The theatre of war in which the male audience do the dying

Weird ways to learn

Bit by bit I am consuming the hefty 2013 tome – ‘The Origins of the First World War: Diplomatic and military documents. Edited and translated by Annika Mombauer.

This is while away from home on a ‘reading week’ – ehem, impromptu exploitation of amazing snow conditions in the French Alps. From 9h30 to 17h00 I ski – guided by the Ski Club of Great Britian. Shattered and exhilerated and needing nothing more to eat after food ‘on the piste’ I start to read.

Old School, appropriate for a hardback book, I mark passages with a Postit; when these run out – I came with 16 or so in the book, I stop, take out a pack of Rolledex cards and write these up. The book comprises an introduction, then a set of documents, in chronological order, leading to the various declarations of war. Reading the infamous notes that Kaiser Wilhelm II left on the despatches he received is revealing, as are the multitude of exchanges between the Foreign Ministers of the key players: Austria-Hungary, Serbia, Russia, Great Britain and France and their respective ambassadors, and national leaders: Prime Ministers, Presidents, Kaisers and Tzars. My interest is our Foreign Minister Sir Edward Grey, the cabinet and his plenapetentiaries, and his direct dealings with key ambassadors. These documents cut through and explain or reveal the obfuscation and spin that started in 1914 and continued for many decades afterwards.

A ‘country’ cannot be blamed – a geographical space is inanimate and its people too disenfranchised and indifferent; we can however blame specific people for aggitating for war and then failing to prevent its outbreak – where I adopt this approach I mean in each case one, two or a handful of people in that country who held, managed or influenced the decision making and therefore had a lot or a modicum of power. Britain was a cabinet with Grey the key player; France was an array of people in the Foreign Ministry and the President; Germany had to be the Kaiser and military rather than civil leaders, Austria-Hungary not the Emperor, but ministers and military, Russia the Foreign Ministes, ambassadors and military with the Tszar largely acting to please while Serbia, most democratic of all (?) was the President Pasic who at this time was distracted by election campaigning. Christopher Clark is wrong to suggest that the leaders of the six major players were ‘sleepwalkers’ : Great Britain was dragged, Russia mobilized, Serbia froze and crossed its finger, Austria-Hungary was up for it and being egged on by Germany. This is at the micro-level: telegrams and conversations. At the macro-level Imperialism in its differing manifestations and geographical locations is collapsing (Ottoman Empire in the Balkans and beyond into the Middle East), the British Empire as an established, civil-service and military managed Goliath with a constitutional monarch and influential cabinet, while France and the USA (not yet featuring in the world affairs of 1914) were still in the business of acquistion – Germany also, but with billigerant military leaders and a kaiser who held power who was determined that he should be front of stage in world affairs whether as a great peacemaker or a great warlord. At the macro-level the equally powerful force of nacent nationhood inside or at the edges of these empires is causing multiple fractures under techtonic plates that are already sliding: emerging from the first and second Balkan Wars, Serbia is the catalyst by 1914 that brings in first one, then another ‘Great Power’ – Russia ostensibly to defend slav brothers, and Germany to back an ally Austria-Hungary that didn’t know which way to move for certain until given a few shoves by a couple of people in Germany.

Why did war break-out in 1914? The hawks in various camps tore at diplomacy with gusto while the doves cooed and at no time could or would the right hawks and doves meet. In this respect one of the Kaiser’s marginalia was tellingly accurate when he cried off any kind of conference – committees play into the hands of the most timid. The conferences proposed by Sir Edward Grey may well have prevented war, or delayed and localised the conflict. But for how long? And should such speculation be used in any historical arguement anyway?

We can narrow it down: had Wilhelm II been of firmer and more consitent mind rather than tipping from war to peace his words would have left Austria-Hungary to deal with events on its troubled borders. It wasn’t for Grey to either keep his hand close to his chest visave acting with France and Russia or declaring it – an absolute commitment to act would have goaded a paranoid and largelly prepared Germany sooner while neutrality far from pasifying Germany would have told them that the field was theirs. Grey was caught between a rock and a hard place and in the privileged position of sitting at the top of the decision making tree in an established, stable and still sucessfully expanding empire.

I fall asleep at 18h30 and wake two or three hours later my dreamworld infested by these characters, these players in a Shakespearesn tragedy that instead of seeing the blood on the stage, decimates and maims a sizeable part of the audience that like the Globe on a summer’s evening is made up of people not from six countries, but from 36. The bloodbath is in the yard not in the gallery.

 

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Posted in Dream Bursts, History, Learning, Tertiary Education, WW1

A response to any challenge: it takes time, experience, risk and a sense of what you are capable of

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Fig.1 The only time I ever got down this preciptous drop in one go, falling the fall line, was as a fit and by then experienced skier. It took eight years, a badly smashed leg, both thumbs and a rib. It is thirty years since I have been in the flat we used then – this is the view from the window. I have no intentions of getting any closer than this. Instead I will join the Ski Club of Great Britain Guide and in so doing learn from others and remain in one, unbroken piece.

