Tag Archives: Learning

bitcoin blockchain

Bitcoin and Blockchains explained

A slightly off-camber post here, but someone I trust mentioned that we ought to understand the bitcoin and blockchain development as it could be about to hit the mainstream. Here’s some explanation and videos to help.

The main point I hadn’t fully appreciated or understood is that bitcoin and the underlying blockchain is not just financial, although it is all about transactions – the transaction can be financial, but also information, knowledge, subscriptions, etc.? I think? It’s about the trust the chain has based on the underlying technology.

Bitcoin: “The system is peer-to-peer and transactions take place between users directly, without an intermediary. :4. These transactions are verified by network nodes and recorded in a public distributed ledger called the blockchain, which uses bitcoin as its unit of account.”

Blockchain: “The blockchain is seen as the main technological innovation of Bitcoin, since it stands as proof of all the transactions on the network. A block is the ‘current’ part of a blockchain which records some or all of the recent transactions, and once completed goes into the blockchain as permanent database.”

Watch this, see if it makes sense?

YouTube: The Bitcoin and Blockchain Technology Explained

“A block chain is a transaction database shared by all nodes participating in a system based on the Bitcoin protocol. A full copy of a currency’s block chain contains every transaction ever executed in the currency. With this information, one can find out how much value belonged to each address at any point in history.”

From this video I liked the section from 5:27, where I was thinking about the disruption to learning and education, especially how this fits in to the Internet of Things:

“Internet technology is disruptive and breaks the status quo. It opens markets and breaks the position of middle men all the time. Bitcoin and crypto-currencies have caused a paradigm shift. It’s time to explore this new technology constructively and critically and openly discuss potential applications.”

Here are some more links/videos to help explain bitcoin and blockchains:

  • Blockchain for dummies: “Non technical explanation of the block chain concept underlaying the Bitcoin network. This video is meant for people who want to get a grasp of this new technology.”
  • Understand the blockchain in two minutes: “Over the past decade, an alternative digital paradigm has slowly been taking shape at the edges of the internet. This new paradigm is the blockchain. After incubating through millions of Bitcoin transactions and a host of developer projects, it is now on the tips of tongues of CEOs and CTOs, startup entrepreneurs, and even governance activists. Though these stakeholders are beginning to understand the disruptive potential of blockchain technology and are experimenting with its most promising applications, few have asked a more fundamental question: What will a world driven by blockchains look like a decade from now?”
  • Blockchain: “It’s Going to Radically Transform Our Society’s Institutions” (Don Tapscott): “Don Tapscott, a leading theorist of the digital age, explains why the blockchain technology will fundamentally transform the institutions our societies are built upon. Because the blockchain technology powers the digital currency Bitcoin, it will not only affect how business is being made, but also our legal systems. Ultimately, the effect of the blockchain technology will be much more far reaching; it will also transform governance, healthcare, education, and various other pillars of our societies.”
  • The trust machine: “The blockchain is an even more potent technology. In essence it is a shared, trusted, public ledger that everyone can inspect, but which no single user controls. The participants in a blockchain system collectively keep the ledger up to date: it can be amended only according to strict rules and by general agreement.”

What do you think? Is there merit in the simplification of the ‘chain’ and trust of the networks that a blockchain can provide?

Image source: Dimitry (CC BY-NC 2.0)

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

Life's a beach #blimage

Life’s a beach #blimage

So, I’ve been convinced (it didn’t take much) to write a 4th #blimage post, this time from
Kate Graham.

You can read all my #bliamge 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).

I’m not a fan of cricket (which is what Kate has written about), but can appreciate how sport and a game like that can capture the passion and loyalty of a nation, especially when it’s going so very well, or so very badly, which is unfortunately how England seem to play. Kate’s challenge image, the beach scene above, is much more in keeping with my wandering soul / spirit and something that brings a lot of very strong emotions to the surface.

It is these emotions, as well as the image itself, that makes me accept the #blimage challenge here. Yes, I lived in Bournemouth for many years, just a 10 minutes walk from the wonderful sandy beaches for the last 12 years, before moving to the part of the country that is the furthest from the sea. We used to walk or cycle along the 7 mile promenade from Hengistbury Head past the two Bournemouth piers to Poole Harbour, sometimes getting the ferry to Studland and along the coast to Swanage. We’d often stop and get our feet wet, sometimes just sitting down and enjoying the sunrise or sunset.   Continue reading

Square peg, round hole #bliamge

Square peg, round hole #blimage

Another excellent image that so resonates with me, and as part of the amazing #blimage challenge too!  What a great start to the week.

if you’re interested in #blimage, what is is and why you should be involved, then read Steve Wheeler’s introductory post about it … then get involved and write something about an image. Any image.

You can read all my #bliamge posts here.

Sarah Honeychurch shared the ‘square peg, round hole’ image inviting responses and posts about what the image means. Well, I’m sure we can all relate to this?  Continue reading


Surfer Dude vs. Shark! #blimage

After the experience of my first #blimage post (Desks of Doom), and I saw the amazing challenges and responses, I couldn’t resist getting involved again. There have been many new challenges that I have an idea of what I would respond with, but it’s the ‘shark attack’ challenge from Phil Denman (Everything is not Awesome) that I wanted to follow up with.

