Start writing fiction: a free MOOC through FutureLearn with The OU

From E-Learning V

Fig.1 Something I wrote 40 years ago ! (age 13)

The last five weeks I’ve been following the FutureLearn MOOC ‘Start Writing Fiction’.

Extraordinary. I’m on my second pass. I came through early, and now return not wanting to get ahead of the conversation. Particularly useful as I am actively writing at the moment, so this is the best of all learning because it is applied. Regarding character it about giving them shape, depth and ‘points of interest’ – more 6D than even the 2D we are asked to get away from. I visualise characters as hedgehogs with many prickles, but only a few of these matter to the story – though all of them matter to the notebook which I’m gradually coming to care about more and more, cursing the times I ‘have a thought’ and don’t get it down somewhere safely. I am hugely pleased to be here and very proud to be an OU graduate already – not, sadly, from this faculty: yet!

I’m finding the oddest of balances in my life too:

  • Writing for myself from 4.00am to 8.00am.
  • Picking up work from 10.00am.
  • Evenings from 5.00pm to 9.00pm

I am often ‘poolside’ teaching or coaching swimmers.

Delighting yesterday evening to be back with some squad swimmers I last saw four years ago – now in the mid teens, some achieving amazing things in the water, all at that gangly stage of youth development my own children have come through in the last year.

The issue then is how or where or why I fit in the OU module L120 I committed to. Learning a language is daunting and outside my comfort zone. What I do know now, not surprisingly, is that all learning comes about as a result of concerted and consistent effort over a long period of time.

From E-Learning V

Delightfully explained here. 

Offered as an Open Education Resource (OER) easily shared through Twitter and Facebook. Come on, let’s speak French like the French  and not Ted Heath :)

And some wonderfully expressed and illustrated that we’ve made it into a party game at home. My wife is word-perfect having gone to a French-speaking school for a year age 13 in Canada. She always picks me up on the ‘r’ – maybe I can finally crack this.

Not easy.

I had elocution lessons as a boy age 7 as I couldn’t manage my ‘Rs’ in English, let alone the greatest challenge.

Brilliant. Wonderfully put and comprehensive.

Pilates for the British tongue. I still can’t quite manage ‘Bruno’ though – something about the mouth position for the ‘B’ to the ‘R’ – currently the equivalent of trying to do a standing backflip.

Thank you. L120 Team smile

P.S. Also the most charming way to learn how to say ‘tongue’ with a French accent smile

Language learning with augmented reality

From E-Learning V

Ce que je voudrais utiliser est la ‘réalité augmentée’. Soit à l’aide de quelque chose comme ‘Google Glass,’ le mot pour quelque chose en français pourrait se superposer automatiquement sur tout ce qu’on regard.

From E-Learning V
From H818 EMA

Ou, quelque chose qu’on peut faire aujourd’hui serait de mettre un QR Code sur les objets autour de la maison et quand on prend un « téléphone intelligent » comme un iPhone, on verrait le mot en français devant le QR code.

From E-Learning V

Mais, pour l’instant on pourrait utiliser quelque chose comme Rosetta Stone. On est se montré des objets quotidiens et il faut qu’on les nomme jusqu’à ce qu’on peut la faire correctement toujours. Cool smile

From E-Learning V

Fig.1. Pronunciations around the globe

Learning French with The OU I am finding the toughest task is to kill my British accent. I’ve been using Rosetta Stone too. There are certain words with combinations of letters that fox the English tongue.

You know you’re mastering French, for example, when you can differentiate between the subtleties of ‘de’ and ‘deux’. Do you want some croissants or two? You think you are saying you want two, they think you are saying some, they ask you how many, you repeat ‘some’ and you resolve the problem by holding up your fingers. ‘Trois’ and ‘quatre’ may flumox your British tongue too, so you perhaps go in wanting two of a thing, and end up asking for five, as ‘cinq’ is far easier on the English tongue. You then hide or eat the spare three croissants on the way back to the campsite?

As I’m working with the written and the spoken word and I’m used to Googling everything I was delighted to come across a website that purports to help you correctly pronounce anything.

