Connection not Content

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The Best Laid Schemes …..

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Alas, most of the plans detailed in my last post have been on hold. My wife unexpectedly suffered a cardiac arrest last July. (I’ve commented on Jenny’s blog about the superlative care she received at Dumfries hospital, courtesy of our wonderful National Health Service.) Now, after a considerable period of adjustment, I’m rather sadly looking at the various projects I mentioned before.

Virtual Reality – This is about the only project I’ve had any time for. Having acquired a suitably powerful computer with the intention of coupling it with an Oculus Rift headset, I then discovered the Oculus Go. This is a less powerful and less expensive headset but it’s a standalone device so no connection to a desktop is needed and at least in principle, you can wander around with it on anywhere, preferably in WiFi range – but keep the area clear of real obstacles! There are plenty of reviews and on the whole it gets a good press, particularly for gaming but VR has many other applications (eg see this review ) and for educational use the potential is enormous.

Oculus Go Headset  (Wikipedia)                                   Oculus Go Controller (Wikipedia)

I’ve only had the Oculus Go for a short time so I’m no expert on its use but probably a good guinea pig as my eyesight and hearing is not first class and audio or video imperfections become more apparent. Never having experienced VR before my first impression was very encouraging. There’s a huge difference between VR compared with ‘normal’ screen experiences – ie TV, cinema or even 3D cinema. VR immersion really does give a realistic impression of being right in there, surrounded on all sides, above and below and with the ability to change your view view in a natural way by turning your head in any direction. Sometimes the illusion was so persuasive I became confused about where I ‘really’ was. Not that I’ve had more general feelings of disorientation or sickness except perhaps slightly on the iconic rollercoaster rides. Evidently disorientation can be a problem for some and may be of particular concern for children.

VR can be more engaging than video or textbooks in many learning situations. Applications are not too hard to find or imagine. There are extensions of existing non-VR applications such as safe simulation of chemistry or physics experiments, learning how to fly an aeroplane or defuse a bomb and so on but also some quite new ideas. An ‘empathy machine’, for example, where the viewer embodies another person of a different race or gender – or disability, age, refugee status etc. with a view to encouraging better understanding and positive attitudes. At present, the potential of VR for education is mostly just that because the technology is new. It may be impressive in comparison with existing media but the performance gap between ‘real life’ and VR remains significant, particularly with the cheaper headsets such as the Oculus Go. Headsets are cumbersome to wear, image resolution can be inadequate and odd effects can spoil the illusion.

AltspaceVR 101 – digital society of AltspaceVR (via YouTube)

Also, with person-to-person communication, there’s a world of difference between meeting someone in real life and meeting as an avatar that can speak and move around but can only wriggle its head and wave its arms. At least that was my experience with the social platform AltspaceVR and it was certainly inferior to a video chat, via Skype for example, where facial expressions and true arm movements can contribute to the richness of conversation. It was also disconcerting when other avatars materialised right in front of me or even on me!

Writing – To my surprise my 3 SF short stories have been published as a book entitled ‘The Great Malvern Paradox’ – available from Amazon in paperback, Kindle or audiobook forms. I don’t think they’re selling like hot cakes but I am encouraged to write some more.


Written by Gordon Lockhart

January 21, 2019 at 9:32 pm

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Consolidation is the Name of the Game

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Having been around for more than three quarters of a century I’m trying to consolidate and integrate some of my interests before I forget what they are! The time has come to draw together the ragged ends of various projects and half-baked activities with a view to planning for the future. What follows is essentially a note to myself, a brief personal account of what I’ve done, or not done – and a quick look ahead.

The Past

I lectured for about 30 years in a UK University on electonics and communication topics. I was pretty single-minded about my work there so when I retired in 2001 I decided to diversify. I’d already started iBerry, a Higher Education website in 1999 and when my wife and I moved to Malvern in Worcestershire in 2002, kids having flown, I added several other interests. I helped with a charity, I tried to understand quantum computing, (still don’t), and we gardened (still do). I played with the open source Linux operating system. I experimented with a Raspberry Pi computer and camera with a view to detecting and videoing marauding foxes (never did!)

