Friday, September 08, 2006

The end of a beautiful relationship

I'm tempted to sign off with "so long, & thanks for all the fish", but that's already been done....

Life came along & interrupted this blog, as my husband's heart attack happened less than 48 hours after my last entry, & threw all sorts of things into confusion. His treatment isn't yet complete, so there's still an air of limbo about the place, but H806 is finished. Although failing to complete the course was never an option, inevitably some enthusiasm evaporated & I didn't take as full a part as I would have liked in the final weeks.

I've been back though my Learning Objects, de-ampersanding them & removing the sarky comments, to polish them into a suitable form for assessment. I couldn't help but be struck by the irony of reading about e-learning's potential to bring about profound pedagogical shifts & even, perhaps, "the death of the course", whilst laying my own work on the procrustean bed of ECA criteria. Nevertheless, if I've made a good enough job of this last task, it will be gratifying to come out of 2006 with a PGCertODE(Open).

I hope all my fellow students achieve success & a sense that the frustrations have been outweighed by the sheer variety & innovativeness of the course. To a large extent, H806 was what we made it, & each of us probably made a different H806.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Another one bites the dust...

Submitted TMA 02 with just 3 hours to spare! It was, as they say, a damn close run thing....

Strangely (or perhaps not so strangely) I think I learned more from doing the TMA than from studying the module, though of course the latter flagged up the key areas. To begin with, I had to fill in a lot of gaps in my knowledge about the OU as an organisation, which was useful in itself. Then an almost randomly chosen subject for my TMA project actually turned out to be highly relevant & topical. I resented having to take a day out from it to attend an OU meeting (couldn't skive off it because I was leading one of the sessions) but came away with a whole new set of connections to explore & have been invited to submit my TMA to a working group that's looking at exactly the topic I'd decided to write about. The hypothetical exercise suddenly became real & I had to stop myself getting carried away by it!

Good stuff, this learning :-)

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Guilt-free selectivity

This is a reflective one...

Two weeks into the second module, & the new approach seems to be working out. Pick'n'mix, on my terms, is making me feel much more in control of my learning. I know there aren't enough hours in a week to study everything thoroughly, partly because my brain's not as young as it was & I have to go through academic articles several times, slowly, to absorb what they're saying. But instead of panicking or sacrificing other activities to indulge my perfectionist tendencies, I'm only giving one or two topics per week the deep treatment, & it feels great :-)

I've reminded myself of my primary reason for doing this course: to gain a better understanding of my own organisation (the OU) & my role within it as an online tutor & moderator. That's not to say I'm ignoring all the material about "training", because what happens in the corporate world will spill over into the academic world, as universities become ever more more business-oriented - & in fact the most interesting case studies have been about e-learning at Shell & company intranets at a pseudonymous "Eurobank". But I'm not beating myself up about collecting knowledge I'll never need to apply.

I'm also introducing a greater element of instrumentalism into my study & giving more attention to those activities I'm likely to be able to re-use for the end of course portfolio. The others are being read closely if they're intrinsically interesting or potentially useful for the end of module assignment, or just skimmed if they don't meet any of these conditions. Or if they clash horribly with my preferred learning styles - my scepticism about the validity of learning styles analysis goes out of the window when I'm asked to make an audio recording! Instant Messaging was difficult enough....

I still haven't completely skipped any sections of the course (some old habits die very hard) but my personal learning is definitely changing, & that, conveniently, is what the course is all about.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Non-dependent learning

I'm using that term intentionally, in contradistinction to "independent learning", which could be a private & solitary affair. "Non-dependent learning" (I made it up) is simply learning that people get on with, without waiting for somebody to come along & hold their hand & tell them what to do.

I've read statements like this before:

"Instruction can foster a dependency relationship, in which the learner waits for instruction rather than takes charge of their own learning agenda. Effectively, this presents a barrier to self-directed learning."

(CIPD Report: How People Learn, p. 10)

I've probably even written them, during casual discussions of didactic versus constructivist approaches to learning.

But old habits die hard, & I found myself feeling adrift during the first module of H806 because I was waiting for somebody to tell me what to do. How silly is that? I'm going to be more grown-up in Module 2.

Friday, April 07, 2006

looping the loop

Lots of new learning this week!
Here's one I hadn't come across before: Argyris & Schön's three levels of organisational learning (1978).

Seriously simplified, these are:

  • single loop learning - find out what has gone wrong, & fix it. This tends to preserve the status quo (an organisation's practices & assumptions) regardless of what's happening 'out there'.

  • double loop learning - find out why it has gone wrong, & fix the underlying causes. This can enable an organisation to change its habits, in response to external change.

  • deutero learning - find out how best to do the first two (learning about learning). This can enable an organisation to be ready for external change before it even happens.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Seconds out, round two...

So, we've had our Recovery Week & now it's on to Module 2, Learning and the connected organisation. My first instinct is to quibble (surely all organisations are connected, otherwise they're not organisations....) but I really must try to keep my scepticism under control for a while.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

So it was just paranoia...

No threat to my blog at all - simply a glitch. I've seen it several times since & often simply refreshing the page is all that's required to restore access. But it was an odd coincidence at the time & a reminder of how fragile our freedoms are.

While we agonize over the definition of "learning objects" (this week's course topic) & fret about the withdrawal of classroom access to blogs, there are still billions of the world's population who've never encountered a digital learning object, or had blog access in the first place to be removed.

This is five years old & unreferenced, but I suspect it isn't far from the truth:

Census of the Global Village
If we shrunk the world's population of six billion to a village of 100 people, it would contain:
  • 70 would be nonwhite

  • 70 would be non-Christian

  • 11 would be gay

  • 6 people would own 59% of the wealth and all 6 would be from the United States.

  • 80 would live in poor housing conditions or not have a home at all

  • 70 would be unable to read 50 would suffer from malnutrition

  • 1 would be about to die

  • 1 would be about to be born

  • 1 would have a college education

  • 2 would own computers.

From a report of the TechLearn conference, 2001.
Now that is something to worry about.