words

Making sense of the complexities of e-learning

Wordle

And is visualised in many ways, Engestrom (2007) <img src=" mce_href=" mce_src="http://learn.open.ac.uk/ mce_href="Mycorrhizae thinks in term of fungi.

My own take is a lichen:

The language you use carries with it connotations and hidden assumptions. You need to make things as clear and as explicit as possible to develop shared meaning and understanding to avoid confusion. Conole (2011:404) Indeed. Conole in one sentence manages several metaphors:

· Different lenses

· Digital landscape

· Navigate through this space

So we’ve go camera lenses/how the eye sees, we have a landscape that has a physical presence, where a digital one does not and then we have an image of a Tall Ship on an ocean passing through this landscape (or at least I do). You might see a GPS device, a map and compass on a the Yorkshire Fells. Language creates images in our minds eye. The danger of a metaphor is when it creates parameters or absolutes.

I find it problematic that descpite the tools around us we are obliged to communicate with words. We could use images, we can use live audio, but we are yet to construct and respond to these activites with a piece to webcam.

Conole and Oliver mention four levels of description:

1. Flat vocabulary

2. More complex vocabulary

3. Classification schemas or models

4. Metaphors

Which is the most persuasive? The most effective and memorable?

This set of words is used to describe cloudworks. Only the last stands out as pertinent to Web 2.0 and the kinds of apt terms for e-learning 2011.

  • Practice
  • Design
  • Case study
  • Resource
  • Design template
  • Link to site
  • Request for advice
  • Evolving dialogue

Metaphors are indeed ‘powerful ways of meaning making’. (Conole. 2011.406)

Ref: Metaphors we live by. Lakoff and Johnson (1980)

Over the last 18 months I have returned repeatedly to the importance and value of metaphors, drawing on neuroscience and literature. There are 28 entries in which metaphor is discussed. This is perhaps the most insightful as it draws on an article in the New Scientist.

Morgan’s Metaphors discussed by Conole, White and Oliver (2007)

1. Machines

2. Brains

3. Organisms

4. Cultures

5. Political systems

Whatever works for you, but importantly, what you can use that is comprehended by others.

Presenting on Social Media over the last few weeks I have repeatedly used images of the Solar System to develop ideas of gravity and magnitude, spheres of influence and impacts. It is one way to try and make sense of it. The other one I use is the water-cycle, but as that can turn into an A’ Level geography class.

Some futher thoughts from Conole

‘These and other tools are beginning to enable us to embed more meaning in the objects and connections within the digital space. The tools can also be used to navigate through the digital space, providing particular narrative paths of meaning to address different goals or interests.’ (Conole, 2011:409)

‘The approach needs to shift to harnessing the networked aspects of new technologies, so that individuals foster their own set of meaningful connections to support their practice, whether this be teachers and seeking connections to support them in developing and delivering their teaching, or learners in search of connections to support and evidence of their learning. (Conole. 2011:410)

‘Those not engaging with technologies or without access are getting left further and further behind. We need to be mindful that the egalitarian, liberal view of new technologies is a myth; power and dynamics remain, niches develop and evolve. Applications of metaphorical notions of ecology, culture and politics can help us better understand and deal with these complexities. (Conole. 2011:410)

How do we describe and make sense of digital environments?

It is complex and multifaceted

21 ways to persuade others to blog

I should add what research is showing, the obvious really, that ‘like minds’ aggregate around each other’s blogs. The paper is called ‘Birds of a Feather’.

Reference

Birds of a Feather: How personality influences blog writing and reading. (2010) Jami Li and Mark Chignell. Science Direct. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 68 (2010) 589-602
 
 

Finding meaning across the fluid and complex world of e-learning

H800 wk23 a Activity 2

Stepping over the edge

‘A key characteristic of these new technologies is “learning by doing” – users need to be immersed in and “play with” the affordances that these new digital environments offer, and hence over time get a sense of how they can change practice.’ Conole (2011:403)

MY STUDENT BLOG AS A WORDLE

Whilst I may highlight and annotate, doing do on paper isn’t the easiest way to share; using a screen reader is worse because I find myself not enjoying having the obvious affordances, such as cut and paste, disabled.

I have an iPad to learn from it and to share what I discover.

It is both the angle and the devil on my shoulder.

Does it super-size my mind?

It thrills and engages it, indulges and expands, but also risks loosing me in its labarynthine tangles.

Saved for now by a To Do list that I refresh and follow.

But then I find an idea from Conole (see above) that is key.

The internet is a trip to the sea, it is somewhere to play and discover.

We may require Lifeguards and laneropes but it remains largelly an environment that can only be understood through engagement.

You will get you face wet,you may get bitten by a crab.

To share this thinking I must go online, and cannot help myself.  For the last three months I click through Linkedin, reading and responding.

