Friday, 24 June 2011

DD101 Introducing the Social Sciences - Distractions everywhere

I have now got an iPad2, I wasn't too sure about getting one of these things, but now I have it is seriously addictive, and I'm only writing this now so it can charge up again.

There are some seriously good apps for travel blogging and photo storage, manipulation and uploading, so I've been sort of lost in iTunes -land for most of this week. I can see it being really useful on holiday providing I can find the Wifi hotspots :-)

This week my 14yr old son is with us, so another excuse to ignore the books and concentrate on XBox and other non-study related activities.

Back to the books on Monday....honest.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

DD101 Introducing the Social Sciences - Week 19

The suggested time table for Week 19

Chapter 2 of Exploring Social Lives (7 hours) . 
‘A risky world?’(Audio CD 1) (1 hour) . 
‘Different types of academic writing’ (Developing skills Audio CD)(1 hour) . 
Online Activities 33 and 34 (2 hours) . 
Online Quiz: Exploring Social Lives, Chapter 2 (10–15 minutes)
To be completed by 24th June.

Well this Chapter is what TMA05 is all about and the questions is,
Write a report that examines how people use expert and lay knowledge about risks in order to live with them.

The main challenge for this TMA is writing a report rather than an essay, that is really the crux of the matter.

The content of the chapter was interesting if a bit thin. There was an interesting example of conflicting "expert knowledge" in relation to soil testing for poisons, but the bottom line was that the second test was designed to test in a way which made soil look safer than it was. The motivation of these tests was to make money, it was a commercial venture, not to provide accurate measurement of poison levels, and the fact that several of these tests brought back differing levels of results shows you pays your money and takes your chance.

The other example was about the dangers of sun exposure and again the "expert knowledge" usually has something to gain by encouraging the purchase of sun-block, sun-glasses, UV-block swim wear for children etc. So once again I guess you realise that you need to question any information you are presented with and ask what the motivation is behind that particular stance.

The last part of the Chapter was about Epidemiology, ‘lay’ epidemiology, ‘Uncle Norman’
and the ‘last person’ which was a useful examination of why lay knowledge is effected and changed by personal knowledge and experience.

So in similar fashion to the last TMA, I think all the information is there, its just a matter of getting it presented in a report format, rather than an essay.

Monday, 20 June 2011

DD101 Introducing the Social Sciences - Week 18

The suggested time table for Week 18

‘Introduction’ to the ‘Material lives’ strand of Exploring Social Lives (45 minutes)
Chapter 1 of Exploring Social Lives (7 hours) . 
‘Economic wealth and happiness’ (Audio CD 1) (1 hour) . 
Online Activities 31 and 32 (2 hours) .
Online Quiz: Exploring Social Lives, Chapter 1 (10–15 minutes)

To be completed by 17th June.

I am just catching up so I had a go at the Online activities and Quiz before reading Chapter 1 and managed a 5/5 on the quiz, which made me think that this Chapter may not be that taxing.... and its not.

The Chapter talks about different measures for wealth and economic output and shows that you have to be very careful that you understand the units of measurement, as slight changes to the wording of the measurement can make a huge difference in the figures.

The Chapter also examined a measurement for Happiness as although the population of the UK are more affluent than 20 years ago, levels of happiness have not increased. However, as we know that there are a small number of very rich people and a large number of comparatively poor people an average value of affluence is not very representative - perhaps a median value would have been better, and anyway, although we may earn more than 20 years ago, fuel, food, mortgages etc are also much more expensive - so we don't necessarily have more disposable cash.

The Chapter also highlighted an alternative Happiness calculation which took in to account the countries use of resources and amount of waste they produce along with average life expectancy and so other factor and surprisingly a remote pacific island in the middle of nowhere comes up as number 1 - really because they have avoided manufacturing and a modern consumer culture. Which just proves the point that you can use statistics to get any result you want.

A bit of a disappointment as I am keen to learn more about economics, but then again this isn't an economics course.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

DD101 Introducing the Social Sciences - Week 17

The suggested time table for Week 17
       This section of the Learning Companion (4 hours) 

       Exploring Social Lives DVD (6 hours) 
      ‘Studying the social sciences’ (Audio CD 1) (1 hour) .
      ‘Reflection: Pausing and moving on’ (30 minutes)

To be completed by 10th June.

So, I'm a bit behind with the reading and studying now, and this DVD has told me more about coal and coal-mining than I think I'll ever need to know.

Anyway, this doesn't seem to be part of the necessary study for the TMA, so it has been sort of skim-viewed, and I've listened to the CD and reflected - not too much of interest in either of them either - but at least the next chapter looks like it is about economics, so that should be more interesting.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

DD101 Introducing the Social Sciences - June Tutorial

Well after the pleasant surprise regarding the mark for TMA04, I went along to this tutorial all fired up about learning something to my advantage regarding TMA05 - but no such luck.

We did about an hour on simple stats calcs, percentages,  averages, means, median and modes and a bit on graphical representation of data, and then we talked about about the circle or circuit of knowledge - Questions, claims, evidence and evaluation. But to be honest I didn't really get much from this and the time and cost in traveling 45 mins there and the same back on a weekend meant it was probably not really worth it.

I will need to have a think about the value of attending the next one.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

DD101 Introducing the Social Sciences - TMA04 Marked and Returned

Well... the returned mark for TMA04 was a huge shock, exactly the same mark as TMA03, so I am really pleased and just a little surprised.

I spent a lot of time reading for this assignment and thinking about it, but comparatively little time writing it, so I did not have the luxury of the previous TMA's of re-reading, re-writing etc. - possibly this proves that this process actually achieves very little as the changes made are really fiddling around the edges.

The good things about this essay, according to my tutor, were:
  • Good description of the production of social order due to the work of Buchanan and Monderman, and not falling in to the trap of talking about the effectiveness of heir traffic management theories.
  • Good use of examples from previous chapters, 'seduced/repressed', 'identity work' etc. in fact I included just about anything I thought I could crowbar in from previous chapters - sometimes almost word for word.
  • Good but sparing use of Foucoult and Goffman, used only where appropriate and not trying to 'force' comparisons.
So on to TMA06 then and a new big book !

Friday, 3 June 2011

DD101 Introducing the Social Sciences - Week 16

The suggested time table for Week 16

     It’s time to take a break. 
     Online Activity 30
     ‘Reviewing and reflecting on skills’ (Developing skills Audio CD).

To be completed by 3rd June.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

DD101 Introducing the Social Sciences - TMA04 - Just in time

A long flight and touch of food poisoning added to the list of excuses as to why I've been struggling with this TMA. It was finally submitted with about 30mins to go before the noon deadline. Not a great submission and I'm not expecting similar marks to the others, but it should be a solid pass. Although in the rush to submit, I wonder if everything is has been written enough in my own words, still there are loads of references so it should all be OK.

Oh well, on to the next section then.......