Master’s course blogs

Term 2021 April-Sept H819
This course is called Critical Researcher and I begin with trepidation as it sounds to be dry and rather arduous. I am sure my writing skills will be tested and sharpened. The bonus of this course is that we will choose a research topic and this has been a wonderful surprise throughout the degree. This ‘self-directed’ approach provides motivation and engagement on the learners’ part while achieving the outcomes carried out through the assignments.

Some of the topics I am considering are:

  • Teaching with video
  • Teaching with mobile device
  • Activity theory
  • ‘Accessibility’ – it makes everything better for everybody
  • suggestions – comments?

One minute blog – last Master’s course starts next month – H819

When I embarked on a Master’s course part-time through the Open University in 2016, it never occurred to me it would take 5 years to complete. However, working full-time, several job interviews and 4 new posts later, I do know why! Life offers new proverbial ‘forks’ in the road when we take the hard choice to learn! Trouble is we can’t see the road ahead and the good stuff waiting there – arrrrgggh.

Each new role at work offered an opportunity to use the skills I was learning in the e-learning degree called “Online and Distance Education”. It is a bit more heavy going than I imagined, lots and lots of academic reading (I expected video lectures and lots of technology in education and so disappointing). I made my decision rather abruptly over Christmas break and didn’t have much time to dither. I also learned, that I never learned how to write ‘properly’ meaning academically. After many frustrating hours I did some internet searching on the topic. I found that most people don’t learn this skill and foreign language unless their parents or older siblings bring it into the home! Phew – that was a relief and pride that I almost achieved a Distinction in the last one.

Now that was almost as good as actually receiving it since I was very very stressed (and crabby) throughout. It isn’t that I am an under achiever, far from it, it was just so daunting. Learning the structure, understanding the limits of the course design and the tutor’s lack of influence over it (basically they get to dish it out and can’t change old outdated and broken material in some cases) and criminally get paid £5 a week if you average it so many save the time for marking the papers. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for support, help with revising much less live sessions online for Q&A.

During the first 2 modules (they call each course a module made up of blocks or units) I decided I was going to be happy with a ‘Pass’. So the point of my blog today is that you never know where your effort will lead and what you are capable until you try, persevere through tears, pain and push push push! It isn’t what I thought I was signing up for (life often isn’t) but it has been brilliant. I see now that people at work gave me a chance because I took a chance and worked hard.

It is with a sigh of relief and a little dread that prepare for the last 30 credit module and September can’t come soon enough 🙂

2020 Feb-Sept Innovation and collaboration – H817

Learning Journals vs blogs’ – it’s all writing practice
This term we have been encouraged to write a ‘Learning Journal’ (LJ). We were given an excellent article by Chris Parks and his use of this tool on his undergraduate geography course. By documenting their experiences they could see how they changed, became more engaged with their material and had a valuable study record for their final essay.

Students who actively engage with what they are studying tend to understand more, learn more, remember more, enjoy it more and be more able to appreciate the relevance of what they have learned, than students who passively receive what we teach them. As teachers, therefore, we are presented with a huge challenge, which is how to encourage and enable our students to engage in the learning process.”

ISSN 0309–8265 print/ISSN 1466–1845 online/03/020183-17  2003 Taylor & Francis Ltd DOI: 10.1080/0309826032000107496

Previous Term  2017 – H818


We were encouraged to experiment with social media such as blogs and Twitter to develop professional networks. At first, I resisted and started out skeptical. However, I promised myself that I would be open-minded and try everything.  I quickly learned the value of ‘practicing in public’. My writing improved and I wrote more. Blogs are characterised by the ‘voice’ that is used and they can range from hobbies to academic conferences and professional communities. Think about Wikipedia and its open editing structure. It provides novices a chance to work directly with experts. Open sources software works in the same way, allowing newbies to work on the fringe until they have the experience to contribute solid code. These thoughts were inspired by John Seely Brown and Richard Adler’s article on ‘The Mind on Fire’ which discusses social learning ‘by doing’ vs. tradition rote by experts filling our minds with facts.
EDUCAUSE Review Jan/Feb 2008 – © 2008 John Seely Brown and Richard P. Adler

Conference: Each year in February, the module team for H818 organises an online conference to showcase the projects developed by the students that term. It provides valuable experience presenting in a live environment to our peers, alumni, and professional keynote guests. You will find a record of my digital project called a Mobile App Study Guide, created in Microsoft Sway. I have also embedded the recording of my participation in the conference. This was an extremely rewarding experience!

LJ – Learning Analytics – the Fog 29 June 2020

This will be a challenging topic. I don’t like statistics and don’t trust the simplistic nature of the way people habitually manipulate them to fit their needs. This article by Long and Siemens called

Penetrating the Fog: Analytics in Learning and EducationSiemens, George; Long, Phil; EDUCAUSE Review, v46 n5 p30-32, 34, 36, 38, 40 Sep-Oct 2011

https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ950794

stochastic/stəˈkastɪk/Learn to pronounceadjectiveTECHNICAL

  1. having a random probability distribution or pattern that may be analysed statistically but may not be predicted precisely.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning_analytics

