and give feedback to a thousand 4,000 word essays. Unless, as I have experienced, you pay a fee. I did a MOOC with Oxford Brookes and paid a fee, achieved a distinction and have a certificate on ‘First Steps in Teaching in Higher Education’.
As facts are like pins that secure larger chunks of knowledge I ought to study such a FutureLearn FOC with a notepad; just a few notes on salient facts would help so that’s what I’ll do next week and see how I get on. Not slavishly. I’ll use a pack of old envelopes or some such For facts to stick, rather than ideas to develop, the platform would have needed to have had a lot of repetition built into it. Facts in an essays are like pepper in soup.
Armed with an entire module on research techniques for studying e-learning – H809: Practice-based research in educational technology – I ought to be able to go about this in a more academic, and less flippant fashion.