For the next three it may be Stumbleupon, which through tricks and traits I find increasingly insightful, feeding me like a favourite aunt or uncle , the weirdness of the http://www. ;

Serendipity would be a better word for it. 

I am rewarded by 25 minutes of browsing with ‘new finds’ that becomes stuff that I recommend which in turn obliges me to update my profile, might I even say ‘brand tag’ the finds as ‘mymindbursts’. (I need two days off to take stock and write up some ten ore more blog entries.

Draft I know will do, from my experience as a diarist, just enough to trigger a more expansive and reflecive entry)”.

To remind myself:

Monday 11th

Livestream on Social Media Metrics from IET. Five presenters. All to write up from my notes and screengrabs, cushioned or suffocated by the ‘official’ word and slides that have since gone up.

Tuesday 12th

Picklejar Social Media for HE in which Tracy Payle shares insights from a number of Universites and through activities tips my thinking upside down and shakes it out onto the conference room table. I come away enlightened and as I had wanted, more confident if mot emboldened.

Thursday 20th

Faculty discussion on VLE and my experiences of The OU VLE to date. I take a look at the poster in the Post Room and discover a ‘common room’ I had been unaware of.

‘And so to bed’. Learn to blog with Samuel Pepys and this wonderful BBC dramatisation of his diaries

From the BBC

This first episode is a wonderful interplay between domestic and civil life, the prospect of joining the ship that will fetch the King from exile, while the ‘wench’ who works for them refuses to kill the turkey they’ve been feeding up because it’s her friend.

On the 1st of January 1660, the 26 year old Samuel Pepys decides to start keeping a diary.

How many of us have begun on the 1st of January never to get beyond the month? Or choose to pick it up again after an absence. Don’t let this be an excuse, start now. What did you have for breakfast? And if that’s too mundane what’s you solution to the debt crisis?

In the first episode Pepys is behind with his rent, he gets drunk and both he and his wife wish for a family. Pepys reflects on the great events of the 17th century but he also tells us what people ate, wore, what they did for fun, the tricks they played on each other, what they expected of marriage, and of love affairs.

In this episode some house guests play a game after dinner called ‘Getting Married’. By all accounts it sounds like a 17th century invitation to do some wife-swapping.

This BBC radio drama is on every day at 10.45 and again in the evening at 19.45. Episode 2 today.

You can follow Samuel Pepys on Twitter. You get regular 140 characters or less updates.

Read his diary, offered on a the basis of ‘on this day 350 years ago.’

Nothing’s changed much, the most important things in our life are loves, family and friends.

Our lives may touch on the politics and events of the time, they may not. Pepys got through the restoration of the King, Plague and the Fire of London.

He so often ends is entry with, ‘and so to bed’.

This reflects the typical keeper of a written diary, you tend to use the evening to catch up. I have to wonder if he had given up the diary he may have produced some children. I stopped keeping a diary on getting engaged after 16 years of writing – I had better things to do in bed than prop myself up on one and scribble secret notes into a hardback book. In any, there is no longer a best time to ‘blog,’ Twitter like you can post an entry whenever you like, as the events unfold or as a thought crosses your mind.

For radio for boring bits have been left out; it therefore reads like a novel.

Not a recommended style for these pages, but great for an external blog in WordPress (HERE), Blogger or LiveJournal. Or my favourite, Diaryland.

Why you should act it out as a way to learn and do so in a virtual world

We role-play as children to make sense of the world, we take on multiple personas to some degree in real-life as well.. I am particularly taken by the way people with a disability can walk in a virtual world (Peachy) or indeed how any of us can fly and do much more in these environments (die and repeatedly come back to life of course.)


At no cost my dentist, or rather our family dentist, made a set of dentures for me out of dentine that fitted over my teeth. This allowed me to sing. I foolishly sharpened the fangs and promptly punctured my lower lip. I learnt by the way that unless I could have dislocated my jaw biting someone’s neck is impossible. Vampires should bite the wrist or leg, but then all, or at least the obvious sexual innuendos are lost.

REFERENCE

Peachey, A. (2010) ‘Living in immaterial worlds: who are we when we learn and teach in virtual worlds?’ in Sheehy, K., Ferguson, R. and Clough, G. (eds) Virtual Worlds: Controversies at the Frontier of Education (Education in a Competitive and Globalizing World), New York, NY, Nova Science.

Was I living out a fantasy when I played Dracula in my teens? I kept acting into my twenties until I decided that my mental state couldn’t handle the selection process (rejection) and my experience in front of camera and on stage left me bored senseless (I had minor roles).

Do actors, as in role-play, have to overcome or compensate for who they are?

Peachy raises all the points in a common- sense and everyday way. I can imagine or should research where stepping into the role of an avatar has life- saving qualities, for example is not learning to fly a commercial jet-airliner in a simulator not a form of virtual role-play? I believe firemen are trained in virtual set-ups too and believe the nuclear power
industry do so too.