2017 Networked PractitionerH818

March 2017 – We were encouraged to experiment with social media such as blogs and Twitter to develop professional networks. At first, I resisted and started out skeptical. However, I promised myself that I would be open-minded and try everything.  I quickly learned the value of ‘practicing in public’. My writing improved and I wrote more. Blogs are characterised by the ‘voice’ that is used and they can range from hobbies to academic conferences and professional communities. Think about Wikipedia and its open editing structure. It provides novices a chance to work directly with experts. Open sources software works in the same way, allowing newbies to work on the fringe until they have the experience to contribute solid code. These thoughts were inspired by John Seely Brown and Richard Adler’s article on ‘The Mind on Fire’ which discusses social learning ‘by doing’ vs. tradition rote by experts filling our minds with facts.
EDUCAUSE Review Jan/Feb 2008 – © 2008 John Seely Brown and Richard P. Adler

Conference: Each year in February, the module team for H818 organises an online conference to showcase the projects developed by the students that term. It provides valuable experience presenting in a live environment to our peers, alumni, and professional keynote guests. You will find a record of my digital project called a Mobile App Study Guide, [I have underlined the linked text to provide accessibility. The new ‘webdesign vanity’ with grey text and hovers drives me nuts and makes it for visually impaired users to read and navigate] created in Microsoft Sway. (in case the link above breaks https://sway.office.com/aGoSSjbrDqONjV1o).

I have also embedded the recording of my participation in the conference. This was an extremely rewarding experience!

Oops sorry this broke - not sure what happened here - WP changed their editor to 'blocks' like Google sites and it broke - worked in the old Classic mode - just when you think you figured it out.... will investigate argggh!
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Creating an Education Object 30 Oct. 2017

In my current Open University module, Networked Practitioner, we are tasked to learn what this means and how to create a professional online network. In the spirit of Open Education, I will attempt to document and share my progress as we learn how to structure our own project. We will be experimenting with Open Studio (Brown, 2017) peer assessment and critical reflection as we support each other in an open practice model.

We are to choose a project under one of three themes – 3 word to describe each

INCLUSION ====== INNOVATION  ====== IMPLEMENTATION

IDEA 1

Demonstrate various useful apps for mobile learning on a smartphone or tablet in a multimedia tutorial presentation using Sway*  This has been inspired by my plan to study my Master’s Degree in Online Education “paperless” on my daily commute to work. It can take almost and hour and it is a great time to check in. I found it impossible. In my first module, 18 months ago, I ended up printing everything. The pages got ragged from numerous bus journeys and the scribble notes in the margins were not searchable or legible and usually not where I was when I was studying (downstairs in my bag, at work on my desk or I don’t know).

*(part of o365 – Microsoft’s version of Prezi) to create an animated multimedia to teach users and students what apps for study online work like. At the time of this writing it is free to individuals and can be downloaded for Mac and PC without all of Office.

I have used Sway once for 10 minutes and am hooked. I want to learn how to create teaching objects that are reuseable for VLE.  I find the text based model of the old material dumped as pdfs a VLE, treating it as a repository really really dull. It is a wonder anyone uses them when you consider the lack of human contact. Now as when  correspondence course and early computer-assisted instruction (CAI).

Anyone watching a few or the demo available from Microsoft will be impressed with how easy it is to use and fun! The output is a wonderful live piece of instruction that is flat or boring. Interactive content can be easily linked to google docs to include quizzes and video links from youtube. The first example I stumbled on in slideshare was a Biology lesson on disecting a cow’s eyeball. I was hooked!

IDEA 2

Create QR Codes (waterproof) for the all the plants at the Botantical Gardens.

On a recent visit to the Botantical Gardens at the University of Oxford I was frequently disappointed that the signage for plants I was interested in were not available. It occurs to me that most of us carry the technology in our pocket to scan a QR Code linked to Wikipedia. I speicify wikipedia because it is open and with crowd-sourcing we could embark on adding and improving many entries.

I tweeted my first draft and attempt at using mindmap for this project last week. I am also new to Twitter so it was only tested on my small tutor group.

Recently I discovered Mindmaps (XMind and Open Source Freemind) that is ideal for my type of processing and learning. Like most mindmapping tools it allows you to draw out your ideas, link them and move them as needed. What I never saw before is the layering of notes and URLs on them which can be Exported to transform the map into an editable Word document! No staring at the blank white page frozen in fear. It is organised and ready to mould into a fully crafted essay or paper. This term will be much less fraught than my first 18 months ago.Botantical Gardens1

IDEA 3

Maybe a little ambitious, an online textbook perhaps on art history crowd sourced material contributions using the Robin DeRosa project she describes on her website.  She started out with the idea to save students money and when the students got involved Open Pedagogy was also realised. And they loved producing meaning work and becoming credited authors.


Project Progress Reflection 7.2

Add comments and ratings as you did in Activity 7.2 but also consider the following:

  • How did you choose these resources? Reflect and make reflection notes (see 1.2 Introduction to reflective writing for guidance) on how you made the decision to explore beyond the forum entry or related descriptions and comments, which may be relatively brief.
  • What additional content or information would have made these resources more useful or usable? For you? For other users?

Task: Review and amend your project plan

  1. Retrieve and read your plan (submitted as part of TMA 01) and your presentation proposal in TMA 02 (abstracts and poster).
  2. Note the tutor feedback that you received on each of these assessment pieces. Review comments and suggestions that have been offered by other students and that relate to your plans or proposals to date. For example, read the comments made on your poster activity in OpenStudio and note development in those comments and your responses.
  3. Note how and why you may have changed your plan and proposal since this feedback was received.This exercise will allow you to identify any unintended drift or deliberate shifts in your plan and to create a plan that you can realistically expect to work to. If you have changed your plans significantly, inform your tutor of how you are intending to make changes and why.