One minute blog – Lambs, spring and Covid-19

HampPoyle walk Lambs sm

It is a very strange time – March 2020. We are in isolated ‘lockdown’ as the coronavirus quickly spread across the entire world in a couple of months and it can be deadly. We were hearing about it in late February, something in China…. SARs and Avian flu had come and gone.  I dismissed it as sensationalism – Social media out of control. Then people started panic buying all the toilet paper – worldwide!

Then Italy shut the country! What???? We couldn’t comprehend it. Then France closed all the restaurants and cafes – all of France! They live for eating and coffee what will they do? It was unbelievable. Thousands are dying, mostly elderly and unwell people with other illnesses.

As this was unfolding I was going back to work after 8 weeks of medical leave and wondered, “should I go in?” The UK  measures were quite slow compared to other countries. The University had not yet decided to have all staff work from home. My guess is that they had to employ emergency upgrades so the technology could cope from having a few hundred ad hoc remotes to 20,000+ loading secure servers. I went in for one day, reconnected with our team. The next day ‘social distancing’ and the word lockdown became a soundbite. What does that mean I asked myself? Will the police be cruising the streets? 

After a long wet winter, the weather started getting mild and some people were angry that others were going ‘outside’ to ‘parks’. If you live in a big congested city, eh-hmm, like London, odds are high that you share with several people and do not have the luxury of a garden or open fields. 

A week later, in a desperate effort to save the NHS from an onslaught of people needing urgent care restaurants, cafes and pubs all shut. we were instructed to stay at home unless you are a key worker, caring for a vulnerable person, food shopping or having one daily exercise; walk, bike ride or jog! This is the whole world, not just a few cities or countries, the whole world! It feels so surreal.

We are in a bubble of unreality. An undercurrent of anxiety along with normal life goes on one day at a time in our house as chaos ensues worldwide. We are so grateful for each other and our little patch at the edge of the countryside.

LJ — Getting organised and my online course workflow

It has taken me a couple of years bumbling and floundering my way to a workflow that works for me. This OpenLearn course is FREE and a very good introduction to online learning! I actually mapped out a work flow drawing for my process and update as it changes so I can FIND STUFF (most of the time).

img_1745

I am always complicating it by adding new tech and I blog about them as well and ‘Going Paperless’ is another post. For an excellent blog on study skills see my brilliant colleague’s blog post Psylina Psays tips-for-online-study

LJ — iPad ‘Speak’ to read articles

Hi, I love to listen to academic articles and take notes at the same time in Evernote my Learning Journal – LJ. I struggled with academic reading and this has been a godsend. So I am making the effort to post. It takes ages to find out what technology works for you. Ask everybody for their tips! And share yours – they really do help others. Most devices are so complicated now that if you don’t know to look for it you don’t think of it.

On iOS ‘Speak’ has to be turned on in Accessibility under General. It isn’t perfect…. It is annoying ‘select all’ the text is gone on webpages, normally you tap the screen and ‘Select and Select All’ black ribbon comes up on a webpage. Since a recent update it isn’t there so annoyingly you have to do it manually and it is frustratingly easy to clear it by accident. Once selected the black ribbon should pop up and you tap Speak. Mine sometimes has a delay of a few seconds and mistapping and waiting re-selecting and swearing ensues 🤬

This was saved to iCloud and opened in Files on the iPad and behaving better.

IBooks and Acrobat are worth testing.

If I find a solution I will text you on WhatsApp but hands free yay! I also use Natural reader which I bought a while ago and the voices are more Steven Hawking than Siri but improving all the time. 😏

Views my own.

Learning Journal LJ – Study time arrrggg

If like most of us, you don’t have the luxury to study when you whenever you want to and may also have competing demands of family, children, carving out time to study is a huge challenge.

Are you as disorganised as I was when I started studying the MAODE? (Masters in Online Distance Education) at the Open University in 2016. I was very busy in a new full-time role at work, a manager for the first time (and wanting to impress those that had the confidence to appoint me) and it was exhausting!

pile of covered books
Photo by Pixabay on*Pexels.com

I found myself coming home after a full day at work, as you do, having dinner and tidying up and feeling really tired and uninspired to study… but the guilt and anxiety haunted me. I wanted also wanted to succeed. 

