Friday, 2 August 2013

Working practice

One of the challenges of studying I’ve found is marshalling all the thoughts and materials into a coherent mass – especially as I spend 2-3 days  every week away from home – and the time I spend in hotels is therefore a large chunk of my “free” time. What I have also found pretty frustrating is trying to capture the random thoughts that occur while I’m driving – and the thoughts spurred by listening to people on the radio – as there’s a limit to my memory capability when it comes to this sort of stuff (bad jokes is another issue – but I digress).

So what are the basics – I have the notes in a ring binder, an A5 notebook as provided at the start of the course and this blog. A few pros and cons to start with.

  • the course notes – in previous courses I’ve tended to scribble thoughts on them – which is a bit unsatisfactory at assessment time. I started off by carrying them with me but they are big, bulky and made of paper so easily damaged. In the end I copied the contents pages onto my phone and went with just that unless I really needed to take a page or two with me.
  • the A5 notebook – I can see looking at the example videos provided by the OCA that my previous notebooks would have provided rather slim pickings for an assessor. I’ve tried harder this time – I’ve used it to keep notes of study visits, scribble down thoughts about photographers I’ve researched in books and collect my random musings. I’ve discovered that I tend to progress by simply asking myself questions – which I try to write down – the answers get ground around in my head and end up as posts here. Sometimes using the notebook can be quite spontaneous – at others it just feels forced. As time as progressed I’ve also felt restricted by the size and binding. For my next course I’ve moved up to an A4 notebook, with built in document wallets so that I can more easily add pictures and supplement notes as I go.
  • this blog – is here when I need it – on my lap-top in hotels, on my phone when I’m out and about and on my home PC when I’m not. Sometimes I post finished thoughts (in as far as any thought is finished) – sometimes musings  - whatever feels comfortable  - which in truth is most things other than the random questions and jottings in my notebook. I post my photos on Flickr for linking here. For better or worse I started my OCA journey using Blogger – it’s pretty easy to use – and although the OCA model is based on Wordpress I feel no significant reason to change. What I have done throughout this course is tweak the layout to more closely resemble the OCA model – so that the assessors and, hopefully, other people can find their way around better.

What more do I need? Quite a bit actually. I find the idea of doing online research and then painfully transcribing links to a written notebook odd at best. Ditto finding images and articles online and then printing them out. Carrying an A5 notebook everywhere is simply painful – and A4 will be worse – as I don’t wear a jacket or carry a man-bag. I’ve taken the reading list seriously on this course as well – not something I did before (we live and learn), but there is a limit to how big a library I can transport. So during the course I’ve adopted a couple of practices and bits of technology to help manage this.

  • One Note – I’ve blogged about this previously. It’s my go-to tool for online research – the challenge now is how to present the info at assessment without more dead trees. I use it to collect articles, links and images of interest. I use it to store my tutor reports and e-mails between myself and my tutor, and to collect my initial reactions to tutor feedback. I shall be using it to store any worthwhile forum posts I make for future reference. It also integrates with my phone – so I use it to store stuff I might need while way on study visits – train times, proof of ticket purchase etc.
  • my phone – I am embarrassed to admit that in a forum response to Joe Fox I once suggested that if the answer was a smart phone you were asking the wrong question. I now use it for staying in touch with the forums when I’m on the move, as a handy camera for recce trips and visual note-taking, it has tide tables, a depth of field calculator and a sun compass –and best of all a handy little free text note taking app (S-Note) you can write on with a stylus. From time to time I export these to the PC, print them off and add them to my log-book. By the time I’ve thrown in Dropbox and the One Note app I can do pretty much anything in the field I could do at my desk (although I do prefer working on the PC/laptop for the proper keyboard.) I also have a mind-mapping app which I've just started using to keep notes from books I’m reading – not quite sure about it yet, but worth a try I think. And finally there’s the Bloglovin app which i use to stay in touch with other blogs I fiollow.
  • my Kindle – much easier to read on than a computer or a phone I try to get as many of the course texts as possible in this format. I also use it for pdf texts from the net, and as a handy format for instruction manuals. The dictionary function is also pretty handy when reading some of the denser theory texts. I have the Kindle app on my phone and both computers so I can generally get a decent view of colour images if I feel I need them as well.
  • forums – Flickr and OCA.; My contribution to these varies – sometimes I’m very active, sometimes I’m just an observer, There seem to be several ways of interacting with these  - my preferred methods are contributions to debates and helping relative newcomers. the latter has the unexpected benefit of testing my own understanding as well.

I guess it’s possible to say technology has taken over my life but it feels about right to me. Information gathering is done with the phone, Kindle, forums and PCs and recorded using the logbook, S-Note and OneNote. Musings and thought sorting are done in the logbook and sometimes her and on the forums and the final (and sometimes semi-final) output recorded here.

Not sure if all this is helpful to anyone but me, but I’ve not really thought about the physical structure of my learning experience before. Overall it feels comfortable – although I’m sure I will continue to tweak it as I progress.

PS Did I mention I sometimes make photos?

No comments:

Post a Comment