Tag Archives: VLE

Reading List

Reading list: November 27th, 2015

Two weeks ago I posted a short list of a few of the more interesting articles or blog posts I’d been reading. I intend to keep this up, hopefully every fortnight (so it’s not too onerous for me to write or for you to read).

Here’s my second list:

I’ve also started reading the following books – both are well worth your attention!

  • Donald H Taylor: Webinar Master
    “A step-by-step guide to delivering compelling online presentations from a webinar expert and coach.”
  • Ed Catmull: Creativity Inc
    “Overcoming the unseen forces that stand in the way of true inspiration”

Image source: Bernal Saborio (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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


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

Digital Skills

Mapping Digital Skills in HE

A few weeks ago this image/infographic was doing the rounds and being tweeted in my network (thank you Catherine Cronin!) – mapping digital skills in Irish Higher Education.

Bringing together themes of ‘tools and technology, ‘create and innovate’, ‘communicate and collaborate, this is a wonderful resource that can help map and highlight how skills cross sectors and areas of knowledge and capabilities. Examples include the humble (?) VLE … crossing ‘tools and technology’, ‘teach and learn’, and ‘communicate and collaborate’.  Continue reading


Reflecting on 2015

Yes, it seems strange to ‘reflect’ on 2015 already, but here I go.

I am not going to join many other and write about my predictions for learning technology in 2015, or wax lyrical about developments over the past few years and where we’re heading. I’m just going to use my experiences as a Learning Technologist and my insider knowledge [wink wink] from collating and editing The Really Useful #EdTechBook – I’ll outline some of these ‘observations’.

There is plenty being written about developments in both technology and how we use it. Whether it’s wearable devices or looking at the increasing power and miniaturisation of our tablets, smartphones, and other mobile devices (although I acknowledge that smartphones are getting bigger. Yeah, go figure).

No, what I see happening in discussions I have, tweets I read, posts I comment on, etc. is that there is a growing unease in what we ‘want’ to see. Continue reading

Interview with Peter Reed, #EdTechBook chapter author

Interview with Peter Reed, #EdTechBook chapter author

The Really Useful #EdTechBook, edited by David HopkinsAs part of a new series of posts, I will be talking to authors of The Really Useful #EdTechBook about their work, experiences, and contribution to the book. In this third post I talk to Peter Reed, Lecturer (Learning Technology) at the University of Liverpool.

DH – Hi Peter. How does the use of technology, in all its various forms, affect your day-to-day working life?

PR: Massively. Beyond it being part of the day job, I use a variety of different tools and technologies to make my work more efficient and effective. I use things like Dropbox, Evernote and Mendeley a lot as they synchronise across my devices so I can access things whenever I need to. I see my use of these tools as part of my own little backpack or toolbox to call on. Interestingly the tools I use haven’t really changed much over the past 3 years or so, which I think is because I’m quite critical about new software/technologies when my existing workflows are effective for me personally. Ultimately, I think that’s a big part of being a Learning Technologist – rather than using tools/technologies for the sake of it, there’s some thought and critique to apply the right tools for the job.  Continue reading


Jack & Jill of all trades (@reedyreedles)

Peter Reed (@reedyreedles) has made some important and thought provoking posts recently. This is a kind of reply / addition / reflection / enhancement of those posts from my own perspective. Let the games begin … but first it’d help if you had read Pete’s posts:


That’s the short answer. I’m not sure there is even a question there, but I like what Pete has said, I agree with him on both posts. Learning Technologists (LTs) do need to be a Jack (or Jill) of all trades, a master of none (or nearly none).  Continue reading

Big Data Learning Analytics

Big Data, Learning Analytics, and the Learners

Big Data is the new buzzword. It’s not ‘big’ enough to topple MOOC from the lips of educatros, but it is becoming a topic that is being talked about more and more.

Firstly, what’s the difference between Big Data and Learning Analytics (if there is one)?

Learning Analytics, as defined by the 2013 Horizon Report is “big data applied to education”. There, that helped yes? No?

Then what is Big data? According to Lisa Arthur it is confusing in that it isn’t just one thing or the other, it is “a collection of data from traditional and digital sources inside and outside your company that represents a source for ongoing discovery and analysis”. Ed Dumbill says that Big Data is “data that exceeds the processing capacity of conventional database systems. The data is too big, moves too fast, or doesn’t fit the strictures of your database architectures. To gain value from this data, you must choose an alternative way to process it.

Continue reading


Know when to keep it simple

When it comes to developing materials and learning resources for your course, I think it’s important to know when to keep it simple.

We have all seen examples, or know of some, where every possible bell-and-whistle has been applied, in good intention, but the final result has made the course complicated and heavy.

Here are a few tips on how, and why, to keep it simple, which apply as much to online distance learning courses as well as campus courses:

  • Signpost: provide little ‘signposts’ to learning resources, assignment details, marking criteria, timetables, etc. to help the student. The larger the course or course materials then the more complicated the course structure could be, and the more lost a students will find themselves in your course.  Continue reading

Challenging mobile learning discourse through research: Student perceptions of Blackboard Mobile Learn and iPads

Student Perceptions of Blackboard Mobile Learn and iPads #edtech

From my previous post about designing Blackboard courses for a mobile-first delivery, and the discussion I’ve been having with Peter Reed and friends on his blog, this paper came at a good time to further the question “do we need this?” – AJET: “Student Perceptions of Blackboard Mobile Learn and iPads”

Well, do we? The paper concludes in saying that the students “did not demand mobile learning and were in fact mostly neutral about the experience” and that “they did not perceive a notable improvement to their learning” (Kinesh et al, 2012). While the students did not report an opposition to the inclusion of the mobile App, they also are not reported to have had any prior experience of it, a preference to mobile learning that was not limited to Blackboard Mobile Learn, nor they opinions (positive or negative) to mobile learning in general.  Continue reading