I also took an interest in the fascinating history of the Water Cure as it panned out here in Victorian Malvern. Apart from collecting info, taking local photos and writing a related short SF story that few read, the history project has yet to take off. I wrote a couple of other SF stories (see top right menu) and a publisher has actually expressed interest – we’ll see! I’ve also collected considerable info on my doggedly Scottish ancestors – another project awaiting completion. Oh – I sort of learned to cook, proudly graduating from a real life course entitled, ‘Man in Kitchen’!

Education and iBerry has always been one of my main interests and in 2010, as an experiment using xtranormal, I made an animated video, ‘A Cautionary Tale‘, a fantasy involving Open Education. I thought it wasn’t too bad but I never tackled another. A year later I was lucky enough to join one of the first MOOCs, CCK11, (‘Connectivism and Connective Knowledge’, facilitators Stephen Downes and George Siemens ).

The original connectivist MOOCs encouraged learners to contribute on their on blogs and being somewhat dubious and befuddled about connectivism as a learning theory, I created a fanciful ‘MOOCow‘.

The reaction was astonishing. 42 comments and now over 2,000 views including plaudits from Jim GroomGeorge Siemens and other big names. MOOCow popped up in keynotes and presentations of all sorts, all over the globe, with or without attribution. I pontificated in this blog on various education issues during CCK11 and made contributions during other later xMOOCs but MOOCow is my main claim to fame! On the whole, MOOCs are excellent resources for learning and I have no qualms about Milking a MOOC for whatever takes my interest. Current monetised xMOOCs have moved some way from the free and open connectivist model but there’s usually a wealth of good open educational content for self-directed learners to view and download to suit themselves. I’m the proud possessor of a couple of MOOC certificates, collected when they were free but there’s no obligation to pay.
This MOOC is Something Else!

MOOCow -Based on ‘la vaca de los sinvaca’ by José Bogado Creative Commons Licence [This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.]

 In fact only a small proportion of learners bother about assessment and buy certificates. Multiple choice questions, essay review by peers and so on can be interesting and helpful for learning but their value as assessment tools is limited.

More recently, I became an approved mentor, twice on FutureLearn’s online course, ‘Learning in the Network Age‘ – a whole new experience! Unlike the really massive MOOCs, there were only a few hundred active participants on each course and an abundance of fellow mentors. I’m no education expert but the course was introductory and I assisted learners on the basis of my personal experience of MOOCs and the web.

I enjoy coding, (I’m a Fortran veteran) and I began to learn Python in 2011. As an exercise I developed a ‘Comment Collector‘ (first version called a ‘Comment Scraper’) with the purpose of bringing together abbreviated versions of MOOC blog posts with their comments on one page – here’s an example. I thought others might find this useful so I used it in a series of MOOCs and also for the renowned RHIZO14 and RHIZO15 online courses that were facilitated by Dave Cormier. Participants on these courses considered the Comment Collector interesting and useful but it did compete with several other blog aggregation tools and there’s not been much interest since.

Politically, I’m lazy but as a young man I did participate in the famous Grosvenor square demonstration in London in 1968 (I refused to throw stones!) and more recently with my wife in Edinburgh against the Iraq invasion in 2003. I also joined the Green Party but, regrettably, don’t do anything.

The Future

Virtual Reality This is a completely new project. I’ve only recently acquired a suitable computer and now I’m considering what headset to get. The technology is not nearly mature but the impact VR will have on education and other fields is likely to be enormous.

iBerry, Connecting the World’s Learners a simplified iBerry focuses on self-directed learning and learners rather than just anyone with an interest in Higher Education. But how does anyone become a self-directed learner with the self-confidence and motivation to take charge of one’s own learning? Connection with other like-minded learners is one obvious answer but exactly how this can be encouraged and achieved is another question! Our Drupal content management system is being abandoned in favour of a relatively straightforward HTML format. This does not have all the Drupal bells and whistles, taxonomies, news aggregator etc but it’s still quite easily managed. The iBerry blog is integrating with this one – spelling will be English English!

Malvern Water Cure I’m anxious to get this project going again. More photos to be taken over the summer and info organised as time allows.

Linux and Raspberry Pie – I want to explore the possibilities of an open operating system and a tiny computer. I’ve already installed Linux on an old laptop and I’ll try to make time for further investigation.

Writing – I’d like to try writing more light SF. Unfortunately, I find much of current SF either incomprehensible or so good it puts me off writing my own! Perhaps I’ll try again later this year.

