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Friday, 26 February 2010

Reading literature - bullet points

When you look at written materials for your topic - here is some advice
  • Scan the text - does it seem relevant?
  • If it is an article written using academic rules - there should be an abstract or in the case of a book - a summary - are these relevant?
  • Read the Table of Context - do to the area you want to read - go back to earlier chapters if you get lost but often chapters are self-contained so can be read on their own.
  • Look in the back for the index to look up terms so you can focus on these
  • Look in the Bibliography for authors and other sources that are relevant.

OasisPlus problems

Please let me know if you can access repository - I have heard of some problems.

Go to library info here for help.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Advice on planning the WBL project

Here are a few more words until our next Campus Session on the 3rd March.

Work based learning (WBL) projects are projects that are directly realted to what you do in the workplace in some way. It could bewhat you are doing anyway or it could be an innovation or solving a problem. You could relate it to a job that needs to be done.

What do you need to find out?
Why will that make a difference to your work and career?
What impact will it have on your job, your work colleagues, the sector in which you work?
Can you disseminate what you find out anywhere?
Will your project have some sort of impact?
Are you going to develop some new service? a new product? a learning resource?

MDX has been undertaken a lot of research about WBL.

Topics generate issues and the research or inquiry you undertake is finding out about issues that refer back to concepts and theories from 'thinkers' - other professionals and research based academics. That is the academic side of things. The research is just one part of the project, but it is an important one (refer to Peter's and Rosemary's blogs as well on this one).

However in many areas in which we work, while there is some research that has been published in book, journals, the web, there are a lot of sources - like people- in the context of your workplace that you need to go and talk to to find out what is going on! With WBL it is also about the doing.

People have asked about previous topics. Some of the ones I looked at from finalists included: ‘Method Acting and the Current Thinking of its Use Among a Network of Professional Actors’, ‘Preparing an Optimised Dance Curriculum for a Mixed Ability Performing Arts Course’, ‘The Transition from Dancer to choreographer within the Field of Musical Theatre’,‘Can Elements of Ballet Training Improve Gymnast’s Overall Performance’, ‘Using Creative Methods to Enhance Engagement in Dance Education’, ‘An investigation into the Role of Experiential Learning, and its Contribution to the Progression of a Ballet Company’, ‘Action Research Study on Preventative Care Measures for Dancers’, ‘Behaviour Management within a primary school context, primarily focusing on year three children in Key Stage two’.

As we have more visual artists with us this year - I expect more topics that have to do with that line of work.

I think WBL gets a lot of its methodology from social science and business/management (which does organisational research). Education, for example, is a social science. However, the content is your professional practice. In the Arts, research topics are often about events and issues within the arts and compared to cultural theories, practice, and the industry - be it entertainment, gallery, museums, communication, media, etc.. Often people in the creative and cultural industries study a craft or disciplinary theories and do not actually do things like interview people or do surveys. However, they are a part of working life that most people have to do anyway, and learning how to do things in a project format really helps to do things independently.

Hope that helps.


iWBL Librarians

THis also looks like a good one stop shop for the library with the IWBL librarians (mentioned at the Campus meeting).

They are also on Twitter for questions.

Developing new projects - the frustrating bit

Developing new projects can also be frustrating because the topics AND the problems with those topics come thick and fast. To stop the spinning, writie the ideas down and analyse them at this point. Think them through. As I just said to someone in an email:

"Write down all of your choices – you might have a number of options – I would expect that at this point in the planning stage. The process of choosing is actually one of the skills you are working on. Usually in degree work options are limited to the discipline area – and are given to students. Here, the choice you make is related to what you do as a professional. However, in many disciplines the choices are quite wide ranging and students still need to decide on what they want to do – demonstrating ‘selectivity’ and ‘judgement’ is one of the attributes from this level of work."

Also writing them down gets them out of your head - just an A4 'back of the envelope' device will serve you well. You will probably have numerous options to consider i.e. A, B,C etc.

I have a book at home that shows the original drawing of Edison's light bulb in an idea sketch. It is a simple and humble line sketch but represents a good idea that he later developed into something bigger. What you write at this point does not have to be a lot- just enough for you to think through your options.

REMEMBER we have anouther Campus Workshop 3rd March 1-4pm and more stuff going up on the blog to help.


Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Athens problems

Try this for information about Athens, or contact the library staff if you are having problems.


Short cuts to searching electronic journals at MDX

As discussed in the 1st Campus Session (16.2.10) there are a number of specialist journals accessible from MDX that have information – this can be in person OR you should be able to get to them distance using Athens with your Student ID. Other universities and libraries have this type of system, so it is handy to know if you are looking up your own information.

