All entries for April 2005

April 25, 2005

Learning Designs and reflective thinking

Writing about Journal writing with confidence reflection from Learning Design

See this for further work

April 21, 2005

Leonardo da Vinci: He would have blogged

Leonardo: Renaissance polymath

Leonardo da Vinci (b. 1452, at Vinci, Republic of Florence d. May 2, 1519, Cloux, Fr.), was perhaps one of the world's greatest. He was an accomplished painter, draftsman, sculptor, architect, and engineer whose genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal. His Last Supper _(1495-97) and _Mona Lisa (1503–06) are among the most widely popular and influential paintings of the Renaissance. But it is his notebooks that reveal a spirit of scientific inquiry and a mechanical inventiveness that were centuries ahead of their time, and which continue to fascinate.

There has never been an artist (in the widest sense of the word) who was more fittingly, and without qualification, described as a genius. Like Shakespeare, Leonardo came from an insignificant background and rose to universal acclaim and it was this background that influenced his later development and industry.

Leonardo was the illegitimate son of a local lawyer in the small town of Vinci in the Tuscan region. His father acknowledged his artistic talents and paid for his training, but we may speculate that the strangely self-sufficient tone of Leonardo's mind was not perhaps affected by his early ambiguity of status. He seemed to acquire the industry of the lawyer, but the free thinking and expression of the artist, and this combination appears to have produced an explosion of interests and talents.

The definitive polymath, he had almost too many gifts, including superlative male beauty, a splendid singing voice, magnificent physique, mathematical excellence, scientific daring… the list is apparently endless. This overabundance of talents caused him to treat his artistry lightly, seldom finishing a picture, and sometimes making rash technical experiments. The Last Supper, in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, for example, has almost vanished, so inadequate were his innovations in fresco preparation. But it seems unfair to criticise his innovations.

As far as his qualities are concerned, he had a keen eye and quick mind that led him to make important scientific discoveries, yet he never published his ideas beyond his journals and manuscripts.

He was a gentle vegetarian who loved animals and despised war, yet he worked as a military engineer to invent advanced and deadly weapons, mainly through the need to work. These duties took him away from other experiments that he preferred to work on, especially flight and those areas connected with the heavens.

He was one of the greatest painters of the Italian Renaissance, yet he left only a handful of completed paintings. In many ways his 'cartoons' (sketches) seem more worthy of their experimentation and observation (they are a testament to enquiry) than to their final execution. His technical expertise has been overshadowed by self-advertising, but bruilliant men like Michelangelo.

But it is the notebooks, above all, which fascinate me. Here, Leonardo poured out his ideas and desiogns. He wrote and revisted, reworked and reformulated. He returned to his observations better informed by these notes and produced some inventions that were so ahead of their time.

It is the epitome of Personal Development Planning – bringing together observation/experience – reflective thought – recording – reviewing – revisiting – reformulating – planning and execution

Annotated Bibliography
MacCurdy, Edward, translator & editor, The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, Volumes I and II, Reynal & Hitchcock, New York, 1958.
An out-of-print English translation of some of the notebooks of Leonardo, including some high quality reprints of his illustrations. Selections are organized according to topic.
Richter, Jean Paul, editor, The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, Dover Publications, Inc., New York, 1970.
This is a two-volume translation of some of Leonardo's notebooks. While the content of this translation overlaps somewhat with the MacCurdy volumes, the arrangement and a substantial portion of the text are different. This edition provides Italian transcripts adjacent to the English translations, as well as numerous reprinted drawings and sketches from Leonardo's notebooks. These illustrations are free of copyrighted restrictions.

A Philosophy for one self to plan by: PDP in action!

You scored as Existentialism. Your life is guided by the concept of Existentialism: You choose the meaning and purpose of your life.

“Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.”

“It is up to you to give [life] a meaning.”

—Jean-Paul Sartre

“It is man's natural sickness to believe that he possesses the Truth.”

—Blaise Pascal

More info at Arocoun's Wikipedia User Page...





Justice (Fairness)






Divine Command


Strong Egoism






What philosophy do you follow? (v1.03)
created with

April 20, 2005

Design Patterns in learning: Could these ideas be re–purposed?

Design Patterns for Learning and Personal Development Planning

Areas that lead to effective learning (Not exhaustive!)