I was toying with words such as ‘Victoire’ and who wouldn’t get their tongue tied with ‘Hesdigneul.’ This has to do with the FutureLearn Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) ‘Start Writing Fiction’ that I’m using to galvanise my writing once and for all … the trend is good, in ‘Write a novel in a month’ I’m on course to complete at the end of November. 

The ‘grin from ear to ear’ fun came when I looked up ‘Bruno’. 

I had a French friend in my teens called ‘Bruno’ and I could not, for the life of me get his name right. It always sounded like Bruno, as in ‘Frank Bruno’, the name you’d give to a bloodhound as it is so droopy. In French ‘Bruno’ is perky like a sharp dig in the ribs.

What this site does is it gives you sixty versions of how ‘Bruno’ is pronounced all over the world. Click on the UK, then somewhere in France and you’ll see what I mean.

I laughed even more when I put my own name in, to hear ‘Jonathan’ said in a Swedish, Taiwanese, American, French and German accent.

Go on, give it a go! smile

French tongue twisters are doubly troubling for the English tongue

From E-Learning V

 Fig.1. Un chasseur sachant : a tongue-twister in French

I just stumbledupon this fun, fun, fun way to pick up some fresh French vocabulary AND with some exceedingly difficult tongue twisters to take your mouth to the gym – very necessary if you are to pronounce much correctly in French. After three minutes of these you’ll feel as if you’ve been chewing the entire packet of ten sticks of Wrigleys’ Spearmint Gum simultaneously.

Web Sciences – faster, rich, responsive, shared …

Life happened at the opening of the MOOC on Web Sciences from the University of Southampton (SOTON)  – the imminent arrival of a great-grand child is announced while two in their late 80s make their departures, one with little warning, the other with a reluctant move to hospital.

Born in 1928 or to be born in 2014 …

Keen as I am on ancestry I try to reflect on what has and is changing.

How great in truth is or will be the impact on how we live, love and die? Of course the frenetic, massive Web impacts on the neuronal activity in individual brains feeding us with knowledge, news, information and misinformation like never before, but how much does it change the intimacy of a family, of childhood and education, of working and falling in love, of starting a family of your own (or not) and beyond?

The Web, like a strange digital mist now surrounds us – but in the Darwinian sense does it change anything at all?

Words of a distraught young woman from the Philippines coming out of the recent typhoon smack you in your digital face when she starts with ‘no Internet, not smart phone, no food, no water, no roof on our heads, no medicine … ‘ We will surely reflect on that fact that for all the opportunities the Web it is exclusive and fickle.

Yet it is the speed and ease by which this information is disseminated that changes things. I remember the Japanese Typhoon that I watched on multiple TV channels calling to my son who was watching the same online directly from people’s smart phones.

The new arrival mentioned above was posted on Facebook, the ‘departure’ was a call to a mobile phone. Both will feature online to welcome to the world or to reflect on a long life and commiserate.

Reading ‘Red Nile: a biography of the world’s greatest river’ – a gem

At times you laugh out loud, always informative, great stories, full of well-known facts with a twist, as well as a myriad of gems. The kind of book I would have bought and sent to people for the pleasure of it … not sure how that works with an eBook. If Michael Palin had got stuck in Egypt for six years, without the film crew, he might have made a stab at it. I described Robert Twigger to my wife as Michael Palin’s mischievous younger brother. (I know Robert, though I’ve not seen him for twenty years). He’s exceedingly bright but very modest, even humble. A boffin you might find going through second-hand books in a pile at a charity shop.

There’s an intimacy, cleverness and a flash of British funniness throughout. Encyclopedic whilst as readable as an unputdownable novel.

For me this is the very best travel writing. I’ve bounced into it via a need to take an interest in ethnography in H809 Practice-based research in e-learning. I found myself watching ‘Seven Years in Tibet’ then reading the book by Heinrich Harer. ‘The Red Nile’ is written in a similar vein, though Robert’s relationship is with the river and not the Dalai Lama. The book touches on a good deal of anthropological study of the peoples of the Niles (blue and white). It’s value is how easy it is to read after all the academic papers, and how quotable and informed it is too.

‘It seems peculiar to me that specialisation should involve developing a point of view that obscures the very subject you wish to study’.

This is I will take as a warning as I venture towards doctoral study. My interest is in learning, and e-learning in particular. Learning can apply to many, many fields. We all do it whether we want to or not.