Part of the problem is that in the UK, shockingly even in Oxford the libraries are only open until 5pm! I found only one is open until 7pm. Not the midnight I was used to at the UW Madison, USA.

Without a library found that if I stayed after work I could do 1-2 hours of preparation or light writing;  never ending forum and blog posts (I would love to hear if you are a student and find this true on your course, possible research into topics or digital tools for a project.

Did you set up a blog site? It is really easy using WordPress or Blogger. At first I baulked at the task, the word blog is so…. ugly 😉 However I promised myself I would do my best to try everything asked of me and have learned to love it. WordPress makes it enjoyable; it has a free version, is in the cloud and even has an app so I can write anywhere, and the interface is easy to use.

background blank business composition

Photo by Jessica Lewis on*Pexels.com

Did you take time to sort out your technology? If you have an old personal laptop or device organise your files and folders so you can find stuff quickly esp. when tired or stressed writing to deadline. 

Have you chosen a cloud storage service? Google drive, iCloud and Dropbox are popular and Office365 has OneDrive

For more study tips check out my colleague’s brilliant blog at Psylina Psays


The images added the attribution and are easy to find in WordPress from the Media icon in the editing ribbon. Then click the Picture icon on the left and drop down to the Free library 

All views my own

LJ — Motivating myself in online course. “Just start” something, anything!

As a visual learner (if you buy that learning style is ‘a thing’, opinion is mixed) so the presentation and layout in a lesson are really important to me. The old school style of our module really turns me off. (Just saying smile ) As a result so often when I plan to study I see the activity layout is uninspiring and turn off. Why should students care if we don’t care enough to make it look interesting? It doesn’t have to be a glossy publication or travel brochure but there are plenty of resources for Creative Commons free to use with attribution images. (List at the end)

However, as a motivated grown-up I push on…. my motto starting the MAODE was/is, “I will try all that I can and learn”. After all, they (OpenU) are experts and I paid a lot of money for their advice! Just start, just try something. I am constantly surprised and rewarded.

If you are busy just read the following bold headings.

1. What is your favourite thing in your course? Is it writing? Or researching a topic (googling around)? Just look at anything in your studies that is easy or interesting.

2. ‘Just start’ something. There is a reason Nike says Just do it. Find the easiest or most fun part of the activity or module you can find or use google scholar to look at an article on the topic related to your subject. I promise it ALWAYS lights the fire of interest. It took me two years of pain and frustration to realise this. Don’t wait till it is 9pm after dinner you will be too tired and the stimulation can disturb sleep. I am last in my office at work, I learned that if I eat dinner there and study for an hour or two I feel great. I go home at 8:30-9pm, relax and go to bed. So ‘Just start something’ and you will be surprised how your brain will start ‘firing and wiring’ new neuro-networks, also known as ‘learning‘ 😉

Story: skip if you don’t have time. Tonight was my best ever stumble into super interesting! After writing the draft of this post I started checking out the David Wiley webpage in our readings list this week. As I looked through my own archive on iCloud I stumbled on a screenshot of his name and a Vimeo link to a keynote from 2008 where he describes the creation and evolution of CC BY NC SA! Ah-ma-zing!

That lead me to search for something more current and found a talk he presented at Texas Uni called the ‘Future is now and it’s Open’. Fantastic! ‘RETHINK’ was my favorite bit about Open Pedagogy. He engaged students to rewrite chapters of open textbooks and they invited experts to talk about those topics so they added video! This Kung Fu video Nixon Kennedy blog vs wiki  was the result of one inspired open activity and it has almost 60K hits on YouTube – not just a 2 page ‘Disposable assignment’ tossed in the bin. I wondered if my hero Robin Derosa (actualham.com) got her inspiration for her class project writing an English Anthology online textbook to save students money. (I found her one night in the same way – stumbling through interesting diversions). Two hours later I had learned a ton about OER and became a complete convert.


3. Let go of perfectionism, remember you only need to pass. My tutors and classmates are so kind, they always say, “life happens”. If you are rushed, have illness or caring responsibilities whatever, remember you only need 50% to pass and if you care enough to be stressed you will likely get more. Read the table of content or Abstract first and then ‘Skim, scrap and hmmm what was that third S….’