Comment Collector – Unless there’s further interest I will probably abandon this project

Politics – My wife and I are planning to attend the London anti-Trump demo in July this year – we feel like throwing stones ….

Written by Gordon Lockhart

May 30, 2018 at 9:08 pm

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What are learning theories for?

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I taught in a university for many years but only came across learning theories in 2011 in one of the first MOOCs – CCK11 on Connectivism. Coming from a science background, the term ‘theory’ in ‘learning theory’ was a source of confusion. Learning theories are conceptual frameworks proposed and developed by highly respected researchers but they do not enjoy the status of established theories in the physical sciences. They are more like hypotheses, proposed explanations on the basis of evidence that’s probably incomplete, disputed or even pure speculation. For a start, how can a learning theory ever be complete without detailed reference to the place where learning occurs – the brain? Learning theories are important as a source of ideas but difficulties with the collection and interpretation of evidence make firm conclusions hard to come by.
Learning theories may be in their infancy as science but can play a valuable role in providing alternative frameworks for educators, motivating examination of teaching practices and perhaps making improvements on a more rational basis. Even basic familiarity with Behaviourism, Constructivism, Connectivism etc may help educators spot elements of these theories in their own teaching and encourage experimentation. For example, a teacher of medical subjects insisting that a multitude of specialist terms be memorised, might usefully evaluate behaviourist elements in their teaching. (I recall a medical student passing every ‘spotter’ test by studying all through the night before the test with a bottle of whisky: ….. “The thigh bone’s connected to the hip bone …” – Operant conditioning?).

The Skeleton Dance – song for learning parts of the body. (Super Simple Learning)

Teaching in real classrooms or lecture rooms embraces many different circumstances but learning theories say little about what’s actually being taught. There’s a world of difference between STEM type material where ‘facts’ and ‘correctness’ play a far more dominant role than in the humanities with considerably more scope for debate and discussion.

An obsession with the instructivist trappings of Behaviourism has its dangers but caveats apply to any learning theory. Consider the distressed child who just can’t ‘get’ negative numbers while his obsessively constructivist teacher keeps insisting that he had to be self-directed and figure it out for himself. Connectivism, focusing on connected learning and personal learning networks, has much to offer for the digital age but social networks can become – just that. Knowledge is not only found in the connections. For deep learning, complete disconnection in a quiet physical room with a good textbook, pencil, paper, coffee (or whisky!), can offer more than desperately tweeting ‘friends’ for advice or searching for clues on forums. No current theory seems to take into account the wide diversity of learning. Who and what is taught, where and by whom, will inevitably influence best practices in any circumstances.

The role of the education researcher is very different from that of practicing educators. The researcher, aims to advance an academic field while the educator simply aims to teach effectively. Most educators now have access to an abundance of pertinent information and a diversity of viewpoints. They can be trusted (with a Howard Rheingold ‘crap detector’ at the ready!) to maintain open and enquiring minds while using their valuable field experience to exploit and test a diversity of learning theories in a diversity of learning situations.

I recently participated in an excellent short MOOC by Southampton University (Learning in the Network Age) where many participants were practicing educators of one sort or another. Some (like me in 2011) had little prior knowledge of networked learning or learning theory but they were eager to learn about the new learning opportunities for themselves and their students. The course was only 2 weeks long, so no time for detail but numerous participants were motivated to examine material gleaned from several different learning theories with a view to improving their teaching. This ‘mix and mash’ approach suits busy educators. That’s what learning theories are for – ‘If the cap fits, wear it!’

Mixing and mashing learning theories
(Special Collections Toronto Public Library)

Written by Gordon Lockhart

June 14, 2017 at 9:08 pm

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Commenting in MOOC forums (or not)

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Listen to Yourself (XKCD Webcomic)

As a confirmed sampler of MOOCs I’ve had plenty opportunity to roam around the enormous clunky forums that characterise xMOOCs. I try to make sensible contributions to the argument of the day but participant behaviour and interaction can be a compelling distraction. Some things are clear. Commenting on xMOOC forums nowhere plumbs the sickening depths of some comments elsewhere (eg YouTube). Also, real out-and-out trolls are rare. All the same, I think that something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

What will cause a comment to give offence and what level of offence is caused can be difficult to judge. In my young days using the F word was clearly offensive in polite company and even now I can’t help feeling a bit offended when it’s used needlessly on the web. (It’s even in the title of a popular science website for godsake!) These days and depending on the circumstances, such usage might be considered only mildly offensive by many participants in a forum but it stands to reason that, among a large population of users, some could be very offended indeed.

