Category Archives: eLearning

Customise me

Don’t give it to me unless I can customise it

My first car was a 1993 Rover Mini Cooper 1.3i, in British Racing Green (obviously). I bought it second hand in ’97 from John Cooper Garages (JCG) in West Sussex, and the legendary John Cooper himself handed my the keys (and made my mum a cup of tea while I did the paperwork).

Like so many people who own a Mini it didn’t stay ‘standard’ for very long, as I read through the Mini magazines on the kinds of things I could do to personalise the car. I went to Mini events, like the London-to-Brighton Mini Run and the 40th anniversary party at Silverstone, and looked over the show cars and private cars that were parked up, as well as the stands and auto-jumble traders. I bought the whole set of JCG brushed aluminium door furniture (window winders, door pulls, etc.) and chrome accessories (bling!), as well as doing more mechanical upgrades like vented discs and four-pot calliper for both front and read brakes, and a full-length straight-through (manifold to rear ‘box) DTM-style exhaust system (ooh, that was awesome!).

This was the start of my love affair with tinkering and messing with anything that’s standard to make it personal for what and how I like it.  Continue reading

Every Classroom Matters

Every Classroom Matters: How Teachers Can Self-Publish Books #edtechchat

Earlier this year I was invited to share my experiences of self publishing my work as eBooks with Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) on the Every Classroom Matters podcast, broadcast through the BAM Radio Network.

David Hopkins is a leading and respected Learning Technologist from the UK. He earned the award of Highly Commended Learning Technologist of the Year from the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) in 2014, and is the author of several books on and around learning technology and understanding the roles of Learning Technologists. His most recently self-published work is ‘The Really Useful #EdTechBook’, which is described as a ’mix of academic, practical and theoretical offerings is a useful recipe book for any Learning Technologist’ by Steve Wheeler, Associate Professor of Learning Technology, University of Plymouth.

In the recording we discuss the process and purpose of writing a book, the details of getting from Word to MOBI or EPUB files, the value and difficulties of different publishing platforms, etc. Here are some links to support it:

I’d be happy to chat and answer any questions you have – leave a comment below, or contact me on Google+ or Twitter.

Sketchnote ideas

Ideas for Sketchnotes

I’ve not had many opportunities to sketchnote in the past few months, but I keep the practice up by trying different style, different fonts, different ‘thinking’ and concepts.

But what i love is seeing what other people do and seeing if I can adapt and include in my own ‘repertoire’. So, where can you find ideas … try Google Image search!

A quick and easy search (and very basic) using terms like ‘people sketchnote‘ or ‘font skecthnote‘ or ‘sketchnote writing‘ or ‘sketchnote faces‘ and you’ll get some wonderful results.

Go on, try it and share your sketches:


Talk less, listen more

Meetings. Does anyone ‘like’ them?

Well, I do. I have had some amazingly productive and informative ones over the years. Sometimes they’re held in offices, sometimes in dedicated meeting rooms, sometimes over a cuppa in the campus cafe, and occasionally over lunch off-site. But what makes a ‘good’ meeting? For me a ‘good’ meeting is:

  • Needed – sometimes emails or phone calls aren’t enough to gauge progress, cover what’s needed, etc.
  • Short – not too short that you end up needing another one to cover what you missed (see later) but not too long that you end up going off topic and wasting time.
  • Purpose – everyone present knows the meaning and reason for the meeting, and sticks to the agenda and gets on with it, in the time allocated.
  • Equal – no one dominates the discussion or agenda unnecessarily.
  • Prepared – Everyone present should be there, no unnecessary invitees, and everyone is prepared for it.
  • Closed – clearly defined actions, if they’re needed, on who does what from here, and by when. if further follow up is needed then this is agreed in advance and timescales set.

Continue reading


The intrinsic and extrinsic value of academic blogging #LTHEchat

I’m not new to running or paricipating in tweet chats, in fact I’ve done a fair few over the last few years. And loved each for their own individual characteristics – here is a write up on two particular ways of running one.

