Twisted Pair: Connor MacLeod and Wile E Coyote #twistedpair

Yet again a challenge has been laid down by Steve Wheeler. In his post Steve explains the idea of whether there any “strange (twisted) pairs that would inspire people to write thoughtful blog posts on education and learning?”

So, I’m pairing the fictional characters of the immortal Connor MacLeod (Highlander, 1986) and cartoon character of Wile E Coyote (never-successful hunter of Roadrunner, 1949-). So. why these two?

Highlander was one of the first films I watched more than once in the cinema, and many many more times on video (VHS, remember them?) with an awesome soundtrack from Queen (also my favourite band!). An immortal who battles other immortals to be the last one standing for the ‘prize’, to be mortal once more. 

Here is someone who cannot die except for decapitation. From the mid 1500’s, when he realises he’s immortal, he no doubt has to train and be ready for a challenge from any other immortals, at any time. In the film we see him fight the Jurgen in the 1500’s (when he survives his injuries and is cast out from his clan), a duel in the 1800’s, fighting Germans in the second World War, and eventually fighting the Kurgen (strongest of all the immortals) in 1980’s New York for the ‘prize’.

Oh, and what a way to start a film. Still love it!!

Highlander opening sequence

NB: Those who know the film will know the image above is Eileen Donan Castle, used in the film as the MacLeod clan’s home.

But what of Wile E Coyote? The poor misguided fool who tries and tries to catch Roadrunner, trying ever-more complicated and explosive methods. Wile E Coyote keeps coming back for more, keeps trying, keeps getting closer, keeps getting up again. Never quite near enough, never quite clever enough to outwit Roadrunner. The opposite of Connor MacLeod. Both are film/cartoon immortal, both ought to be able to learn from mistakes and get better, cleverer from them – obviously a 1950’s cartoon wouldn’t have worked very well if Wile E Coyote actually got injured, or suffered permanently from his haphazard attempts on Roadrunner. But both need something from their elusive ‘prey’ in order to survive.

It’s probably fair to say that Connor MacLeod led a fairly quite or innocuous life, not necessarily hunting other immortals out but always ready in case they came for him. Whereas Wile E Coyote kept on and on after Roadrunner, never succeeding, always hungry, always in danger (from his own actions), and also quite immortal.

So, now it’s your turn. You can use any of the suggestions from Steve (I’d love someone to use Jack Bauer and the Teletubbies!) or find your own.

Roadrunner & Wile E Coyote

Image source: Eileen Donan Castle (CC BY-NC 2.0)

“Hang on a minute lads, I’ve got a great idea!” #blideo

So, Steve Wheeler has updated the #blimage challenge to video now (a natural progression), and challenged a few people to reflect and write on what it means to them.

You can read my #bliamge and #blideo posts here, and find out more about the challenge and how to get involved (hint: find an image, write about it as part of a learning journey or story or experience).

Here’s Steve’s challenge:

Apart from the shear volume of the herd (makes me think about “following the herd’ mentality) it’s the poor lost/stuck calf at the end of the video. Whilst struggling with confidence on jumping the fence, like he’s seen all his family do, he finally tries it, succeeds, and runs to catch up with the herd. 

Here’s the bit I focussed on, the bit right at the end … the herd, or three of them at any rate, waited for him.  Or that’s my interpretation. For me that’s the beauty of a working herd, a community, or a group focussed on a shared goal (see BYOD4L or LTHEchat or FOS4L). When one is in trouble the community comes to his or her aid. Whilst elk obviously can’t encourage or instruct the calf on how to get over the fence, they are still around once he’s jumped it, and rally around when he’s close.

That’s what I believe a community (of practice) is and should be.

Now for my challenge. Using this clip from the 1969 classic Italian Job, say what it makes you think of, professionally or personally. For this I challenge everyone, but would like to hear from James Clay, Julian Stodd, and Terese Bird (quite a mix of backgrounds and perspectives from these EdTechBook authors).

“Hang on a minute lads, I’ve got a great idea!”

Image source: Stairs (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Life’s a beach #blimage

So, I’ve been convinced (it didn’t take much) to write a 4th #blimage post, this time from
Kate Graham.

You can read all my #bliamge posts here, and find out more about the challenge and how to get involved (hint: find an image, write about it as part of a learning journey or story or experience).

I’m not a fan of cricket (which is what Kate has written about), but can appreciate how sport and a game like that can capture the passion and loyalty of a nation, especially when it’s going so very well, or so very badly, which is unfortunately how England seem to play. Kate’s challenge image, the beach scene above, is much more in keeping with my wandering soul / spirit and something that brings a lot of very strong emotions to the surface.