So care should be taken writing comments addressed to diverse international audiences although second-guessing exactly what’s offensive can be extremely difficult or even futile. For example, my use of ‘godsake’ above does not offend me at all but could offend some on religious grounds so I might be reluctant to use the word in a public forum – sound thinking or over-thinking? Also, if you were Danish and not too familiar with English quotations, might you be offended about the rotten state of Denmark above? I really don’t know but it’s possible!

MOOC forums usually have some degree of moderation so that really crass comments are swiftly removed but there are other less obvious circumstances where forum participants themselves can help set the tone. On one occasion I was appalled that a perfectly sensible comment by a lady tentatively posting for the first time, was considered “stupid” by someone else (OK, a man). The forum was huge and his was the only other contribution in the thread. Throwing caution to the winds, I commented that his comment lacked substance (it did) and then made a brief comment on the topic of the thread myself. Someone down-voted my comment (slight offence taken! I’ve mixed feelings about the use of down-vote buttons.) There was no response from the original poster until a host of comments began to arrive (all from women), including some really good substantive contributions. Although nobody mentioned the original male put-down, solidarity with the original poster was very evident. Finally, she actually thanked me for intervening. She’d genuinely feared that her comment was somehow inappropriate. Such apprehension by forum newcomers is not uncommon. Newbie posters who are not offered support when it matters may never return to the forum again.


A Support Group (Wikipedia , W. H. Calvin)

I once had an argument in an xMOOC forum with someone who held that a MOOC forum should not to be regarded as a support group. I disagreed. He was a champion of robust no-holds-barred debate and had a good grasp of most topics under discussion, contributing real expertise, useful links and references etc. But he could be pretty bombastic and nit-picking and sometimes just plain insulting to those brave enough to comment on his posts. This led to some very heated arguments but if you can’t stand the heat should you not stay out of the kitchen?

Lively robust debate does have its attractions, if only as a spectator sport and it’s understandable that moderators are reluctant to intervene until clearly unacceptable levels of confrontation are reached (see Godwin’s rule of Nazi analogies!). On the other hand, in a large forum, there are usually participants with the necessary topic expertise and sufficient empathy to respond constructively to a badly expressed question or a mistaken assumption in a way that aids understanding, positively advancing discussion without any suspicion of a put-down. Can some way not be found to encourage those who revel in confrontation to conduct their ding-dong battles elsewhere, perhaps in well-advertised threads or sub-forums, so that safer spaces are left for the vast middle ground of learners who appreciate less competitive and more supportive environments?

A great advantage of online asynchronous discussion over face-to-face is that there is a golden opportunity for considered thought and reflection before responding. No matter how irritating the indiscretions and errors rightly or wrongly perceived in the comments of others, there’s usually time to allow tolerance and understanding to break through. Commenting with caution and sensitivity to context is always a safe alternative to knee-jerk reactions made in the heat of the moment.

Can opinions be freely expressed in a supportive environment without giving offence to anyone anywhere? At one extreme, robust debate can degenerate into aggressive personal attacks while at the other, excessive concern about giving or taking offence can stifle discussion, particularly if confronted with closed minds and fixed ideas. More empathetic moderation and a re-think of how xMOOC forums are structured is in order but forum participants themselves should have at least some responsibility for everyone’s learning as well as their own. A thick skin should not be necessary in a forum but a paper-thin one and extreme readiness to give and take offence, is unlikely to further anyone’s learning objectives. We must all learn to tolerate minor perceived offences …. hmm… . so now I’m off to visit that popular science website but without naming it here!