This time I took part / facilitating in the 31st LTHEchat with my good friend Sue Beckingham. The invitation was broad and open to interpretation (scary!) but with help and discussion I settled on blogging, or more specifically academic blogging. So, to come up with six questions that would enable detailed yet flexible answers, in 140 characters (minus ones for the #LTHEchat text and any @names), and in a one hour time slot.

“This LTHEchat will be as much about blogging as the process of sharing. Do you blog and if so why do you blog? Are you blogging for yourself or for your professional profile? Indeed, is there a difference? Is it for reflection or progress? Join me and the LTHEchat community to share your ideas, experiences, pleasures, pains, and purpose.”

As per previous LTHEchat sessions everything has been collated into a Storify archive, or you can try and use the Twitter search archive for #LTHEchat, for what it’s worth.  Continue reading


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.  Continue reading

The Circular (Learning) Economy

The Circular (Learning) Economy

I recently attended an event, as part of the team filming it for colleagues, surrounding supply chains (how stuff gets to us). The speakers, Miriam Gilbert and Keith Freegard, spoke wonderfully about the need to do more to include a more circular (recycling) methodology to our manufacturing and processing industries.

And this got me thinking. What are we doing, if anything, about this with our learning? Can we show a similar approach, good or bad, in how we generate, connect, create, collaborate, communicate, curate? (sound familiar?)

But first … what is a circular economy? The Ellen MacArthur Foundation describes it as “a global economic model that decouples economic growth and development from the consumption of finite resources” and that it “provides new opportunities for innovation across fields such as product design, service and business models, food, farming, biological feedstocks and products.” In essence it’s the ability to re-use materials in the manufacturing of new ones. Nothing new, but the processes involved are often ground-breaking and at the forefront of cutting-edge technology.  Continue reading

ALTC 2015

The Interview Process #altc

From this year’s ALT conference I enjoyed (finally) meeting Wayne Barry, EdTechBook contributor, and chatting about his ALTC presentation.

Wayne’s presentation looked at a different way of interviewing candidates for Learning Technologist positions using standard questions and short presentations, but also the inclusion of a short role-play exercise. Each candidate is given advance notice that they will engage with an ‘academic’ who is interested in introducing elements of distance learning to their module. During the short exercise (many people took issue with the use of the term ‘role-play’) candidates will exhibit both knowledge of their discipline as well as the ability to listen, engage, problem solve, and debate with a member of the team taking the role of an academic.

So, how do you find out if someone will fit in to your office and team environment? Can you do this by just questions? Do competency based questions offer enough space for someone to fudge their way through the process, or rather offer the interviewers enough insight to see the tRuth behind the candidate?

This reminds me of this video, from Heineken: Job Interview. Slightly over the top, but you get the idea – by changing the process you find out many different things (hopefully good) about the candidates. Enjoy!

YouTube: Job interview at Heineken

ALTC 2015

Day 1 #ALTC 2015

This 10th ALT Conference is possibly the largest yet, hosted at the Universty of Manchester, over 3 days with 4 invited keynote speakers, 185 sessions (although some look to have been cancelled), and over 500 expected delegates.

Kicking us off today was an impressive session from Steve Wheeler and two of his students; Becca Smallshaw and Kate Bartlett. Steve covered the kinds of subjects I’ve heard him speak about before, but he stopped short of the usual keynote and handed it over to Becca and Kate. Using the time with them to talk about the expectations and experiences of students, they both handed the alien, and probably quite nerve wracking, experience of 500+ people hanging on their every word extremely well.

I spoke with Steve afterwards and he took great pains to explain that this part of the keynote was not scripted or rehearsed, that Becca and Kate knew very little of his slides; they kind of knew what he might ask them, but not in details. They were free to answer openly and honestly, which for me makes their performance and answers all the more credible and insightful. huge respect to them both for standing there today in front of us!   Continue reading

BLideo Italian Job

“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 #blimage 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.  Continue reading