It is these emotions, as well as the image itself, that makes me accept the #blimage challenge here. Yes, I lived in Bournemouth for many years, just a 10 minutes walk from the wonderful sandy beaches for the last 12 years, before moving to the part of the country that is the furthest from the sea. We used to walk or cycle along the 7 mile promenade from Hengistbury Head past the two Bournemouth piers to Poole Harbour, sometimes getting the ferry to Studland and along the coast to Swanage. We’d often stop and get our feet wet, sometimes just sitting down and enjoying the sunrise or sunset.  

In recent years there have been some good quality cafes and restaurants popping up along the promenade or a short distance away from it – I was able to work with a few of them and provide web design and marketing services to them, so there was always a table there if I wanted to catch the atmosphere or have a drink or meal.

But the scene above also makes me think about how I view how I learn. The scene is open, empty, and inviting. It’s a canvas to do all sorts of things like swim, paddle, sunbathe, run, walk, cycle, fly a kite, kitesurf, etc. There are endless possibilities on this one stretch of beach.

That is how I like to learn. I’m not good in a fixed environment where I have no room to explore the boundaries or room to ‘breathe’. I am happy to work within boundaries set (either physical or not) but I don’t necessarily want to see them or be told where they are at the start – I’ll find them in my own time thanks.

I learn by doing, not by being told stuff. I’ll read (sometimes extensively) about something I’m interested in, but be totally turned off and tuned out if it’s not relevant or engaging. I’m happy to follow instructions, but I need to know why I’m being asked to do something, what I can / should obtain from the task or activity, how it can help me, and where I can expect to go from there as well as where it will take me.

It’s not about how easy the learning is, it’s about relevant the process and outcome is for what I want to achieve – admittedly I may not know this when I start, but if I’m engaged, I’ll work hard at it.

How about you? Do you follow along (blindly?) and hope the end justifies the journey, or do you need to know in advance where you’re going to end up?

And, for my next #blimage challenge. I love this image and I’ve used this on another blog (more about that later!), so see what you can make if it:

Another #blimage challenge
Darren Johnson (CC)

Header image source: Kate Graham

Square peg, round hole #blimage

Another excellent image that so resonates with me, and as part of the amazing #blimage challenge too!  What a great start to the week.

if you’re interested in #blimage, what is is and why you should be involved, then read Steve Wheeler’s introductory post about it … then get involved and write something about an image. Any image.

You can read all my #bliamge posts here.

Sarah Honeychurch shared the ‘square peg, round hole’ image inviting responses and posts about what the image means. Well, I’m sure we can all relate to this? 

I want to be clear that, in my mind, this ‘square peg, round hole’ analogy is not a problem or issue or something that stops me doing what I can and what I love. It just means know I need to find alternative ways or means or approaches to doing or trying my ideas so the round hole is filled. I’m also careful and mindful to take care of myself and not try and chisel the edges off from myself so I fit the mould.

Neither the square peg nor the round hole are wrong, and neither should be changed or modified to fit the other but if both sides can understand the other, and help each other to work efficiently and effectively together, then both can benefit from the other’s abilities and know-how.

I believe so much more is achievable when people of different backgrounds, experiences, perspectives, and interests (square pegs, round holes) come together and work towards a common goal – they each have so much to give and learn from each other. The downside is, unfortunately, when some of those involved are not open enough to allow or accept what is offered from the others.

This is where the square peg and round hole becomes an issue. This is why so many people think these people can’t work together. I believe they can, and produce much better results than if we only stick talking and working with people who are the same as us.

Now, my next challenge … this image from Victor Bezrukov (available under CC) should be enough to get your creative juiced flowing?

Next #blimage challenge

Banne image source: Yoel Ben-Avraham (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Surfer Dude vs. Shark! #blimage

After the experience of my first #blimage post (Desks of Doom), and I saw the amazing challenges and responses, I couldn’t resist getting involved again. There have been many new challenges that I have an idea of what I would respond with, but it’s the ‘shark attack’ challenge from Phil Denman (Everything is not Awesome) that I wanted to follow up with.

But first, if this is the first time you’ve come across #blimage, here’s a brief summary of what it is. In short, Steve Wheeler (@timbuckteeth), in conversations Amy Burvall (@amyburvall) and Simon Ensor (@sensor63), started the #blimage challenge, which is:

“a confection of Blog-Image. (Yes, we are now in the age of blim!) You send an image or photograph to a colleague with the challenge that they have to write a learning related blog post based on it. Just make sure the images aren’t too rude. The permutations are blimmin’ endless.

So, my response to Phil’s challenge. I couldn’t resist simply as it uses Lego. It’s a funny set-up of shark chasing surfer dude … and for me it’s the representation of our attitude to the VLE and the student(s). For me the VLE is the shark, and the surfer is the student. 

