picture of people using the mobile phones on york railway station.

Eyes down. (That’s Ron Mitchell centre-stage 😉

James Clay’s recent e-Learning Stuff blog post – prompted the following reply from me on Facebook:

I so agree James. It’s almost like 10 years ago when we couldn’t assume that learners (or their teachers) could (or would) be able to get on the net.

Now that everyone pretty much ‘can’ get on the net and mainly ‘do’ get on the net for social purposes – we similarly assume that they are savvy enough to deal with lack of or no connectivity, JAVA updates, Adobe updates and the like, all of which take up time – always at the most inconvenient, obtrusive “ffs leave me alone” time.

I leave train journeys for ‘Office’ stuff and reading now – I never try because it’s just so depressing.

He’d talked about how unreliable getting on line was during the times he had to take part in online courses. Whilst I am not taking part in such a course, I have exactly the same frustration – as I’m sure do most travelling (peripatetic) workers who rely on the internet for collaboration and communication.

I am working away all of this week, in Maidenhead.  Whilst I’m working in the college I’m so full on that I am unable to access my emails, reply to FB or Twitter ‘stuff’, blog or – anything that would, if sat in my office at home, effect an immediate response. So that sort of thing has to wait until I’m sat in my Travelodge bedroom, walking the streets or sat in a pub.

In my Travelodge bedroom (which may itself evoke another blog post) I have a wide variety of ‘pay for me‘ services available and I’m not paying for those – they are just as unreliable as the train WiFis. However, I do have a ‘3’ pay as you go MiFi which rarely lets me down when it has good reception and I’m not in a moving vehicle. I’m using MiFi as I type this. So – pretty good service, but I have to wait until I’m static, have switched it on and I’m connected.

Walking the streets – the MiFi would probably be ok, but why would I carry my laptop or iPad around with my, typing in the streets? I could use my iPhone, but the clue is in the name: when you’re walking, it’s really only any good as a phone. When you’re sat still and doing anything other than texting or reading emails on the iPhone 3GS, it’s only any good as a phone (and therefore discarded from this tirade).

So, the pub (and many other out-and-about establishments) provide access to The Cloud or similar services (e.g. BT Total Broadband). And, I use them. But. They are so erratic. I tried to upload a photo to Instagram the other night but it just wouldn’t go. I’ve no idea why, I had good connection to The Cloud  but – nothing. It’s not the first time I’ve had trouble with Instagram.

The same occurred when I wanted to share a passage I’d read in the Kindle Book I was reading – “sorry, something has gone wrong” – Amazon, the cheeky sods even sent me emails each time I tried, to say “sorry, something went wrong, please try again” (I can’t. I’ve finished the damn book now grrrr).

So, when I’m away from home I become a frustrated communicator/collaborator. When I’m abroad, it’s even harder.

e-Learning Context

A Reply to

picture of a Starbucks cup of coffeeToday I read James Clay’s recent blog post (above), but I can’t decide whether to agree with him entirely, or not.

Generally, I do agree with James when he says:

“In the context of the classroom or lecture theatre, a practitioner is facing a series of learning problems that need solving. Some of these if not all of them can be solved using traditional learning methods and processes. However some of them can be solved smarter, more efficiently (ie cheaper) or solved faster using learning technologies.”

.. and again when he goes on to suggest that focusing on the technology during training sessions can often present teachers with interventions and solutions that would help them.

However, the issue I would take is that for this to happen, the teacher/practitioner would need to welcome the use of technology and to embrace the idea that such an intervention would work. I’m just not sure that this is universally accepted yet.

Many of us embrace the use of technology for learning and welcome it in its many forms. However, we start from a place where technology’s foibles and idiosyncrasies are expected, sidestepped and/or researched, so these don’t bother us at all. The staff James is talking about (generally, not specifically) do not – and this makes it much harder for them to accept technological change or to give up their time to explore/understand those same foibles.

I know it’s an old argument, but how many teaching colleagues do you know were shown PowerPoint all those years ago (it might still happen) and still use that as their main form of a): delivery and b): use it badly? (Please replace PowerPoint with any technology of your choice).

My point? Well, I believe that a pedagogical need to should be required before a technological intervention is offered. I get James’ point about context and I suppose I just stand slightly to one side of his position, but there’s often an awful lot of background needed by the practitioner before he/she ‘gets it’.

I’m sorry if this is a ramble, I suppose it would have been better discussed over an e-Learning Stuff Podcast but …

Building VLEs

I used to hate the idea of VLEs because all they were becoming was online pigeon-holes for storing paper documents (paper-under-glass). I knew that there had to be a better way of delivering learning online, but then my work took me in other directions and I maintained only a cursory eye on VLE development. Over the years I’ve seen some fabulous examples, but remained wary.