Written by Gordon Lockhart

November 14, 2016 at 10:44 am

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MOOCow Meets The Hound of the Baskervilles – #twistedpair

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Hound of the Baskervilles

(The Demon Dog of Dover by Shadow-lightning)

Hound of the Baskervilles:


MooCow: Beg Pardon?
HOB: I said, HOWOOooo … Oh never mind – it’s supposed to be scary!
MC: Connectivist cows don’t scare easily – now push off before I connect with your butt!
HOB: Hey! That’s no way to talk to an authority on education!
MC: Authority my hoof – you’ll be telling me you invented MOOCs next!
HOB: Got it in one! Best thing I ever did since corporal punishment. Why do you think I go round dropping these red pills in university water supplies? I give ’em 20th century traditional education on steroids! Turn mild-mannered professors into raving rock stars overnight. They love the attention and not having proper exams to mark helps develop their video skills – you know, make-up and a proper dress sense.
MC: Holy turnips! It’s the 21st century. Humans should take responsibility for their own learning.
HOB: Oh yeah? They’re miles too stupid for that but I do encourage nice debates in closed forums so they can’t escape instruction. They do actually teach themselves a little but you should see how grateful they are when a real professor comes down and gives them the right answers! What they really love though is discussing the grading schemes and they’ll do that until the cows come home. The forum threads get so long they can’t even find their own posts!
MC: Hey! – less on the cows Hound Dog! I don’t have much time for grading with peer assessment and multiple choice questions.
HOB: Me too – it’s all a lot of nonsense but humans are nostalgic about their school days and expect to be examined by the teacher. They won’t all get all the questions right – like, “When’s the 10 o’clock News?” Some tick ‘midnight’ and then there’s furious debates about it in the forums! Same with peer-assessment. The range of grades has to be so narrow – like 98, 99 and 100, to stop them marking each other down but with a pass grade at 98 they’re still happy to buy our x-certificates for 1st, 2nd or 3rd class honours! OK, we all know it’s a lousy product so now we’re planning to sell Pavlovian style edu-bracelets for wearing during exams so we can electrically shock ’em when they give wrong answers! No gain (for us!) without pain (for them!) – Ha! Ha! The wronger the answer the higher the volts – and watch the drop dead rate! What’s more, we’re into artificial intelligence with fully-contented, self-driven robo-profs. Add them to your online shopping basket for only a few thousand dollars and we’re goin’ to …….
MC: Enough! No more of this dreary dog-driven drivel! I don’t like to say I invented MOOCs (to be honest I think it was some Canadian oddballs whose names I forget – maybe even human) and you and your x-certificate MOOCs aren’t a patch on the original cMOOCs. While you’ve been contaminating university water supplies I’ve connected more times than you’ve had dog dinners! You ain’t nothin’ but a Hound Dog and you ain’t no friend of mine! You ain’t never caught a rabbit …. so I’m using my superpowers to turn you into one! Byeeee!
HOB: Howooooooooooooo ……….. grunt!
MC: MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOCCCCCC!!!!! Dratted dog made me late for my next keynote.

Written by Gordon Lockhart

October 6, 2015 at 12:45 pm

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The Wonderland of a Literary MOOC

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I recently joined ‘Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World‘ by Prof. Eric Rabkin of the University of Michigan. This is a typical Coursera xMOOC with the usual closed forum populated by a minority of participants. I never spotted Prof. R. in the forums but there are a number of helpful TAs, some having completed the course on a previous iteration.

Videos are presented in ‘flipped’ format. Prof. R. releases a brief ‘Before You Read’ video, setting the scene for each weekly topic (eg ‘Lewis Carroll’) and then there’s assigned readings and a 270 to 320 words essay to write, “on any literary matter that you studied in that reading: plot, style, theme, structure, imagery, allusion, narrator reliability, and so on.” The essay, “…should aim to enrich the reading of a fellow student who is both intelligent and attentive to the readings and to the course.” So far so good but the essays are peer reviewed and the system software only allows essay writers to see their own reviews after they review 4 or 5 other essays. A small minority of reviewers submit a minimum of desultory remarks, or even random nonsense, just to comply!

Several videos by Prof. R. discussing different aspects of the topic, (eg 8 videos for Lewis Carroll), are released following the peer assessments. Prof. R. has a very relaxed style of delivery and I found the videos really enjoyable and informative. Writing the essays before the videos does seem the better strategy but some participants would rather have the videos first to spark off ideas. Could anyone reading ‘Alice’, perhaps for the first time, really not have ideas of their own? Perhaps a lack of confidence and a mistaken belief that the only ‘correct’ interpretations are the ones handed down by the Professor is the root cause.