My H818

Though I completed the MAODE last year I didn’t feel like a ‘master’ – further modules as continual professional development have realised this: H809 for research and H818 for applying and sharing in an open and ‘directed’ way. My background is a producer in corporate L&D so the aim has been to support the shift from linear to interactive, to connected and open learning founded on applied knowledge of a number of learning theories.

H818 pulled together or touched on a number of personal interests:

Can creativity be taught or managed online?
What are the parameters, pitfalls and potential of open learning?
Recognition not just of an interface between online and ‘offline’ learning, but the blended mix where lessons from either world can inform the other.

There’s a difference beteen open (small ‘o’) and Open (large O): the latter, as I have done over 14 years posting content, is akin to ‘exposure’ – putting it all out there; whereas the Open movement to be effective, ironically, requires parameters and goals. From H818 the need to, reasons to and how to ‘ask’ became apparent.

The outcome of H818 is the Quick Response code in a Poppy to support open and connected learning about the First World War. As a creatvie exercise despite being unable to single out a ‘partner’ the working process has been akin to that in advertsing where the creative team is a copywriter and a visualiser, with one if these or both likely to have programming skills – or the creative team becomes three. Openstudio online is like the studio I worked in at the School of Communications Arts where I was a student and now mentor.

The ask component has two parts to it:

I post then share blog posts on the QR Code idea via WordPress and a number of platforms: Linkedin, Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Stumbleupon. This at best makes serendipity a possibility but is small ‘o’ – though the connections directly from this inlcude BBC TV, BBC Radio 4, the national trust, King’s College London and a couple of people with direct, personal connection to the content I have posted – they recognise a face from a 1918 postcard.

The second part is, still early days, putting the idea to individuals and groups directly and asking questions that I take care to recognise where they are forthcoming. Using the above social platforms the request is directed at an individual, or to a specific specialist group. The ‘use of QR codes’ in education has uncovered far greater use and interest than the current papers suggest. Direct questions have gone to niche interest groups such that ‘talks’ on the use of QR codes in this way will be given to schools and to regional history associations. Not all that I approach have responded – this kind of ‘ask’ is a kind of selling or PR. It isn’t simply connectedness, it is networking too that expects a professional offering and response. ‘Consultancy’ is one thing, but the production side of it – seeing content successfully briefed in, financed, designed, scripted and delivered is my aim and so with tentative steps ‘Mindbursts’ is coming to fruition and will build on some 15 years of creating learning content in the corporate sector.

The second outcome of H818 is to try and continue and build on the relationships that were developed. In Linkedin two groups have been set up: ‘The online masters’ and ‘MAODE’ – early days, but experience from the Open University Business School shows how from tiny beginnings great things can grew. The challenge in the early days will be to keep the kindle alight so that there is just enough ‘vibrancy’ to make it a worthwhile place for current and future members. Similary, a blog where all members have ‘editor’ rights has been set up.

Returning to the idea of big ‘O’ and little ‘o’ it strikes me that my little ‘o’ behaviour is akin to being loudly in a crowd while big ‘O’ requires directed engagement and responsiveness. Which has me wondering that a journalist writing for a paper with its parameters and audience is more open than hiding behind the obfuscation of the blog. Which in turn, as has occured throughout H818 has seen me completing a huge loop into an online world of the possible to the offline world of the actual and realising that quicker than I imagined learning is increasingly blended whether you put an ‘e’ or an ‘o’ or an ‘m’ in front of it.

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Posted in Blogging, Chris Pegler, Creativity, E-Learning, H809: Practice-based research in educational technology, H818: The Networked Practitioner, Learning, MA in Open & Distance Education, The Open University

Learning at the speed of desire

I have this idea that motivation matters. That the ‘desire’ to learn is part of it, and that to ‘love your learning’ is even better – whatever drives that love.

As Vladimir Nabakov said, “It’s a matter of love; the more you love a memory the stronger that memory becomes.”

Do you ‘love’ what you are studying? Even a little bit? Sometimes? Very rarely indeed I have sat an exam and loved it.

‘Mindbursts’ has been the name I’ve blogged under since 2002. I recently got the .com website and and wondering what to do with it.