4. Use a tracker or planner like Trello.com – (thank you, Selina, for reminding me how useful this is!) it is free for personal use and you can track everything you are trying to hold in your mind like assignments, deadlines, things to do sometime someday. Mine has ‘boards’ for gardening, study, work, reading I want to do someday, my dream business and tasks like sorting out my workshop, website and on and on. It will help you chip away at them and get them out of your head so you can sleep!


5. Have you tried Grammarly or another electronic helper if you don’t know how to write perfect English? The free version has a Chrome plugin and checks all my emails too. They will eventually send you %40 off and I went for it. Google, ‘Scholarly writing or Academic writing’ and you will find loads of help. I particularly liked Walden University’s tutorial videos – microlearning in action! 
https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter

6. Have you thought about asking someone to be your writing coach?
It took me a couple of tries, braving rejection, and asking suitable people. Recently a colleague retired. She is a talented researcher and she was willing to see how we got on. I was clear there was no commitment, I admitted that I had bad habits and I didn’t know how to improve. We agreed I would show her a draft of my first essay and see how it went. We ended up having 2-hour session and became better friends! She enjoyed the coaching and I was so grateful to get her feedback. To be honest, I was intimidated, nervous, and embarrassed. However, we all have many skills. I studied Art and I use it every day to enhance my life and those around me. 🙂

7. Do you Sleep at least 7 0r 8 hours a night? If you have small children try to swap nights so both of you get some and don’t be afraid to sleep in separate beds sometimes if the other person snores! It is so taboo in our culture to sleep apart, one person suffers while the snorer always sheepishly denies snoring! If you don’t have a spare bedroom get a single mattress and keep it against the living room wall with a basket of blankets conveniently nearby. If you have been woken up go sleep on the spare bed. Getting enough sleep is good for your brain and good for your overall health.

For more practical study tips check out my colleague’s brilliant blog at Psylina Psays

Photo resourcesremember free to use is not FREE. Always attribute the source or author in a caption to let the reader know it isn’t your work. If you can’t find a free one email the owner and politely ask the owner’s permission. I have always found this a positive experience! Keep the replies for noting in your tutor assignments.

Unsplash

‘some’ flickr – not all

Pixabay

Pexel

wikimedia

Iconfinder and the Noun Project

Creative Commons.org (a whole blog will follow on this minefield topic)

 

LJ — OER evaluation course creation Week 8

We have been asked to build on our previous activities and readings in Block 2 of H817 and create a table recommending OER where possible for a 5-week course.

This has been one of my favourite activities so far and I didn’t expect it to be. As a visual learner (if you buy that learning style is ‘a thing’) the layout in the lesson is really important to me and the old school style of our module really turns me off. I realised I am a bit of a design snob and if things aren’t well crafted I throw the baby out with the bathwater so to speak. (Just saying smile)

I am a mature student returning to education after 25 years in work as an IT helpdesk person. Knowing my way around technology, I assumed I would be able to “just do it” and it is not so. However, as a motivated grown-up I push on…. my motto starting the MAODE (Master in Online Distance Education) was/is “I will try everything and learn” and I am constantly surprised and rewarded.

My focus continuously comes back to the skills needed to study online effectively when you don’t have a ‘traditional sitting at your desk’ habit.  I wrote about in my first marked assignment, that the so-called ‘Google Generation’ or ‘Millenials’ are not prepared for deep learning online; organising digital resources and hardware, time management etc.

Assignment

  • Devise a broad outline of the topics to be covered every week. Don’t deliberate too much on this; it should be a coherent set of topics but you don’t actually have to deliver it.
  • Create a table similar to the one below for your evaluation. In the final column judge whether the resources are good, medium or bad in terms of suiting your needs. REPOSITORIES ARE LISTED BELOW TABLE
Week Topic Resources Suitability (G/M/B)
1 Digital Literacy OpenLearn Excellent activities and online Journal
2 Study online at OU OpenLearn Good – while currently OU specific the contents could be remixed and adapter as an
study online course
3 Mobile study Guide MERLOT – my open SWAY I created this guide in Sway in 2017 and I propose having students adapt it in a collaboration activity in small teams to update it and explore new apps they recommend
4 Web 2.0 and Community Building Solvonauts “…these lessons explain the concepts of community and social presence and their importance

