I did four modules to earn two master’s degrees with the Open University in the UK. The most recent module was H817 Openness and Innovation in E-learning.

Blocks 1 and 2 are studying innovations and openness 

Block 3 is an intensive learning design project & 4 is learning analytics

Below are the first three modules I completed :

H800 Technology-Enhanced Learning

I started a course, called Technology-Enhanced Learning, and  this page is a record of what I’m learning, or perhaps I should say, what I’m metaphorically-acquiring, or AM-ing. Oh yeah. If that sounds odd, welcome to  academia. I might be AM-ing one minute and PM-ing (a metaphor for learning by participation) the next. This is quite ironic for me – I’m doing a course with a fair amount of jargon to learn but I’ve been teaching Plain English for years. Anyway, this page’ll be continually updated. Well, that’s the plan…. and you know how plans go right ?

WEEK1 Gregor Kennedy and the NET generation.

WEEK2 John Seely Brown and group learning.

WEEK3 Anna Sfard and the metaphors of learning.

WEEK4 Brown and Situated Cognition; Engelstrom and Expansive Learning at Work

WEEK5 Salomon, McLuhan and Wesch; media and technology and the connections to learning.

WEEK7 Triumph of the Nerds and Multiple Perspectives.

WEEK8&9 Designing for Learning

WEEK10 To Blog or Not to Blog – that is reflection.

And after 10 weeks of blogging, I decided not to blog.

E854 Investigating Language in Action

Part 1 is about the theories that underpin applied linguistics. I’m a teacher so I think it’s results, in the classroom, that should drive theory and decisions about pedagogics (teaching methods).

Sadly, it seems there are many who think it is the other way round and applied linguists especially seem to think it is research that should drive theory and this should determine pedagogics,with the exception being the practical approach adopted in corpus linguistics.

So it is little wonder that education flip flops from one idea to the next. This BBC article is a good example of yet another change forced on everyone because, “research shows overwhelmingly that….” when it never does any such thing unless it’s biased by the researcher or is blindingly obvious to everyone, even a government minister.

               “In religion, what damned error, but some sober brow will bless it and approve it with a text.”
                           William Shakespeare from The Merchant of Venice. Act III. Sc. 2. L. 77.
                          It’s the same in education, only it’s approved by research.
It begs the question, why are the conclusions of a researcher valued over the conclusions and experience of long-term teachers? This lack of respect for experienced teachers affects everything and the end result is fewer gifted people looking at teaching as a worthwhile career. Lose-lose? Anyway, the theories form the basis of the first course assessment.

Part 2 is discourse analysis, which is looking at communication in various ways, such as grammar, pronunciation, morphemes, and semantics. What I might call the mechanics of language if I wanted to make it sound interesting to me. It isn’t. It’s actually nothing new to me and a little disappointing. This was followed by a second assessment and, interestingly, my tutor commented on two things – how my headings were too “scientific” (she’s not a positivist) and how I should “avoid personal references at this level” – meaning references to 19 years of participatory sociocultural learning – see part 1 above. In fact, the course materials contain an article by Tim Moore who contradicts this stance and points out the conundrum of essays which require the author to express their opinion but to do so without any reference to themselves. It’s more than a little frustrating – and that was a useful experience for me a teacher – how to avoid frustrating my own students by narrow-minded tutoring.

Interestingly, her comment, “At this level” is a fine example of a hegemonic discourse wherein the stereotypical approach to a genre is used to enforce compliance and conformity to the micro-culture of academia. It could potentially allow valid ideas to be punished through the grading system because of a pretext – the manner in which they are presented – when in fact the issue could be that they don’t toe the academic line. I work in tertiary education and firmly believe it should not restrict dissent and the questioning of its own norms. This reminds me of Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, 12:2, wherein he said, “Do not  let the world squeeze you into its own mould.” That’s the J B Phillips translation. Tertiary education is about encouraging thinking free of a mould. At a master’s level, I’m back to thinking within the box, like school.

Part 3 is the socio-cultural aspects of the rise of English as the world’s second language – navel gazing for applied linguists so no assessment needed. Actually, I found this section a little uncomfortable – it reminded me of working for the British Council where they expected us to be promoting Britain, rather than presenting the culture and leaving the students to form their own opinions.

Part 4 looks at using Halliday’s Systemic Functional Linguistics to examine texts and this section is really the focus of the course because it is what must be used in the final course assessment and I’ll be using it in my EMA too. It’s a laborious and exhausting way to classify and examine language, but it is useful and the course should have focused on this much more I think.

The last two parts look at Critical Discourse Analysis (the political side of applied linguistics) and Ethnography (simplistic analysis of people’s opinions). However, since they don’t form any part of the assessment system, and don’t look useful to an apolitical person with too little time to worry about the deeper cultural implications of learning, I skimmed them.

E854 was interesting because I’m an English teacher, but disappointing because apart from SFL, it wasn’t practical enough.

E891 Educational Enquiry

Part 1 is about the diversity of educational research and the factors influencing its development. I say factors but really there is only one – funding. It also gives an insight into the baggage that educational research carries – its roots in psychology.

Part 2 is looking at the philosophies that have come to dictate how and why research is carried out. It’s a jargon storm of epistemological proportions.

Part 3 is finally something semi-useful – designing a research project. Only semi – just talk, not action

Part 4 is about looking at data, but it doesn’t give enough meat about instrument design to be useful

Part 5 is criticising others research. I don’t need encouragement eh.

And, that’s it. MA in Education done. By the numbers it’s almost 3 years, 45,000 words and £5,400.


To get a second MA, I only need to do one more module – H817. See above.