Why? I’ve always believed the VLE we use is designed to elicit profit and control from the contract over efficiency or usefulness. Yes, in recent years the large VLE vendors have got better at listening to what the users (schools, universities, administrators, learning technologists, students, careers, etc.) want or need from it, and have started to add the functionality and flexibility people like me have been blogging about for ages. But I still see the VLE vendors playing catch-up to what is happening in the classes, schools, and universities. I understand the business model and the need to control the development cycle of a product, but if your users are trying desperately to help you make a bettere product then listen to them and act on it!? Does it really take years to fix basic functions that don’t work properly, or intuitively? Do they really need to have a predatory approach to customer relations or contract negotiation?

The surfer dude, the student? I see this element of the image as the innovative academic, learning technologist, the administrator who want less control and more flexibility, as well as the student who has more freedom to use different systems and tools according to what they want to do, and how they want to do it (the free-spirited surfer!). Whilst the basic premise of a controlled and safe online ‘walled garden’ for students to engage and interact with each other, and us, is a good idea, if it’s not used beyond the simple and predictable file store, then it’s users will go elsewhere for their collaboration, engagement, interaction, information, etc. They will become more reluctant and wary of the ‘shark’ and look for mores opportunities in the ‘free’ systems.

Will the shark catch the surfer, will the VLE ever catch the changing education landscape and provide the environment everyone wants? Well, there’s the big question … !

There, that’s my second #blimage challenge. Thanks Phil. For anyone else wanting to get involved, you can use Phil’s image, you can use mine from my original post (Desks of Doom), or you can use this one I’ve just found (yes, it’s Lego again). The only stipulation is that your response is learning related, and you pay-it-forward with your own challenge.

Light flare #blimage

Johan Jonsson (CC)

Banne image source: Andrea Esuli (CC BY 2.0)

Desks of doom! #blimage

In response to Steve Wheeler’s invitation, here’s my response to his #blimage request. But first, Steve explains #blimage as:

“You send an image or photograph to a colleague with the challenge that they have to write a learning related blog post based on it. Just make sure the images aren’t too rude. The permutations are blimmin’ endless.” Steve Wheeler, 2015

The above (banner) image is an edited version of the challenge, an image Steve set those of us who takes up his challenge – a row of fairly old flip-top desks.

The thing is, I hadn’t thought of these for years, but I sat at one from when I started at secondary grammar school to when I left after completing my A-levels! That’s a looong time (including resits)!!

So, what do they mean to me? 

They mean sitting in silence trying desperately trying to keep up with my history teacher as he dictated our notes on the Russian revolution, World War II, and England in the time of Gladstone and Disraeli. They represent a language teacher I really really didn’t like, and using it as a shield as I wrote and passed notes to my friends. They mean leaving my textbooks and notebooks in overnight only to find them missing in the morning. They signify desperate and pathetic attempts to store notes during tests and to surreptitiously try and lift the lid to cheat.

Calculators were hidden in them during class and tests, comics were quickly thrown in and the lid slammed shut before the teacher caught me or my friends reading them. Latin books were dumped there and found there way to the bottom, never to see daylight again (the same with homework and reports). Worse was to come during puberty … ;-)

The desks were 5 rows deep in the classroom, spread across 3 pairs from one side to the other, and there was always one empty one, right in front of the teacher, you know, for the poor unfortunate sod who got caught talking, cheating, was late, messing around. Or was new.

Most of the time, in years 1 to 5 (or years 7-11 as they now are), we stayed in our form room and the teachers came to us. This is why I knew my desk intimately … every bit of grafitti, every notch or chip in the desk lid or ink well (no, I’m not old enough to have used at as an actual ink well, but I did try cartridge pens for a while: I thought they made me cool. I was wrong), and how high you can lift the lid before it creaks and groans and gives you away to the teacher.

These desks were, as I also found out in Geography, great to hide behind when you hear the whistle of the board rubber whizzing it’s way to the back of the room as the teacher tried to silence you as he drew diagrams of glaciers and truncated spurs on the blackboard.

I’ve remembered so much more about my school days from this one image. I’ve also remembered how much I hated those desks, not for what they are, but for what they now represent about my school days – overbearing, controlling, and extremely formal, leaving no room for individuals or any kind of creativity.

How I survived and made it to University, I don’t know. I think it was more to the credit of my parents and their belief in me than my teachers, or my attempts to provide the level of assignments required from an environment so alien and restrictive to someone like me who has an imagination and creative streak.

Not all teachers at this school we’re bad – I have very fond memories of a few who I was able to connect to and with on many personal levels (Mr Hubbard for English, Mr Webb for Geography, Mr McCabe for French, and Mrs Wass as my year 4 and 5 form teacher).

It couldn’t have been all that bad, I’m still here and doing alright, I think.

Right. Your turn. You can use Steve’s image for your own #blimage or one of your own – nut I’d like to know what you make of Steves image. Write your own blog post or update somewhere, and please put a link to it below for all to see?