The last literary essay I wrote was a very long time ago but I did manage 4/6 on the two essays I submitted for peer assessment. This is not too surprising as the marking scheme is tightly constrained. There are two categories: form (grammar, usage, and structure) and content (matters of insight, argument, and example). Each is marked on a scale of 1 to 3 so the marks awarded can only range from 2 to 6 and unless the form or content perceived by a reviewer is undeniably awful or absolutely brilliant, the most likely score is 4. Most participants make 4 but not all are happy and there’s the usual controversy, beloved of xMOOCs, about given grades and the marking scheme. The marking scheme is probably designed to keep up grade averages and limit excessively low or high scores. It’s certainly crude and of course it’s operated, with or without due diligence, by other participants. Perhaps a participant’s averaged grades will make some sense by the end of the course but peer assessment is the only means of assessment. My feeling is that these grades have considerably less significance than many participants are led to believe.

The feedback on my own essays was brief but friendly and quite helpful. Many participants (like me) are unpractised literary essayists so some inconsistency between 4 peer assessments on the same essay is to be expected. One peer comment really made me think, “Be careful of words like would, may, appear etc. You are convincing me of your point, use more aggressive language.” But my literary interpretations can be quite speculative and so too are many other interpretations I’ve come across on this course – sometimes wildly speculative! Dressing up speculation with unduly assertive or aggressive language seems a bit like getting a debating point across by shouting.

This course is a new experience for me. I enjoyed the reading and writing but found it all very time-consuming and now with several other projects on the go I’m only monitoring progress. I hardly participated at all in the forums but there was good discussion and debate there.  This was clearly the focal point of the course for a small minority of participants and participatory learning and engagement was certainly in evidence. Participants were urged to use the forums but in spite of the usual section for “General discussion about the course, life and everything under the sun.” attempts to move outside the silo’s unspoken limits were politely discouraged. For example, a few participants (not me!) wanting to publicise their own writing met with dusty responses. Of course it’s not a creative writing class but what do Michigan or Coursera have to fear? – criticism by participants who Know What they Signed Up For? – mass exodus from the Proper Course? – overloaded servers? I doubt if these concerns are significant. Some mild ‘forking’ of the course might even help reduce the dreaded dropout rate!

Exercising my new-found powers of literary interpretation I realised that the Lion and the Unicorn episode in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass was really about something else. Unfortunately, Carroll does not make this too clear so I had to rewrite it:


The Uniconx and Lionc with the Connected Cake

(John Tenniel’s Lion and Unicorn illustration for Lewis Carroll’s’ Through the Looking-Glass’ – Wikipedia)

The Uniconx, the Lionc and the Connected Cake

(Apologies to Lewis Carroll)

At this moment the Uniconx sauntered past with his hands in his pockets. ‘I ran the best course this time?’ he said to the King.
‘A little — a little,’ the King replied, rather nervously. ‘You shouldn’t have run them through with your pointed questions you know.’
‘It was for their own good’ the Uniconx said carelessly, and he was going on, when his eye happened to fall upon Alice: he turned round rather instantly, and stood for some time looking at her with an air of the deepest disgust.
‘What — is — this?’ he said at last.
‘This is one of your Customers’ replied Haigha eagerly, coming in front of Alice to introduce her. ‘We only found it to-day. It’s as large as life, and twice as natural!’
‘I always thought they were invisible until monetised!’ said the Uniconx. ‘Is it alive?’
‘It can talk but it can’t think for itself,’ said Haigha, solemnly.
The Uniconx looked dreamily at Alice, and said ‘Talk, Customer.’
Alice could not help her lips curling up into a smile as she began: ‘Do you know, I always thought Uniconxes were invisible too! I never saw a visible one before!’
‘Well, now that we have seen each other,’ said the Uniconx, ‘if you’ll believe in me, I’ll believe in you. Is that a bargain?’
‘Yes, if you like,’ said Alice.
‘Come, fetch out the cake, old man!’ the Uniconx went on, turning from her to the King. ‘Certainly — certainly!’ the King muttered. ‘Open the bag!’ he whispered to Haigha. ‘NO! Not the one from the silo — its stuffed with graded ticks! The other is discontented.’
Haigha took the large connected cake out of the bag and gave it to Alice to hold while he got out a dish and carving-knife.

The Lionc had joined them while this was going on. ‘What’s this!’ he said, blinking lazily at Alice, ‘Are you animal — vegetable — or mineral?’
‘It’s my visible Customer!’ the Uniconx cried out proudly before Alice could reply.
‘Then hand round the cake, Customer,’ the Lionc said, lying down and putting his chin on his paws. ‘Everyone sit down. Aggregate, remix, repurpose and feed forward: fair play with the cake, you know!’
The King was evidently very uncomfortable at having to sit down between the two massive creatures; but there was no other place for him. ‘What a time the Customer is, cutting up that cake!’ he sighed.