The above, to certain educators, probably in higher education, and possibly only academics, puts a doodle of Activity Theory between the heart and two minds meeting. My thinking is that two minds and collaboration is good – though talking to yourself probably counts given how the conscious and unconscious brain works. My thinking is that love of a subject – lust for it, desire for it, motivation to conquer all, to achieve goals, to overcome adversity is in the mix. And like any love affair you can fall in and out of love! Or have impetuous flings. Or have a long lasting deep affection for a subject. While Activity Theory, becoming a little old school, studies the interconnectedness of nodes of interest and action in groups or communities of people – used to problem solve businesses and organisations, yet for me representative of what goes on in a brain – the multiple connections between parts of the brain that interact with another’s brain to generate new stuff. Maybe I’ve got my mental knickers in twist and should be thinking of networking theory instead? Ooops.

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Posted in Creativity, E-Learning

Semantic search will help find hidden knowledge in education and more

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mymindbursts:

Just what I’ve been looking for? Or imagining? If nothing else it should feed into the TV Play of mine ‘The Contents of My Mind’ that the BBC Script Department rejected in 2007 – about a young woman who goes into a coma after a car accident and whose memories are ‘restored’ courtesy of some crude AI.

Originally posted on Gigaom:

After a car accident and subsequent coma ended up leaving her in a senior citizen’s home having to relearn how to do everything, Ramona Pierson, co-founder and CEO and Declara , had an epiphany that led to her to found and build a semantic search company. The technology behind Declara helps people discover esoteric and hard-to-find information.

In a conversation at Structure Data in New York on why the future of search is semantic, Pierson explained that so far Declara has been used in education, pharmaceuticals and manufacturing industries, where a lack of knowledge transfer between employees could result in death. Places like oil rigs or in cement manufacturing plants, for example.

Pierson also mentioned that Declara is being used for judicial reform in Latin America to help retrain an entire police force and judiciary by conveying new concepts across disparate regions and via methods that are tailored to each…

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Posted in voice

Professor Gilly Salmon talks us through her Five Stages of e-learning

Fig. 1 Prof Gilly Salmon on Scaffolding for her Five Stages of Learning (c) Swinburne University of Technology 2014

Five levels, fifteen components
Keeping students engaged all the way through.

The building blocks or ‘scaffolding’ – perhaps Mecanno would have done the trick?

Stage 1: Familiarisation

1) Green Cube - People must have access to your platform to get in and motivation. May be issues to start with over technical access. Don’t need to know everything about the platform you are using, but they do need to be able to get in time and time again.
2) Blue Cylinder – e-moderator. Human intervention. Welcome. Support. Provide motivation to go on. To facilitate delivery of a successful learning experience. Don’t try to teach them anything yet.
3) Yellow Plank – Learning to take part, learning to log on and learning to come back frequently.

Stage 2: The start of online socialisation

Culture building and building your own little learning set.

4) Green Plank - technology environment part: not all the features, but how to navigate around and respond to others: not all the features, how to take part.
5) Blue Cube - e-moderator. A host at a cocktail party. Introductions. Basic needs satisfied.

Learning in three ways:

6a) Yellow Cube - Forming a team, getting to know others.
6b) Yellow Cube - Familiar with why they are working inline for this course.
6c) Yellow Cube - Some idea of what is coming up that is relevant for the course they are studying – don’t give them anything hard to do.

Stage 3: Information exchange

Get learners working together, exchanging known information they can bring or information that they can find.

7) Yellow Plank – e-tivity design to enable them to take part, navigate around, familiar by now.
really good e-tivities
8) Green Plank – links are working, can navigate around, feel familiar with the environment by now.
9) Blue Cube – really good e-tivities and have a presence.

Stage 4: Knowledge construction

10a/b) Yellow Columns - Constructing new knowledge
11) Green Bridging Piece – Everyone is taking part and everyone has a clear role
12) Blue Plank - e-moderator – do rather less …. gently, gently with feedback extremely important

Stage 5: benefit from looking back before looking forward

A bit of meta-cognition.
The role they have taken, what went on …

15) Green Triangle - a bit of technology (submitting assessments)
14) Red – Assessment or summative assessment
13) Blue Cube – back and forth through the online. course

For online or blended courses.

This video describes the scaffolding stage for the 5 stage model created by Professor Gilly Salmon. This is part of the Carpe Diem video collection via Scaffolding for learning (Carpe Diem MOOC).

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Posted in e-Assessment, E-Learning, e-Moderating, Learning, Learning Design, MOOCs, Scaffolding, Team Building, Tertiary Education

My MAODE

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

H807: Innovations in eLearning – Learning outcomes

H800: Technology-enhanced learning: practices and debates

B822: Creativity, Innovation and Change

H808: The e-learning professional

H810: Accessible online learning: supporting disabled students

This completes the Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE)

Taken in addition as continual professional development

H809 Practice-based research in educational technology

H818: The Networked Practitioner

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Posted in H800: Technology Enhanced Learning - practices and debates, H807: Innovations in E-Learning, H808: The E-Learning Professional, H809: Practice-based research in educational technology, H810: Accessible Online Learning, H817: Openness and innovation in E-Learning, H818: The Networked Practitioner, MA in Open & Distance Education

Augmented Reality Livens up Museums

Augmented Reality Livens up Museums.

