We built a treehouse – Weeknote #45 – 10th January 2020

Image by Th G from Pixabay
Image by Th G from Pixabay

It’s a new year and a new decade.

I am still a little surprised that it’s 2020, as it appears to be so futuristic, but we seem to be living in a Children of Men or Handmaid’s Tale future rather than the utopia of the future that I imagined in my youth.

Monday I spent the day catching up with e-mail, even though most people had been off over the festive period, a lot seemed to have started back on the 2nd (when I was still off). I also took the time to get back into gear and work-ready.

I wrote a first draft of a blog post for the Data Matters 2020 conference , that is taking place on the 5th May 2020. The essence of the post is the importance of thinking about data now, in the contect of future needs of data. This isn’t just about the technical aspects of data, but importantly the people aspects as well.

I was reminded that this week ten years ago we had some of the worst snow for forty years…

Snow

Tuesday I was travelling to Leeds where I am attending the ALT Learning Spaces SIG on Wednesday. Leeds always seems a lot further away than I think it is. The ALT Learning Spaces SIG was on Wednesday and this was an interesting get together.

As well as hearing about the challenges facing universities such as Leeds and Loughborough, there was also a excellent workshop in the afternoon looking at the challenges in converting an existing formal learning space (which wasn’t working) into an informal space for learning. I started to draft a blog post on this workshop. The concept we looked at was building a treehouse.

LSSIG Meeting in Leeds
LSSIG Meeting in Leeds

On a mailing list I am on, the following question was asked:

I’m doing a project about bitesize CPD/microlearning in a professional development setting for my MAODE module, and wondered if anyone knows of any other relevant projects which I might be able to draw inspiration from? 

Back in 2013 I developed a series of small CPD sessions entitled Short and Sweet

Short and Sweet

The concept was (slightly techno centric) to attend a team meeting (or day) and deliver a short 15 minute training session. The concept was to provide a taster, to tease and to inspire. Where possible there would be a follow up session available so that if so inspired they could then go to a more in-depth practical session. There is no one model that fits all needs, so though these “Short and Sweet” sessions lasting fifteen minutes, this is not the only model of development we delivered, there were also sessions lasting an hour, half a day and even the odd whole day development.

An example Short and Sweet presentation on Adobe Connect

I also presented to the Jisc Experts Group about the impact.

It worked really well and many other teams started to use the term, saying things like “should we “short and sweet” this training?”

I am aware of a couple of universities that “borrowed” the concept for their own training.

On Friday I was reminded of this blog post from 2011 about dull technology.

The importance of dull technology

My thoughts back then were that

For those of us involved in extreme e-learning or technology enhanced learning, we sometimes focus on the innovative, the exciting, the new, the shiny stuff. Well it’s where we want to be isn’t it, cutting edge and all that?

Those involved in embedding technology into learning and teaching can sometimes get rather snobbish about “boring” and “dull” technologies.

We can even be dismissive of these dull technologies, pointing out how old they are, how useless they are “now” and that they are dead!

There is something important about the dull technologies and how people use them.

The main reason why dull technologies are important is that the majority of practitioners within an institution will not be at the cutting edge, will not be using all technologies innovatively. This means when planning training and staff development it is vital that dull technologies are included and allowed for. Just because we are bored with something doesn’t mean that someone else in your organisation will find it exciting and just the thing to solve the particular problem they are facing.

Re-reading this blog post I am reminded that the technology is not a static thing, there are many new and shiny technologies emerging into education, and existing technologies start to lose their shine and become dull.

We may like the shiny, but the dull may be the technology that makes a difference.

My top tweet this week was this one.

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