In online learning” includes 5 stage by G.Salmon and these

Subjects

building an online learning community | rovais factors | salmons 5-stage model | community of inquiry framework | EDUCATION / TRAINING / TEACHING | G

5 Students’ choice MIT These are bit dense for one week of a 5 week course however I recommend an exploration and blog activity be placed at the end of the module to encourage future learning and resource awareness.
Students would choose one or two options they like and write a brief blog about them to share with their cohort. This would serve several goals:

a. as ‘a taster’ or introduction to the resources in open courseware to include others such as Stanford, Carnegie Melon

b. writing practice by blogging a review

c. encourage commitment and life long learning beyond this module  According to Ferguson et. al. (2019) Innovation report 2019 providing the freedom
to explore one’s own choice increases motivation. This is certainly true for me personally.

If you got this far, thank you for sticking with me! I am so pleased I didn’t actually find it difficult to accomplish with all open sources and I would be really keen to try it out. These are the repositories recommended to us:

o   Solvonauts (this is a search engine that searches across repositories)

o   Merlot

o   MIT

o   OpenLearn

o   OpenStax

o   Saylor

Learning Journal – Open Education – Week 7

Before OpenU – H800 (replaced by H880) I hadn’t heard of open education. I was aware of open source software from being in IT. I work at a large university that considers intellectual property their life’s work. Funny though, when it comes to software they all want/expect everything free of charge 🙂

On starting at OpenU I would have really appreciated the Open Learn ‘Study at Open University’. I had no idea such a resource existed and it is so fantastic! I found studying online after being out of education for 25 years daunting and many times I thought I couldn’t cut it. I had the false assumption that having been on the helpdesk for 15 years I’d just pick it up – absolutely no.

Since then I have tried some open learning, a Moodle MOOC about Moodle by Moodle. I was blown away by how many people were on it over 10,000! from all over the world. I was too busy working full time and studying MAODE to keep up but still really really want to do it! It is free, open-source and I know how useful it would be to contrast it with other VLE/LMS I use at work. When I finish MAODE and look for a job I would be more fully informed and better able to evaluate them.

In my research for one module, I looked at free courses at Stanford because they are so famous. I was curious to see how good the content and materials would be. The options blew me away. All the usual suspects were there but loads of interesting creative ones; my favourite was one on the architecture of Rome. Video lectures created a human connection to the tutor, 3D images and maps of the city were all so engaging. In my opinion, these elements were essential to inspire and engage me enough to give up my free time and perseverance required to continue to self motivate.

I have also wanted to learn some coding to broaden my understanding of how all this works! After polling my clever colleagues Python was the recommendation. I have created a nagging reminder to look at a free one on Python on the MIT website…. but life is busy and it is not easy to fit all the possibilities! I am refurbishing my big garage into an art studio to offer small classes. Then there is the garden 😉

LJ – Technology Innovation activity

Activity 13: Significant new technologies

Timing: 4 hours
Technology How long used for educational purposes
by my organisation by me
Mobile learning in pockets very much, convenient, BYOD know-how so low support, supported by VLE, content can be created that is responsive rather than adaptive (Horizon 2019)
Analytics technologies minimal very much, to personalise the delivery of nudges or microlearning for Tricky topics or those identified (Horizon 2019)
Artificial intelligence no Not sure – privacy isn’t sorted see blog on AI talk
Blockchain no Yes, to support micro-credentially, student and staff records reducing a mountain of admin, lost documents
Virtual assistants no not found in my experience annoying – by the time I have googled and asked they offer very basic info I already found myself – perhaps for new staff/student induction
  • From the table above, decide which three technologies (that are not already being used) you would like your organisation to adopt, and justify your suggestions. If you are working for an organisation that already uses all the technologies listed, suggest other new technologies that would be useful. If you are not currently working for an organisation, think of an organisation you know well and choose three technologies you would like them to adopt, justifying your choices.
  • Record your thoughts in your learning journal/blog. Remember to include the justification for your decision.
  • Discuss your views in the appropriate thread in your tutor group forum.