Directions for getting into Electronic Journals
MDX website
Learning Resources
Learning Resources Website
Electronic Resources
Databases – this goes to general journal holdings OR
Ejournals if you know the name already i.e. Research in Dance Education – then got to Intergenta – search articles by year and volume – you can download electronically.

(this means that the university pays a fee to access the journal). I have also attached an example of some articles I downloaded from Research in Dance Education.

Could you please use these directions to try out the journals and get back to me about how you get on?

Tuesday, 23 February 2010


We are meeting in the Chickenshed lounge on 26th February between 3:30and 4:30pm meeting. Anyone else who can see me Friday from the Chickenshed please comment on this Blog to arrange a time.

Lauren and Ellie - can we arrange another time - do you have any time on Friday? I am seeing Zoe on Tuesday.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Developing ideas for your Project - the fun bit

I have had my head stuck in research lately, so I just wanted to add a Blog about a topic that I mentioned in a comment.

That is that one of the most creative times in a project for me is at the beginning. This is the fun part, shopping around and letting ideas flow, thinking about how to generate or capture data, and learning methods that make it possible for you to be sure about what you find out. Fantastic!

I sometimes go on big planning sheets to draw out possibilities - and yes thinking of different problems and innovations that I could do. Or if you want to have these planning sheets for later, go the A4 route so you can keep this planning in a portfolio (a place where you put stuff). I like to keep my early ideas, they are like sketches and they help me remember. I also have my all inclusive orange notebooks and also keep digital copies of ideas. If you don't own a memory stick, it is time to buy one so you can be portable.

I have been doing project work for the last 10 years, and enjoy this stage because I like thinking. In this stage, you are not alone, everyone is thinking. Discussing ideas is important, it helps you figure out what you really want to do. Even Activities 1,2, and 7 actually look kind of fun because they are just ways to deliberate about a your project and your working life.

So go somewhere you have designated as a study place and create. Keep a portable study place (like a notebook and memory stick) so you can take it with you and get work done where ever you need to be. Tell your friends and roommates that you are in a study mode - or zone - and think. Ideas will come if the muses are around - but you may need to invite them.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

1st Campus Session

Really good session!

BIGGEST points - The Guidance Notes tell you what you need to turn in... NOT what the Handbook says (although you may want to read about and do activities other than 1, 2 and 7 if it is helpful to you). We will cover all of these Activities in the Campus workshops (and web info that comes after).

We are using the same learning objectives as the Handbook WBS3835 but the BAPP programme is doing things a bit differently . Oasis+ is a repository - the Blogs are what you need to look at for the tutor comments and for the BAPP network input.

Learning Diaries - yes continue doing your own private learning diary BUT the assigned ones for assessment go up on the Blogs so we can add some social learning to our private thoughts. The Blogs are public - so anonymise - don't put people's names on and phrase things so that they can be for public consumption. If you do audio-visual diary entries - you may want to script them because they are only 2 minutes and you need to make sure to put the deeper reflection in so it may need to be thought out vs too much off the cuff. Rosemary has a good exercise about reflection in her Learning Blog explanations (she is the aqua circle from my followers).

What to do now - read Bell and other research information about trying to think of a topic you would be interested in doing a project about - THIS IS A PLANNING MODULE so the project will happen in the summer of autumn - think where you will be then or if you will be at a different job then... many self-employed folks will be.

Check out my blog post - I abbreviated the search info because I used a lot of screenshots that took too long to load.

Rosemary already has her slides up! Mine is on Oasis+ (from main sit using MDX student number and password) repository in Powerpoint if you look for the 16.2.10 Final. Peter Bryantwill be putting up stuff too. Please look at all the blogs. A Blog is up on OasisPlus as well for anyone who needs to connect. PLEASE LIST AS FOLLOWERS. and LOOK AT THEM OFTEN - I do! The dusty ones are not very fun.

Well done everyone - hopefully someone who attended will put up their thoughts and reflections (hint hint).



Monday, 15 February 2010

See you tomorrow for the 1st Campus Session 16/2/10

Avni sent an email out saying to meet at Cat Hill reception - we will be set up in MODA which is about 2 minutes away (in the building down the drive to the right of reception if you are coming into main Reception area). We are in the Lecture Theatre (if you are late - come directly there).
Mobile 07799033978 - but I won't answer when I'm talking...

Rosemary has her Blog up and running - if you have not tried it - she is the blue circle image in my Followers.


Wednesday, 10 February 2010

What is the module about?

This is a comment I put up on Rosina's blog... good use of blog for learning on Rosina's part.