Alice had seated herself on the bank of a little brook, with the great dish on her knees, and was sawing away diligently with the knife. ‘It’s very provoking!’ she said, in reply to the King ‘I’ve cut several slices already, but they always connect up again!’
‘You don’t know how to manage cakes,’ the Uniconx remarked. ‘Hand the content round first, and cut it into facts afterwards.’
This sounded nonsense, but Alice very obediently got up, and carried the dish round and the cake divided itself into three pieces as she did so. ‘Now try to cut it up,’ said the Lionc, as she returned to her place with the empty dish.
‘I say, this isn’t fair!’ cried the Uniconx as Alice sat with the knife in her hand, very much puzzled how to begin. ‘The Customer has given the Lionc more than me!’
‘She’s only trying to share but she’s kept hardly any for herself’ said the Lionc. ‘Don’t you like connected cake?
‘I can’t tell for certain’, said Alice dubiously as the cake re-formed on the plate. ‘It’s all very confusing..’
Several pieces of the cake fell to the ground and found their way into the brook.
‘Why not?’, said the Uniconx. ‘Learn to live with certainty. There’s no secret about a prescriptive cake. Start at the beginning, get to the middle and follow it right through to the end – or die! If you join it in the middle you pay a price.’
‘Not if there’s no content!’ countered the Lionc, ‘and what’s more, a cake should have several middles and ends or none at all.’
‘Scaffolding!’ shouted the Uniconx, standing up. ‘She can’t live with uncertainty because she can’t think for herself!’
‘Oh dear!’ muttered the King disconsolately. Is it off with her talking head then?’
‘Of course I can think for myself!’ cried Alice indignantly.
‘Then choose to run the course with me’ said the Lionc triumphantly and offered her a paw.
Alice started to her feet and they both sprang across the little brook stopping abruptly at a single path sign-posted ‘Self-direction Only’
‘Multiple choices!’ shouted the Uniconx at them from the other side of the brook. ‘Only chaos, confusion, bewilderment, bafflement, or perplexity down there! You’ll all drop out of course!’
‘This way, that way or the other?’ asked the Lionc pointing down the same path but he bounded off before Alice could answer.
The Uniconx turned to the King in frustration. “She can never be told a thing!”
‘Rather like the Bell-Ringers Daughter – ha! ha!”, exclaimed the King as he wandered off.

Written by Gordon Lockhart

July 14, 2015 at 9:33 pm

Posted in Mooc, Uncategorized

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Rhizo15 – No Content At All

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‘No Content At All’ – sung to the tune of an ancient folk song, ‘No Hips At All’ (don’t ask!). I couldn’t get its tune out of my head while weeding my garden so here it is – rhizomatically hacked.

  No Content At All

Come all ye young teachers and listen to me
while I sing you a song that will fill you with glee
It’s about a young maiden so lovely and small
who enrolled in a course with no content at all!

What? No content at all! No content at all!
She went on a course with no content at all

Well she remembers the night she first read
of learning subjectives with objective dread
She reached for the teacher, her first port of call
then she reached for the content – no content at all!

What? No content at all! No content at all!
She went on a course with no content at all

Teacher oh Teacher oh what shall I do?
My pleasures are plenty my troubles are few
so how could you ever allow me to fall
right into a course with no content at all?

What? No content at all! No content at all!
She went on a course with no content at all

Student, oh student now don’t feel so sad
all the content you seek is on your iPad
There’s many a learner will come at the call
of a maiden distressed by no content at all

What? No content at all! No content at all!
She went on a course with no content at all

The young maiden took her teacher’s advice
and found online learners exceedingly nice
Working with others kept her in thrall
of artefacts made with no content at all!

What? No content at all! No content at all!
She went on a course with no content at all

She loved her co-learners and baked them a pie
invited them over to give it a try
I’m so sad to say and regret to recall
that a pie with no content is no good at all!

What? No content at all! No content at all!
She went on a course with no content at all

Now I get back to my weeding!

Written by Gordon Lockhart

May 28, 2015 at 9:08 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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