But first, if this is the first time you’ve come across #blimage, here’s a brief summary of what it is. In short, Steve Wheeler (@timbuckteeth), in conversations Amy Burvall (@amyburvall) and Simon Ensor (@sensor63), started the #blimage challenge, which is:

“a confection of Blog-Image. (Yes, we are now in the age of blim!) You send an image or photograph to a colleague with the challenge that they have to write a learning related blog post based on it. Just make sure the images aren’t too rude. The permutations are blimmin’ endless.

So, my response to Phil’s challenge. I couldn’t resist simply as it uses Lego. It’s a funny set-up of shark chasing surfer dude … and for me it’s the representation of our attitude to the VLE and the student(s). For me the VLE is the shark, and the surfer is the student.  Continue reading

Desks of doom #blimage

Desks of doom! #blimage

In response to Steve Wheeler’s invitation, here’s my response to his #blimage request. But first, Steve explains #blimage as:

“You send an image or photograph to a colleague with the challenge that they have to write a learning related blog post based on it. Just make sure the images aren’t too rude. The permutations are blimmin’ endless.” Steve Wheeler, 2015

The above (banner) image is an edited version of the challenge, an image Steve set those of us who takes up his challenge – a row of fairly old flip-top desks.

The thing is, I hadn’t thought of these for years, but I sat at one from when I started at secondary grammar school to when I left after completing my A-levels! That’s a looong time (including resits)!!

So, what do they mean to me?  Continue reading

Wearable technology

Wearable Technology

I’ve been meaning to write about wearable technology for a while now, but have resisted because (a) everyone and his dog has written about it, (b) I wasn’t sure on why I was feeling so negative about it, and (c) I couldn’t actually be bothered.

So, what changed? Well, it was a reply tweet I got from Jason Bradbury last week. Jason, if you’re interested, is the face of The Gadget Show here in the UK. It started when Jason shared a tweet about Apple not being able to crack the wearable market with sales of their watch down on expected volume. I replied:

Continue reading

What makes a good online course?

What makes a good online learning experience?

Is it possible to define the qualities of what makes a good online learning experience, or a good MOOC? Is there a check list we could have pinned to the wall which we could use as we design and build our courses?

Here’s a few items I think the list needs, feel free to add your own ideas in the comments field below:

Presentation: Is the student able to relate to the subject and the presenter / educator? This is not always easy as the platform (Blackboard, Moodle, FutureLearn, Udacity, etc.) often controls how the materials are ‘presented’. Even with these constraints you do have options on designing your materials and laying them out in ways which make them easy to navigate or interact with.  Continue reading

How do you measure MOOCs?

How do you measure the ‘success’ of a MOOC?

Here’s a question I’ve been battling for some time .. how do you measure the ‘success’ of a MOOC? The problem is that I haven’t been able to define what the ‘success’ is supposed to be, so to try and measure it seems, well, a pointless exercise.

So, here’s a few thoughts I’ve had based on my experiences as a learner on MOOCs (yes, plural), and as part of a team developing and delivering 4 FutureLearn MOOCs now (with a few more in the pipeline too!).

  • Do you look for the headline figures of number of registered learners, or the number of registered learners that became learners (visited the course)?
  • Do you look for the number at the number of learners who did something, that engaged on the course in some way .. as either a number (e.g. 4,000) or as a percentage of the learners who visited the course (e.g. 40%)?
  • If you plan your MOOC to link to a paid-for course (degree, training, etc.) do you measure the success by the number of MOOC learners who enquire, or sign-up, to the linked course?
  • Do you look to the quiz or test responses, to see who’s retained and regurgitated the information based on a ‘score’?
  • Is it the final number of learners who make it through the length of the course to the end?
  • Is the number of comments a worthy of a measurement of success? Do courses that have more comments (either in volume or as a percentage of active learners) indicate a greater success than those with fewer?
  • Can you measure the success based on interactions on social media, through a defined hashtag? In which case do you measure the number of mentions on the hashtag or dig deeper and quantify the different sorts of engagements, ranging from “I’m on #such-and-such course” to enquiries or the detailed thought process involved in critical thinking along the lines of the MOOC subject?
  • Is a successful course one that takes learners from the MOOC environment into a related course, be it a MOOC or other paid-for course? If so, are you capturing that data?

Continue reading

Learning (Re)Imagined | Graham Brown-Martin

Learning {Re}Imagined

One book I’ve added to my wish-list bookshelf, but not had the funds to get yet, is Learning {Re}Imagined from Graham Brown-Martin.

Both professionally and personally the future of education interests me: my work at Warwick and my two primary school-aged boys. I know from my experiences in both these areas that schooling and teaching does not work, certainly not for everyone. So, what are we to do?

Do we, as Graham did, encourage children to drop out and explore other avenues? Whilst it worked for him, and other successful people like Sir Richard Branson, it could quite easily have gone the other way. It’s not enough to add more technology on to old teaching methods … as Graham says, “since when did teaching become a delivery system? … but to engage in all aspects of education from the support staff and students are given, resources availability and appropriateness, to the spaces we have to work in and with.

Far too many questions, far too few answers. But, so long as we’re asking the questions, we’ve raised awareness and, hopefully, we can begin to bridge the gap between what we want (or need) and what we have. Yes?

For the moment I’ll have to settle for Graham’s tweets and engaging with him on Twitter, and now this TEDx Talk:

Learning (Re)Imagined | Graham
Brown-Martin | TEDxAmsterdamED