  • Practical tasks that require thinking about
  • Collecting groups ideas
  • Rehearsal of tasks
  • ‘One to one support’ (diagnostic and prognostic)
  • Deadline-driven tasks or ones that place the learner in a position of responsibility or attention (i.e. presentation, leadership)
  • Re-purposing objects and ideas for one’s own understanding
  • A variety of tasks, linked together or built up in a progression
  • Autonomy in learning style
  • Reflection on
    past practice with an action plan of how to improve it
  • The human voice and audio (with enthusiasm or evident interest)
  • * …and Visuals (A picture paints a thousand words…)

    Areas that students frequently find more problematic

    • Applying concepts
    • Writing extended essays/reports, especially those with technical or conceptual demands which are unfamiliar
    • Remembering a vast content detail but extracting relevant selections
    • Analysis of documentary material and an awareness, in the response, of multiple and differing perspectives
    • Thinking through the options, possibilities and alternatives in problem-solving
    • Exercising some of the ‘skills’ identified in the QAA core specifications document

    Learning Design Pattern/Example of its use

    Text entered around an electronic image/text of a concept by students, then prioritised, leading to discussion. Ind/GW

    Example: Threats to the UK? A satellite image of the UK in 2005 was surrounded by students’ text highlighting economic, terrorist, environmental and other categories of ‘threat’. Lively debate followed. Students reflect on their approach and record it.

    Concept broken down into components and animated using IT. Explanations given by voice at each stage. Students had to confirm and extend the original idea. Ind/GW

    Example: Political ideas
    The core of the concept animated as a series of statements that linked into a wheel. Students asked to extend the diagram in their own heads and explain. The visual elements provided a handrail to understanding.

    Problem solving with a databank of case studies
    A problem/hypothesis set, and students introduced to a databank of case studies. Students asked to select the case studies and comment on their suitability for solving the problem. Ind and PP.
    As a group, students have to cascade the arguments and prioritise their validity. GW
    Students then had to develop their own approach. Ind
    Discuss and record. GW and Ind

    Example: Information in The First World War
    Problem was assessing the effectiveness of wartime propaganda. Databank of images and newspaper extracts. Students analysed the sources and tried to assess their impact. They then tried to extend the research by examining other sources and discussed the correct methodology for this research. The task ended with an extended essay bedecked with embedded images and sources. Could add video clips. Could extend the methodology aspect. Students reflect on their approach and record it.

    Collaboration and Opinion
    A problem is introduced (as a text/image/concept/diagram) and groups are asked to use a message board to solve, redesign or modify the original. Then the groups convene F2F to prioritise and compare with other groups.

    Lecture Voting
    To stimulate participation, students are asked to vote on a range of theses in a lecture (cards issued a la Olympics). The results are calculated by an assistant and posted. Follow up in a seminar.

    Fieldwork simulation
    Students are asked to keep a digital photo diary of the progress of a project/fieldwork or experiment.
    Students then design their own data response questions to accompany their work.
    Students carry out peer review of the work and keep a reflective journal of the project development and their evaluation of it. Ind and GW.

    Comment zone
    Issue a thesis in text form, and ask students to append a ‘comment’ in word (or a blog comments in blogs) at prompted points. Ind.

    Reflection and Plan
    Ask students to reflect upon their approach to a particular research problem. Record these findings. Repeat the process in the next module and compare results in small groups. Ind and GW.

    Real Life Scenario
    Ask students to reflect and discuss their responses to a real life (but artificially generated) scenario. Create a plan or solution as groups or as individuals. Peer review this solution. Consider hosting this On-line

    Newspaper/Journal deadline
    Ask students to present their findings to a problem or situation as a newspaper, journal or e-journal to a strict deadline. Groups can be stratified into a hierarchy that reflects that of a publisher.
    Students reflect on their approach to the problem and their handling of the pressure at the end.

    Prosecution and Defence
    Students are divided into two groups which articulate and defend two opposing theses or designs. Students reflect on the approach of the opposition and offer advice on how their approach be improved. These findings are then discussed.

    Mind mapping
    Students are asked to show relationships between two theses/designs using mind mapping. They are then asked to structure lines of argument.

    Seeding the Seminar
    Students are seeded prior to a seminar with three sets of data/resources which are contrasting and asked to express their opinion on-line, once, prior to a seminar discussion. The quality of that opinion can be assessed, peer reviewed and then written up in an on-line format. LL, Ind and GW.

    Web case study
    Students are presented with a thesis or problem (with clear criteria) and asked to locate a case study solution from a web search. These are then evaluated for their applicability by presentation, peer review and discussion.

    Students are presented with an outline of a thesis or problem. They are asked to formulate improvements to that thesis as an individual which can be presented. The students then reconvene to compare their suggestions and, in light of the discussion, reformulate their own solution. The students then reflect on their method and record it. LL and GW

    Design Challenge
    Students are set a problem and a deadline and asked to create a simulator/game/educational tool for their peers to use.
    LL, Ind and GW

    On-line Formative Assessment tools
    Students are encouraged to engage in on-line formative assessment tools that are available 24/7. These assist students to set their own goals and targets which they share with peers and lecturer. Lecturer uses these to set research challenges appropriate to each student and in line with their development needs.

