45. (E)-Learning Gurus: what’s in the name?

Folks, since I last posted a blog not much or even less has happened (to me) unless you count another half day of diarrhoea. So, here I am faced with a blank word document and not a lot of inspiration… Signs off for two hours!

Pigs Snoozing accessed at http://www.123rf.com/photo_20241459_young-piglets-snoozing.html on 22 February 2016

Pigs snoozing

Hi, I’m back again and 1. It is actually 6 hours later, and 2. I now have a vague plan based on a conversation with Elaine at tea-break and following a quick squizz (a crafty look) at my LinkedIn recent viewers.  So, there you have it: wait long enough; and take two random facts gathered inadvertently and put them together, and hey presto, an apparently inspired blog theme is born. I hate to admit it but this is and always has been (to date) my grand strategy anyway. You’ll have to wait a little longer for revelation of the connection to my blog title, sorry!

So, here goes. I attempted to reverse my role with Elaine, as her carer, following returning to Ceres after aborting our Yorkshire visit, in doing whatever I can to help and support her. Now, I admit this is not a lot to make her convalescence more bearable while the Amoxicillin antibiotics kick in and do their stuff. This is not cos I can’t or won’t but I’ve learnt, after 40 years, that there’s very little I do that is not wrong; and everything that I don’t do – inevitably- that I should have done, though it would not be right either, even if I had done it!). She’s still coughing a lot, and even debating whether she can face her Jazzercise Class tonight, so clearly, she must still be on death’s door!

Now you might detect from my jaunty style (if you think it is!) that I am in a good mood. This is not my vicious streak kicking in because of the above, rather it is because it gives me great pleasure that I can finally report that my new builder, Ian, turned up this morning at 08:00am with two of his helpers to commence work laying our new patio in the one corner of the garden still seeking an anal retentive, OCD’s attention – that’s me, not Ian, by the way! They have made great progress in the finest, sunniest even if coldest day for about 2 months. They left at 15:00pm to complete another ongoing job elsewhere in Ceres, and to let some of their work ‘set’ overnight.

I took advantage of a spare bucket-full of lime mortar and set about a few random holes in the rest of my garden wall to match the newly pointed area where once an ancient pig sty adjoined my wall. Did you know that people in Scotland (and other parts of the UK, I presume?) used to keep pigs for food in their back gardens at least at around the time our house was built (1798). I’m not sure when this practice stopped, but I didn’t inherit any pigs or a larder-full of pork, bacon or even pork-scratchings!

Anyway, I removed the remnants of the pig-sty during my own excavations and recall that all of this made me think about our house’s title, “The Old Manse”. Manse means vicar’s house, and that is what this abode was. There was a now long-gone church across the street from us to which the “The Old Manse” was attached. There were several churches in the village but now only one and, by the way, a new Manse, simply called, “The Manse”. I imagine you have guessed, we each get the other’s mail and push through leaflets occasionally.

Ok, so where is the connection to the title do I hear you say? Frankly, there isn’t a strong one, so what follows is rather one of my ‘secondary’s’ or diversions -but here’s a tenuous connection. The duplication of Manse in the titles of the two houses (ours being one of them) and confusion it may cause got me thinking about names and naming – and how powerful it is. One of the additional links in the cohort linked to one of my ‘viewers’ in LinkedIn turned out to be no other than Randy Swing, a fellow academic of higher education. Randy is American and this name or rather his nickname abbreviation is commonly used in the USA. I have not met Randy, but I do l know of his highly reputable work.

However, I also know and have met (I invited Curt to give a plenary session on blended learning at Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia) another of my heroes, Curt Bonk, also an American. Well, we UK citizens probably are not very familiar with many Randys or Curts, and combined with those surnames, we English speakers, though I suspect the rest of the English-speaking world, including the-English as a second (or third, or fourth or whatever-th) language speakers will no doubt have been smiling since you encountered Randy’s second name let alone Curt’s!

So, this did get me reflecting on fame and a name. Perhaps there’s even more to it than the obvious show-biz crafted names for Cliff Richard (Harry Rodger Webb), Elton John (Reggie (Reginald  Kenneth) Dwight) and Sting (Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner). Perhaps a jaunty name in academia also confers an advantage. In my own previous discipline, Biomedical Science, Hamburger and Salmon were a famous pair of names in Cancer Research, Prof or Dr Brain’s, I suspect, are more common in the Medical field than in others. So, by extrapolation those who “make it” in the field of higher education research and practice may do so because they happen to have a name that carries kudos based upon sexual innuendo.

I’d ask you now to look at the three profiles that follow and tell me who you think would become famous. More importantly, to what should I change my name in order to improve my visibility and ultimately become famous?

Curt Bonk

Curt Bonk 1Curtis J. Bonk, Ph.D. Curt is Professor at Indiana University teaching psychology and technology courses. Curt is affiliated with the cognitive sciences program and is adjunct in the School of Informatics at IU. He founded SurveyShare, Inc. in 2003 which he sold in 2010. In addition, he has been founder and president of CourseShare, LLC since 1999.

Professor Bonk firmly believes in distance learning since he is a product of it. Dr. Bonk has been filmed in Dallas for a STARLINK program on blended learning, the Web 2.0, and best practices for teaching online. Curt is a popular conference speaker with several books in the area of emerging technologies for learning (see also Amazon author profile). He is currently conducting research in the field of self-directed open learning environments, online motivation, and Extreme Learning.

Accessed at http://mypage.iu.edu/~cjbonk/ on 22 February 2016.