I got the idea that there could be a carefully thought out process approach to building an effective VLE from James Clay’s e-Learning Stuff blog – – and all credit for that idea should go to James.

However James’ five stage model didn’t sit well with the way I was thinking and needing to work. So with his permission, I have made my own attempt at developing a four-stage model. You might say that I have cut out the middle man. Although I’ve reduced the stages to four, my attempt extends the work originally proposed by James. What do readers think? Is it a worthy model? What am I missing? Is there something dramatically wrong with it? Might it work in H.E., F.E., Schools, ACL, WBL. What do you think?

What if …

Picture 3What if (I’m not on a list)?

This week I’ve looked at Twitter’s new (sic) LIST feature. I’ve created lists and I’ve looked for myself on the lists of others. This could eat away at my basic human insecurity. Why?

Well, lists are not new – I’ve had a Jaiku list on Tweetdeck (and Seesmic until I dumped it) for months. The people on that list are all my old chums from the by now terminally dead Jaiku. They are my original CoP. It gave me comfort to have a list with all my regular mates, colleagues and trusted gurus on it. It’s still there – but more and more these days I read my entire Twitter feed. There is such a variety of thoughts, ideas and fun that it has become difficult to choose which list I would read the most.

Picture 2

Now Twitter has given me the opportunity to create more lists.

Straight away I recreated my Jaiku list, then another called ‘ILT-Mates’ and another called ‘Gurus’. This last list was to be populated with people like @hrheingold and the two professors: Cook and Traxler. Then I thought that Steve Wheeler (@timbuckteeth) should be on the list, and James Clay (@jamesclay) – how could I leave out Lilian (@xlearn), Dave (@davefoord) and Ron (@ronm)? And apart from a few names, ‘Gurus’ turned out to be the same list (almost) as ‘ILT-Mates’. Some people were now on all three lists!A selection of people I follow on Twitter

But what if Lisa (@notlob) found herself on ‘Jaiku mates’ and neither of the others? What if other friends didn’t feel comfortable with the ‘Guru’ grouping? Would I lose friends or respect? Luckily, I’ve kept my lists ‘Private’ and will probably never use them but what if they were ‘public’? Would they cause upset or anger? @shrifootring has me on her ‘fun to follow’ list and I am pleased and happy that she has done so – thank you Shri. But Lilian has me on her ‘Public’ mlearn’ list and happy as I am to be there, the little monster inside of me says, “Has she got a ‘private’ friends list?  Am I on it? Am I not good enough to be Lilian’s friend? Has she got a ‘Guru’ list? ???”

Of course I’m not that insecure – but others might be!

Is there a point to ‘lists’? I know there could be – but will there be? Will we be able to eat away from the basic divisiveness of lists?

Misleading food labels (again)

The Shadow environment secretary Nick Herbert has said this week that Tesco’s (and Morrison’s) have agreed to bring to an end the confusion caused by misleading food labels.

Hurray!! (but said with caution).

Herbert said, in a recent statement that the supermarkets will from now on (well, who really knows when) inform customers of exactly where the product (meat) originates. Instead of ‘produced in the UK’ on labels, we can now expect to see ‘meat originates in X, Y or Z’.  At the moment, European rules say that meat (except beef, which has different and more stringent rules) does not have to display the country of origin. It can advertise itself as British if indeed Britain is the last place that ‘substantial change’ occurred. This is a scary enough statement in itself but is easy enough to explain when you realise that meat reared in (say) Turkey is sent to (say) Belgium, where it is frozen – before being shipped to Britain where it is defrosted, cooked (when I say cooked I perhaps mean mass-produced as part of a chemically denatured and additively enhanced process of protein alteration by heat) and packed before again being chilled or frozen for shipment to any of the huge supermarkets around the country (or the world). At this point, the Turkish bred and Belgian frozen meat (lets say it’s chicken) can be termed ‘British’ as that is where the last substantial change occurred.  MMMmmm British Sunday Roast – loverly!!

So well-done Tesco and Morrison’s – let’s see the others follow suit.

But wait a minute chaps … (see previous post) it isn’t just the labelling of meat that concerns us – it’s misleading labelling full stop. The recent Tory statement is just another example of smoke and mirrors (by the party and by the supermarkets) – we still need a better and less confusing system of food labelling. Will our elected representatives help? Perhaps if we make enough noise!

Here’s an example of what happens when we become complacent.