For the first time in at least two years (if not longer) I spent three days in a row at our Bristol office. The office was much busier than it has been on previous visits, and there was a (little) bit of a buzz in there. I did have a few in-person ad hoc interactions with people, who I might not interact with online. You can create these online, but it isn’t easy.
I was asked if I preferred working from home, or working in the office. My response was I prefer to have the choice. The challenge I found with lockdown, was that I had no choice. Though I have preferences about space when I have specific things I need to do, I really quite like working in different environments and spaces.
I had to upgrade the Twitter client on my iPad. The old one, which I liked kept crashing and I couldn’t get it to stop. The new one, I do not like.
What do we mean by personalisation, what can we personalise, what should be personalise and what are the challenges in personalisation?
I have been looking at how data and technology can deliver a personalised learning journey and we have in our HE strategy the following ambition statement.
We will explore and develop solutions to help universities deliver personalised and adaptive learning using data, analytics, underpinning technologies and digital resources.
We know that there are very different opinions and views of what personalised learning is. One of the things I do need to do is to take that ambition statement and expand it into a clear explanatory statement, so that key stakeholders are clear about what we mean and why this space is important to higher education.
I have been preparing for Digifest next week where I will be attending both days.
I am also speaking at Digifest on Wednesday9th March 2022 from 11:45 – 12:30 in Hall 7B.
In this session, James will showcase Jisc’s HE sector strategy, Powering HE, and why and how we developed the strategy. He will explore what Jisc is doing and planning to do in the HE teaching and learning space. He will bring the session together with the impact the strategy is having on university members across the UK.
I use to post regularly every year a top ten of the technologies that helped me to do my job. The last one I did was for 2016, and my top technology was my iPhone, the iPad was in eighth place back then.
However we are talking shiny here and the iPad I think is one of those shiny gadgets that had a real impact on society, detect and education.
The tablet as a form factor isn’t that new, the Dynabook back in 1973 (complete with ebooks) was a concept which didn’t really connect.
In 2004 I had an HP Tablet (which were popular in hospitals) that used the Microsoft Tablet PC version of Windows. I did like the form factor, the pen input, just that the battery life was poor (a few hours) and the OS wasn’t really designed well for the way I wanted to use the tablet. This was the kind of device I wanted to use on the go, all day at a conference and on the train. However with a battery life of a few hours it wouldn’t even last the trip to London on the train; back then the trains I travelled on didn’t have power sockets!
When I first heard about Apple releasing the iPad my initial thoughts was that this was very much a consumer device. So much so I ordered one for me and didn’t get one through work. My iPad arrived on the day of release and I really liked it. A few weeks late I won an iPad in a prize draw. I did think about selling it, but in the end decided to use it as a work iPad, I didn’t think it would be that useful. Well I was wrong on that count, it was an incredible productivity device and changed very much my working patterns and the way I communicated and collaborated. I found it really useful for events and conferences.
I still use the iPad very much in the same way now as I did back then.
It is my favourite shiny gadget.
Though I didn’t post these posts each day in June (and to be honest I didn’t post it each day on the Twitter either) except the final day, I have decided to retrospectively post blog posts about each of the challenges and back date them accordingly. There is sometimes more I want to say on the challenge then you can fit into 140 characters (well 280 these days).
No Monday for me in the office this week, well it was Bank Holiday, so my working week started on the Tuesday.
Spent much of the week undertaking interviews for a project we’re doing for a university. I was talking to students about their experiences and what they wanted if and when they get back to campus.
There has been a clear lack of interaction between students, both academically and socially, leading to a lack of familiarity and difficulty engaging. Another familiar issue, identified by both students and staff, has been the very limited interaction between students. With the main face-to-face avenues for contact, socially or more formally through seminars, are not readily available via the digital environment. This was particularly noticeable amongst first year students, many of whom had very little interaction with their peers. This is clearly a very important part of university life and makes for a less rich student experience.
I have also been writing a report for another university which covers similar issues, as well as the challenges in embracing blended and digital learning.