Randy Swing

Randy SwingRandy Swing is currently Executive Director at Association for Institutional Research, Tallahassee, Florida Area, Education Management. The following Biography is Taken from a 2012 conference key note description, and is only illustrative: Published on Mar 5, 2013: Closing Keynote: New England Conference for Student Success, UMass Amherst, September 21, 2012. Accessed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hq_i_hjhm3Y   0n 22 February 2016.

The Association for Institutional Research (AIR) provides professional development and support for 4,000 members from 1,500 colleges and universities in using data for planning, managing and operating postsecondary institutions. He is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences, workshop leader, and author of books and articles on assessment, institutional research, and student success. Prior to joining AIR he was senior scholar and co-director at the Policy Center on the First Year of College and held leadership positions at Appalachian State University. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia.

He was Co-Director of the Policy Center on the First Year of College, located in Brevard, North Carolina. He develops assessment strategies and instruments for improving the first college year. He served on the development teams for Your First College Year (YFCY), a post-test of UCLA’s annual freshman survey and the First-Year Initiative (FYI), a national benchmarking study of first-year seminars. Randy moderates the First-Year Assessment Listserv; and served as editor of Proving and Improving: Strategies for Assessing the First College Year. He also serves as Fellow at the National Resource Center on The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition at the University of South Carolina. Until 1999, Dr. Swing held leadership positions at Appalachian State University in assessment, advising, orientation, and first-year seminar. Time Magazine named Appalachian a 2001 “College of the Year” for outstanding service to first year students.




Colin Mason

Colin Portrait

Colin Mason, Ph.D., M.Sc., B.Sc., G.C.E., is a distance learner, creator and provider of distance learning resources and experiences but is entirely committed to the need for meaningful encounters face-to-face. These apparently contradictory positions can be resolved if the term blended learning is brought in to play. Dr Mason may be termed an (aspiring) guru of one of the many definitions of blended learning, in this case: learning facilitated via a mix of distance – online mostly – and seminar room, face-to-face meetings such as required by Team-Based-Learning, TBL™ for demonstration of both formative and summative applied learning assessment strategies.

Now, no matter how excellent I make my own abbreviated (albeit) academic profile regarding distance or blended learning, Colin or Mason for that matter does not seem to have the right ring to it. What might?

Well, that’s all folks. Bye for now.

Buggs Sign off


2 thoughts on “45. (E)-Learning Gurus: what’s in the name?

  1. Hi Roni

    Thanks for your great response to Blog 45. We really envy you and your visit to Greece at this time of year – middle of Winter in Scotland, though I appreciate you were probably stuck in a seminar room for most of it. Where exactly were you? Glad to hear that you are old school regarding childhood discipline – us too!

    I fully agree with your observation about how one can be treated in the NHS, measuring anything that moves as well as stuff that doesn’t. I suspect the heavy-handed approach flows from the fear generated by poor standards that have come to light in a few instances recently – a lot of arse-covering, in other (naughty) words! I’ll give you an example from my experience too. Whenever my Chemo nurses are about to inject me with either Epirubicin or Oxaloplatin they go through the same rigmarole: What’s your name, date of birth etc. I could understand this at the first attempt to poison me, but everytime – including when I am getting a flush out with saline between courses – it beggars belief? The only other possible explanation I have conjured in my own mind is that they are gathering potential research data, and don’t want to miss any opportunities. Body weight is special since drug doses are calibrated for efficacy as well as toxicity and so a dose in milligrammes per kilogramme of body weight has to be calculated (for some potentially life-threatening drugs with only a fine margin between effecting a cure and causing side effects (including death!).

    Roni, you’re too kind about my name. Tel me though, Veronica, what instigated the change to Roni, and why have you stuck to it!? To save any embarassment you don’t need to answer this, but I am just curious!

    Love and best wishes


  2. hi, Colin.
    First of all, commiserations for both of you feeling shit (sorry) at the same time. That is really not fair, and I’m sure it never happened to Thelma and Louise in the film. I hope you get the chance to do the road trip at another point soon. John and I have done lots of those road trips, to his family in Lancashire, our old home in Bristol, and friends in the south east. We usually had two young kids in the car, wanting to stop at every lay-by for a wee, while I’m trying to slap their legs from the front seat (shame on me), to stop them fighting in the back (shame on them). Those were the days.

    I’ve been largely off line for a couple of weeks, running workshops in Greece, but have come back to have some NHS encounters which are sad to see in an organisation which I am passionately committed to. John’s mum is in hospital, having broken her hip at 88, and the experience is positive in a number of ways, but incredibly frustrating in others. Why do they keep measuring stuff? Eg the weight of a woman with a broken hip? Her blood pressure? People come and measure something and disappear, with no explanation of why. And trying to find somebody to ask about my mother in law’s progress is impossible – it’s like the staff try to body swerve you if you make eye contact. So you have my sympathy, Colin, and I’m full of admiration for your positive attitude. Sorry, any NHS folk reading this – I know you do wonderful work, but in some places it feels like communication has just about broken down, staff are under siege, and yet they’re ramping through a whole lot of procedural stuff that contributes nothing to the patient’s well-being.

    Re your elearning posting, Colin – people can have as fancy a name as they like, but unless they are engaging it won’t get them any further than the initial wry smile. You personally don’t need a double entendre name to be entertaining (and, of course, the two other guys you mention don’t either. Both good speakers.) Your name is a nice one, with a pleasing balance of two syllable words.

    I hope you and Elaine have got over your difficult few days and you’re on a more even keel again,



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