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Gary Sweet was my swimming teacher

Gary Sweet

Our Creative Director, Jesse Kingsley, used to be a pool attendant in the 90s. He talks fondly of the position; halcyon days, simpler times, all sprayed with chlorinated water and discount confectionary from the pool kiosk.

The other day, I was having lunch at my desk, when Jesse came up to me and said: “Gary Sweet was my swimming teacher”. I lifted my head up from an exquisitely baked chicken pie and told him that I once had a parking altercation with the lead singer of Dexys Midnight Runners. A weird stalemate developed where neither of us knew which story was better. That’s when our Head of Business Development chimed in with a story about dating Sting’s cousin’s daughter.

Later that day, Jesse wondered if Gary would remember him if they ever met on the street. I asked Jesse if he’d done anything out of the ordinary during the swimming lessons, and he said no, he hadn’t. But then he smiled and said: “Yes he would remember me! Because back then, my last name was Beaver!”

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the biscuit years

toilet-c

uncle fraser

was bat shit crazy

his wife was a jehovah’s witness

I never

understood

what

she’d seen

but fraser

scared

me

loud, white haired: thief beater

he only

ever

asked

me one question:

‘what’s in the bag?’

and his wife,

the

witness,

made

me sandwiches

with

tomato

sauce

 

at night the cabin boy hid in the shadows

they told me

that

I

was going to a school for

“bad boys”

where there were

no

chocolate biscuits

or

fizzy drinks,

I

sat on the edge

of single figures

and

thought

about

this,

no chocolate biscuits?

no fizzy drinks?

this was my first deal breaker

so

I

put down the

knife

and

went to bed.

I had captain pugwash wallpaper to look at

 

hill primary blues

andrew spittal

was

known

as the bad Andrew

he

was

in the other class

with

another

bad person/boy/pestiferous fumarole

I

once

saw him

spit on another boy’s back

and

laugh.

but

he grew up to be

a very

nice

man

with good taste

in

music

The eLearning module’s new clothes

buffalo

Good eLearning is about as rare as good poetry. We’re led to believe that if it’s interactive and gamified, then it’s both contemporary and cutting edge. But what happened to substance? It’s all very well having a stylish looking module, equipped with all the bells and whistles money can buy but does it adequately communicate a message? Basically, is anybody actually learning anything?

Substance comes from knowledge and knowledge comes from thorough research. A good eLearning module is not unlike an essay that conveys a central contention. Every central contention is built upon a solid research platform that endeavours to build an argument.

So, what’s the difference between an argument and an opinion? Well, an argument is based on research, and an opinion is not. Simple as that. Good eLearning modules should never be regarded as opinions, otherwise the learner will, and shouldn’t, have any faith in the product.

Substance is easy to spot. It’s the sentence that’s packed with water tight ideas, garnished with a modest sense of confidence.

I think that these sentences have been lost in the drive to make eLearning modules look ‘pretty’. Now, I’m not against bells and whistles, in fact I extol their shiny virtues. However, they’re often used to mask the fact that the central contention of the module has no soul, and is devoid of any research.

It’s a bit like the story about the Emperor’s New Clothes, a tale by Hans Christian Andersen about a couple of cowboy weavers who promise the Emperor a new suit of invisible clothes but who are incompetent, and bestow upon him an invisible suit. They assure him that it’s the height of fashion and he’s so vain that he believes them and parades through the town completely naked. This is what we call a logical fallacy; faulty reasoning in the construction of an argument.

We’re told that these bells and whistles in a module are ‘state of the art’, the way forward in eLearning but more often than not they mask the fact that the soul of the module, the argument, is missing, or incomplete.

Education is regarded as one of the pinnacles of so-called civilization. However, it’s merely become another product we take to market, and so many of these modules we churn out are actually naked, logical fallacies walking down the main street like the vain Emperor, unaware of the mocking crowd.

Ps. We don’t build modules like that…