The trouble with doing this in a learning context is the huge development costs. i.e. It has to be better to use a ready made platform. I then ask though, what is wrong with using our imaginations, that improvising and role-play doesn’t require the disguises?

Can dentistry be taught online?

I go to the dentist. He tutors online and has had problems with this. Before and after a check-up, replacement filling and de-scaling we discuss the pros and cons of e-learning over residential schools.

Dentistry, quite frankly, isn’t one that struck me as something that could be taught online.

Maybe if I’d signed a release form the contents of my mouth could have been chewed over online.

For my ‘A to Z of e-learning’ I now have another ‘d’.

I guess dentistry can be taught online, though as amalgamated learning rather than blended learning.

On the surface it sounded like a technical issue, though I know that familiarity with the tools, with being online, with even hearing your own voice online can be issues, let alone the natural desire of people to have some kind of opportunity to get to know each other.

He said that people were happiest typing synchronously rather than speaking, in which case that is what you go with, playing to people’s strengths within a zone in which they feel comfortable.

Hearing someone for the first time creates a different image in the mind’s eye, often an image that is at odds with a person’s profile picture or how you perceived them.

12 metaphors visualised to aid thinking about the brilliance of blogging

Why blog?

  • Old ways vs. New ways
  • Isolated vs. Connected
  • Visible vs. Invisible or rather
  • Silent or a presence or sphere of influence

____________________________________________________________

 What do you think?

  • As an academic
  • As an author (or wannabe writer)
  • As a journalist or ‘citizen journalist’
  • You have something to say
  • You want to be heard
  • It’s your job

_____________________________________________________________

You need the social media skills

  • Reputation
  • CV
  • Google your name
  • Interview on Skype
__________________________________________________________________

You want:

  • To be heard
  • To engage
  • To influence
  • To compete

_____________________________________________________________

Beware:

A)  the limitations of the metaphor
B)  imposing old constructs onto new such as:

  • a website as a brochure
  • a blog as a diary, journal or log
___________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________

It is everything and anything online:

  • A digital ocean
  • A digital water-cycle
  • An ecosystem
  • Swim Lanes as a metaphor for learning design
  • Overwhelming volumes of stuff
  • It matters

____________________________________________________________

Distance Learning to Nearness Learning

No longer ‘broadcasting’ but ‘peer-to-peer’, ‘one-to-one’ or ‘group’ influencing

The value lies in the influence of the personal relationship

  • rarely synchronous
  • even more rare to be face to face
  • but as a presence or voice,
  • it is vital.

______________________________________________________________

Analogies make us think, express ideas and through simplification the clarify

  • Ring of blogs (max, ma, min and micro)
  • Ring of Social Media Activities (Linkedin, Facebook and Xing)
  • Saturn’s rings and moons
    A metaphor for collection of webpages, a vibrant, dense, sharp, insightful blogs with a mix of Social Media Networking activity in Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter.
    INSERT RINGS SKETCH

The pattern that  matters to me is between people.

Which I tried to bring to life with a set of chess pieces. I need to work on this, perhaps lay the relationships out on the floor of a conference hall?

Activity systems illustrate how people solve problems are  innovation and generate influence through interaction

_________________________________________________________________________

Who reads, who comments who creates?

__________________________________________________________________________

Conversations between people, content fed in, discussed, shared, informing the website or informed by it.

BLOGGING

Individual or group/team enterprise

Author or contributor

(Guest writers)

Effort, patience, time …

  • Listen
  • Comment
  • Create

WHAT TYPE OF BLOG?

‘Everything and anything goes. You cannot do it wrong. There are no mistakes. At any time you can change your point of view, your style, your book, the pen you write with, the direction you write on the pages, the language in which you write, the subjects you include, or the audience you write to. You can misspell, write ungrammatically, enter incorrect dates, exaggerate, curse, pray, write poetically, eloquently, angrily, lovingly. You can past in photographs, newspaper clippings, cancelled checks, letters, quotes, drawings, doodles, dried flowers, business cards, or labels. You can write on lined paper or blank paper, violet paper or yellow, expensive bond or newsprint.’

Tristine Rainer, ‘The New Diary’ 1976.

CREATE

______________________________________________________________________________

RECOMMEND

  • Niche (person or team)
  • Comprehensive (an extension of the website)

Also personal, unique even quirky … Has a point of view, voice.
N.b. Consistent … Pace can change, but at least like a fire that never goes out … Or it will.

Beating writer’s block – controlled stimulation to get you going

SOCIAL MEDIA as the ‘Water-Cooler’

Two words:

‘Be Sociable’

LEARNING ONLINE

Why the groundswell?

And why now?

How, where and when do you learn?