    Ind – Individual task
    GW – Group work setting
    LL – Led by the lecturer
    F2F – Face to face
    Asst – Assessment
    Cfmn – Confirmation
    PP – Practical planning

April 18, 2005

India and its vision

Writing about Three Visions for India from Aruni's Blog

Thought provoking and PDP-oriented, this is, indeed, inspiring.

April 15, 2005

What people say about PDP

So what's the benefit?
Some staff emphasised the process of reflection-recording-reviewing-reformulating and planning as an important element within personal development and as integral to the process of learning, concerned with:

“getting away from a one dimensional view of their achievements, and come to see themselves in terms of their own progress, objectives, knowledge, helping them become more discerning in how they see information, promoting a deeper approach to learning, more curious, querying”;

and as a useful means of :

“getting students to engage in learning in a more holistic way, to see teaching as an activity which makes learning possible, and enabling students to weave together a tapestry so as to turn their aspirations into reality.”

Students identified something similar, though more concretely expressed:

“creates a complete record, while you remember it. This is important in a modular structure, where you do something then move on. The risk here is that you lose the sense of continuation, it is quite hard, trying to link it all together”.

The spin off in is in long term planning:
bq. “it could be a bit daunting’ doing a CV, so a general basis from which you could select would really help people”.

“We have never been told what an employer will be looking for in their jargon, we know we are competent, but we don’t really know how to tell an employer that we are”

Students need to be aware that PDP highlights skills beyond the ones that are obvious on their course. This is important given the lack of a clear view of what employers want from this process and their stated concern with

“knowledge of publishing and procedures, when actually what matters are mature approaches to problem solving, strategic thinking, creative thinking, nothing to do with the content”.

Students see the relevance of PDP as part of the changing career structures within the world of, for example, publishing which will require employees to take greater responsibility for their own career development:

‘the increasing need to manage your own life career in industrial contexts”
“you have to get into the lifelong learning habit, for which this kind of self-analysis is needed”.

This was not necessarily seen as an immediate motivator-lifelong learning was something for the future, though students acknowledged the sense of individual development that could be captured within the process:

“we’ve changed so much
… like being a different person.”

April 13, 2005

Charlie Bourne on PDP

Writing about What is PDP? from Jonathan's Blog

Charlie Bourne's entry for explaining PDP: is very good!

A response to the criticism of PDP

Writing about an entry you don't have permission to view

I know that PeeDeePee probably sounds like some 'stupid government idea' but I have to agree with John dale on this (I'd guess you'd expect me to – as I am the PDP Co-ordinator!) PDP (Personal Development Planning), is a reflective process that is already embedded within every course. Every time you sit and think about solving a problem, planning a project, writing an essay or carrying out research, you are engaged in a reflective thought process, but not all of us are systematic about it.

Our values and beliefs, our experiences and our reading influence what we do – even how we approach challenges – but this process can be a bit random. The problem comes when we try to apply a haphazard way of thinking and planning to getting a job, or finishing our degree courses.

It a good idea if you keep a 'journal' (blog?) of all the skills and ideas you are developing. By ‘thinking through’ the implications of your records, you will find it easier to set goals and focus on what you need (such as certain technical or work-related skills) and what you want to achieve. This could help prepare you for interviews, work placements, and CV preparation – so it could lead to a good job. In a competitive marketplace, we need to make sure that we get ahead.

In addition, it gives you a better understanding of how to approach your studies – especially as ideas and skills develop over your degree course – and this could help you decide on the kind of future you want. If you keep a PDP record and occasionally revisit it, you will be more able to express your aspirations and evaluate how they’re going.

PDP makes you more effective at interviews by helping you appreciate your own values, goals and methods – which influence the way you approach problem solving, or management or the conclusions you reach. A reflective record helps you to organise what you are going to say at interview. Research indicates that those employees who match or exceed expectations, and know what they want, in every job are accelerated in promotion.

So, my advice is: start reflecting, reviewing and planning.

Maybe these questions will help?
What advice would you give first year students as they prepare for the module/course you're on now?

Can you think of one thing that is wrong with your module – and what solution would you propose if you were running it?

Can you think of three ways to improve your essay/report score?

Can you think of three immediate goals for this term?

What is the most useful thing you discovered this month and how will that help your studies/research?

April 2005

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