We know the Handbook is a bit of a manual -that is - a lot of information and rather dense in places. It is a basic MDX iWBL Handbook that we are looking into simplifying for the future... However, basically this module is about thinking and planning in the styles of writing you did for 3002. It is about deciding what topic your want to choose for a project and learning some research methods along the way. It is about learning how to deal with people ethically in the workplace and choosing the title for your degree. It is about searching literature (taking the stuff you did in 3002 further) and locating good sources of data - that is people places and things that can tell you something about the topic you have chosen. Instead of being given a topic - you choose from your own interests and workplace - so you 'study' an aspect of your work that makes sense to you and your career (professional practice).

I came from fine art - a visually based subject area - but this stuff is actually quite useful in the real world along with your other knowledge from previous learning and your work. Also the learning log this time can be audio-visual for those who prefer it, this is a way of learning how to go about the project work. I hope that explanation is helpful... I would be happy to continue the discussion... actually I will put this comment on my Blog for others who might be on their own wondering.

Plus - keep visiting mine and others blogs - Rosemary has been putting stuff up - her Blog site can be accessed from mine... Also the first Campus-session 16th Feb and more stuff coming about the module. Have you bought the Bell book yet to read? Cheers Paula

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Chickenshed meeting - we need to set a date

I would like to meet with the Chickenshed folks to get a workplace learning set together. We can meet in the lobby of the Chickenshed if that is okay. I have discussed the 18th but the next week would actually be better for me. Can everyone in the Chicken shed check their diaries and we can try to find a date the week of the 22nd that we can all meet up (I may have one thing to do Monday but that is all).

The materials that we co-produce can go to everyone in BAPP for ideas that might be useful for learners in the workplace. I also have materials from the research I am doing on WBL. THis learning information might be able to go in your learning diaries or in your final report...

PLEASE comment if you have a good date. I will try to talk to folks on the 16th as well...


Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Programme about the virtual world we all know and love (or do we?)

There was a television programme on the other night about the Web, I watched most of it and taped it. It caught Rosemary's eye and she sent an email round - Peter commented that it had a "particular editorial tack" which I responded to with "Peter, by editorial tack do you mean the free wheeling virtual communicators (with a Well essence and Berners-Lee altruism) against the nasty capitalists aka Microsoft?" Alan requested we put our little discussion up on the Blog. I contacted Peter to see if he minded being quoted – he said ok – so here is the gist of the conversation at Alan's request.

Alan has a link up on his website as the programme is available on the BBCiplayer.

Comments welcome.


Monday, 1 February 2010

You should have received the WBS3835 Information


The materials have been sent out by Avni - if you have not received or have problems opening attachments - get in touch with Avni.

As Rosemary is coming on board with this module, some folks will have Rosemary as an AA - but we are still finalising these lists so until that time buy the 'Bell' book and read up on the next step in your BA Honours work. Rosemary, Peter and I should all be there for the first on-campus session on the 16th Feb. Materials from this session will go up digitally after the session, but attend if you can or get peer feedback a colleague who attends.

PLEASE it would be good to start early for this one. Time management is something we have talked about in passing, but for some of us 'time' is a big issue that needs to be tackled in order to get our work done. I am no different, and I procrastinate like the best of them with my PhD work! To add to that is are our perfectionist tendencies and past arts training that has stressed ONLY the best is good enough. So we wait to do things until we have to make a mad dash to the finishing line. A more measured approach is better, and somehow it needs to fit in with your own professional and personal schedule.

With this degree work, many people are doing things for the first time, so a realistic approach means doing the best possible job in the time given. This is not to say that the work cannot be top-notch, but to make it that way we need to develop strategies to create the environment for good/great/excellent practice. Talking to each other is a good way of developing skills and finding out how to get better at the study/work game - using the Blogs, emails, phone, Skype (I find appointments are best with Skype out of hours because they add the visual element to the discussion and the tutors do have home time) AND the campus session as face - to - face. I personally find these conversations interesting - but for you they are vital for networking and using your peers to help you do your job on the degree.

The content of work-based learning comes from your own workplace - you are the expert there, but the framework in which some of this work is developed can be challenging and needs a lot of effort and motivation to take up to a final year BA Honours level. Yes, I am talking about the academic writing style and the critical thinking that makes this style so effective. We are also introducing this style as an audio-visual for the learning diaries on the Blogs (you don't need to do audio-visual - you may want to work on your writing), the critical thinking is the same in either medium. Stella Cottrell's The Study Skills Handbook might be useful for these aspects of learning in Higher Education.

So - start early - and enjoy what you the progress that you have made. In the first session for WBS3835 we will also be connecting with the work you have just completed.

Comment are welcome.