Think about your own learning – the resources and tools you use, where and when it takes place.

Early mornings from 4.00am, weekends, mornings only ’til 10.00 or so.

Occasionally some reading in the evening.

But vicariously too, in a conversation, or going for walk, say looking at pebbles and shell washed up on the shore, or the layers of deposits in a chalk cliff.

What is your experience of being a learner?

If I’m not learning something new or building on my knowledge I am bored. I’m staggered I survived formal learning, I found the Oxford approach tedious, skipped all lectures, and relied instead on libraries and Blackwells which could between them supply every book or journal I wanted.

I failed to get far with a correspondence course on writing.

I learn best with a mixture of doing, reading/workshops and further application. I can be inspired or frustrated by my peer group. They can be a vital part of the mix, a course I did across Europe having the most refreshing mix of people.

What tools and resources do you use?

I’m slowly getting it all down to the iPad for its speed to the web, then grabbing and pasting into websites that I use as folders, eportfolios, writer’s journal as well as open blogs. I also chuck things into my email folders to collate, aggregate or check through later.

What are your views on different technologies?

I make the time to try most things and will become temporarily hooked. Currently fixated on Linkedin, WordPress blogs and Stumbleupon.

Likely to read most content as an eBook putting notes into iWriter. This is in stark contrast to printing everything off a year ago then filing it.

Forever grabbing screenshots or taking pics that go from Picasa to Picasa Web and then into blogs.

Can you think of examples where technology has made a significant difference to the way you learn?

When I started the MAODE I fell back on methods I had used during A’ levels snd quickly filled several files.

A year on and I hold the iPad in my right hand and manage a kind of touchtyping with the other. I try not to rely on harddrives and memory sticks instead putting it online, increasingly as private or password protected entries in a number of blogs hat act as themes or categories.

I would worry about learning away from The OU and finding the VLE not up to scratch or being cut-off from fellow students.

Can you think of counter examples where you had a bad experience of a particular technology?

I hate Outlook and Excel.

I both instances I feel the nerd has taken over, that my mothball of a mnd is being shoe-horned into a match-box. Worse, My unregimented, freefalling, excitable mind is being containerised, my best thoughts quaterised. It disables some minds and enables the petty. These are to me like walking in crocodiles to the school dining hall; they are overly prescriptive.

I am starting to hate Word 2011 in favour of an iPad App, iWriter which is less like trying to write while dressed as a Morris Dancer and playing the Great Whurlitzer.

Interested in the potential of computers I joined an undergraduate group in 1983 but found having to learn programming was akin to sticking stamps onto envelopes with my toes.

I used interactive DVDs successfully to learn AdobePhotoshop, FilemakerPro and Dreamweaver.

Simply a voice talking through the screen shots then getting you to do the same. The next best thing to having someone sit at your side and be your guide.

All self-paced, vital as I might prefer to do 20 intensive hours in one shot rather than nibbling at it.

What did this do to your motivation for learning?

There must be intrinsic motivation.

How did you deal with the situation?

Giving up. Which I know now was unnecessary. Thinking my mind isn’t suited to a thing instead of tackling it.

Support is vital.

Some formal training, then support at your shoulder. Time to figure it out. Understanding as you get it wrong. Those expert at these things can be unsympathetic to new comers, assuming their knowledge, rather that helping or nuturing.

Had the motivation been there could I have found my own way into the technology I do wonder.

I love the intuitive, where the learning is self-directed and incremental. Anything that needs an instruction manual or behaves like the off-side rule will put me off.

I love the Sony flip. IT just does video. Like Google ‘just does search’.

Excessive bells and whistles should be offered as Apps to add later rather than being offered up front.

Visualing metaphors I use to explain learning online:

It is like the letter a …

  • A dandelion in seed (Content online)
  • The solar system (Social Media Networks)
  • Drops of ink in water (Content online)

 

Akin to my ever changing Personal Learning Environment mindmap:

  • Lichen (How your knowledge grows/links)
  • Ball-bearings (Dependency and interaction)
  • A map (layouts, representation)
  • The water-cycle (Binary code as water molecules)
  • A Catherine-wheel (Spinning beautifully then falling of its stand!)
  • A glider riding a thermal (Personal development)
  • Delibes, Lakme. (Music as metaphor. Dance. Entanglement. Rising)
  • Learning to sight read music
  • Soaring and bound
  • Swimming pool (coaching/training)

Each might emphasise different aspects of the process: –

  • What is being learnt
  • Contexts
  • Audiences

Ways of expressing yourself

  • Empathy
  • Shared experience

What artifacts (tools, resources, etc.) are being used?

Where and when things are happening

  • IPad
  • Photoscspe
  • Picasa
  • Artpad
  • Bubbl.us
  • Wordle
  • MRI scan
  • Engestrom’s activity systems
  • Google Images
  • David Mcandless