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Posted in E-Learning, Innovations

An ethnographic look at how people behave online in virtual worlds compare to who they are in the real world

I went to Oxford to attend a lunchtime lecture hosted by the Oxford Internet Institute and the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology – anyone can attend.

I stumbled upon the talk, I asked, they said come along.

Everyone else was an OII doctoral research student.

My interest was in the explorative method, a reminder of how anthropologists study ‘in the field’ and as much as anything else its an opportunity to talk to and meet people with similar interests.

Three years online and if I continue it will be lectures and face to face – or blended.

I gave myself three hours to get there – just as well as there were accidents on both the M23 and M25. Coming back … more accidents, a 40 mile tailback. I pulled into a service station for 90 minutes sad

The M25 was designed as a river, it’s turned into a glacier.

Dr William Kelly is Research Associate at the School of Anthropology and Museum Studies and Professor at the School of Global Studies, Tama University (Tokyo). He gave a talk on what he is learning about Japanese Virtual Worlds by talking to the creators of specialist niche environments for Japanese people.

QUESTIONS

How to study expressions of culture in a virtual space.

THEMES

Started to think about questions on:

  • expression of identity/self–hood –self–presentation,
  • fashion/adornment, body type.
  • concepts of utilization of space, as building things – how after work group socializing, what some of patterns do they replicate.
  • patterns of social interaction

Culturally specific venues and services – Japan for Japanese, Non–Japanese for Japan, and enthusiasts.

ISSUES

Identifying field sites

Handling offline and online – Japanese write nothing of their offline world.

Ethical

Protection of privacy and permissions.

METHODOLOGY

Company visits and interviews

Contacting producers, visit Tokyo

What is their business in Second Life.

How do they contact and interact with consumers

FINDINGS

People who are very well socialised in the online world, and well socialised in the offline world, which is where my interest took me. (Anthropologist). i.e field study.

Are people being themselves or schizophrenic online … and where is the development of the person occurring? Between the two? WK thinks between the two. Many typing v fast, not speaking. Like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever? Are deceptions successfully played out in VW.

A given in Second Life that everyone is an avatar. Everything is a pseudonym. e.g. an architect in real life who is extremely active and fast in Second Life too. Some have a strong professional engagement, for others it is clearly escape from hard lives.

Two Virtual Worlds (VW) were studied and two specialist creators of content for these VWs. The worlds were the Japanese world within Second Life and a VW recreation of Tokyo called ‘MeeToo’.

It was a lesson in Japanese culture, mannerisms, personalities and behaviours.

Japanese did not like the orientation part of Second Life and were quickly put off. The first company built an alternative that would suit Japanese rather than US sensibilities.

The answer has been to mimic online the most detailed of Japanese habits, from how they greet and how they gesture, to recreate in.

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Posted in E-Learning, H809: Practice-based research in educational technology, Learning, Life, The Open University

Death in the Ypres salient

Had the public seen, and seen repeatedly, what death looked like between 1914 and 1918 perhaps the public outcry would have brought it to an early end. Or not. The dead then are the cartridge empties of today. Beyond comprehending the opportunities of open learning and the theory behind the processes that occur we as ‘educators’ still need to deliver content, to create an event, put on a show, get attention, set the tone for a programme of work. Martin Weller thinks that being media savvy is to add some downloaded graphics or snapshots to a slide, actually, the art and skill of communication as anyone in advertising will tell you is far more able to leave an impression. Making a bar of soap interesting is a challenge, making war interesting should be easy so long as you stick to what attracts interest: fighting and death. Three decades listening to my grandfather and I can only now take on board what it must have been like to be stuck, repeatedly, in a confined space, in harms way, with a buddy or two at your side, horribly wounded and slowly dying. 75 years after these events my grandfather returned to the very spot where this occurred and he broke down to think how they died, and why they died and the lives they never had but deserved, let along the wife and kids one left behind. He never recovered from that trip and died himself a few months later – it was as if death had touched him to the soul and after 97 years he could put it off no longer. The art of George Leroux comes to mind – horrific, gutsy, ante-war, hell on earth.

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Posted in death, E-Learning

Of what value is a diary?

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It’s a good job we don’t all keep lifelong diaries, although Tony Benn’s from age 33 to 83 covering a life on politics must be of greater value and interest to most. My diary age 13 to 33 in contrast covers some tender and messy years – the process had been anything other than transforming. Why am I as I am rather than  how do I change.

These days we are all life logging if we have a life on line – there are a thousand touchpoints, especially photographic that give you that chance to look back and reflect.

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Posted in Blogging
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