My new iPad keyboard stroke cover arrived, which was great as the old one had stopped working. I had had a similar issue with my previous iPad as well. The iPad basically doesn’t recognise the external keyboard so spends a lot of time providing me with notifications that it doesn’t recognise the keyboard, which is equally as frustrating as the keyboard not working itself. Now at least I can use my iPad for writing.
We had an away day on Friday, which actually meant spending most of the day in a Zoom call. Now that’s exhausting.
Having said that it was quite a good and interesting day with some useful sessions. I facilitated a session with a DVC which went down well with the HE team at Jisc.
Over the weekend there was a huge amount of anti-university press in relation to Covid-19. I did think last week that this was just the beginning, when I posted my blog post about the uncertainty that the higher education sector was facing, when I noted a few stories about social distancing and isolation that was being reported in the press. I didn’t think that the story would blow up so soon! So much so that I wrote another blog post about all the stories that were coming in.
Radio 4’s Today programme made the mistake of thinking online was somehow cheaper and inferior.
Dear @BBCr4today why on earth do you assume that Online or blended learning should be cheaper? we have 100+ hours of interviews of university staff, they're working longer,harder to get that experience online & ready for the start of semester. And you think it should be cheaper!
This perspective of what was happening to students was an insightful read, to be failed and abandoned time and time again, at first by an algorithm, then by institutions is draining and hurtful, writes student Kimi Chaddah.
Imagine having overcome a reformed and rigid GCSE system. Next, your A-levels are cancelled and you have to forcibly fight your way to a university place. Then, you’re forced into social isolation in a new place with people you don’t know, all the while being told to “not kill granny” by a man who discharged hospital patients into care homes. Meet the students of 2020.
The anti-student sentiment continued, so much so, that Johnson in his Wednesday press conference actually was quite sympathetic towards the student situation.
What we do know is that virtually all students are attempting to stick to the rules, but it doesn’t require very many students to be infected to infect many more in halls and residences. They are using the same kitchens, the same hallways, the same doors. They are in the same shops, the same bars and coffee places and visiting the same places across campus. Continue reading The future is… – Weeknote #83 – 2nd October 2020→
On this day ten years ago, I said “Books are indeed wonderful things, but still, the iPad is the future of reading…”
This was the key focus of a talk I gave on the 1st October 2010 at ULCC’s FOTE10 event at The Senate House, at the University of London.
This was the second time I had spoken at FOTE, having delivered a session the previous year on the future of learning.
There was a bit of a backlash against ebooks back in 2010, as people felt that they weren’t as good as “real” books. For me they weren’t a replacement for books, they enabled different ways of reading. For many ebooks and e-book readers enabled a new way to access books and content, that otherwise would mean they wouldn’t have access.
The purpose of my talk was to discuss the value and potential value of ebooks and to differentiate between the act of reading and the medium of reading.
In the first part of the presentation I focused on the book and the physicality of the book, as well as the reading experience. I also wrote about this back in 2010.
There is something very beautiful and sensual about a new book. Anyone who has ever bought a new book will know what I mean. Whether you open the parcel from Amazon, or remove the book from a bag of a high street bookseller, there is something about the smell of a new book, the feel of the roughness of the paper between your fingers as you slowly flick from page to page. As you open it for the first time you can feel the stiffness of the spine of a book that has never been read. The smoothness of the dust jacket, the rough texture of the cover, combine to produce a tingling feeling of excitement as you realise you are about to open the book and start to read.
There is even something about a used book, or one from a library. What is the history or legacy of the book? Who read it before you? Where did they read it? How did they feel when reading it? Did they share it with others? Even the annotations, that can be annoying, give a flavour of how previous readers of a book felt and used the book.
Books are extremely portable, they can be easily carried to any location and used. They fit into a multitude of bags and can be used whether you are a passenger in a car, on a train or flying in a plane. You can use books at home, in a coffee shop, on the beach, in a library, a classroom or in the park.
Books have an unique user interface that has never been adequately duplicated on any electronic device. You can flick from section to section, page to page. You can highlight and annotate. Put sticky notes on specific pages. Use a series of physical bookmarks to identify sections.
Books are also easily lent, libraries know this, but I am sure you like me have lent a book to others. You want them to share that feeling you get when reading a book for the first time, something you can’t get back when reading a book for a second time.
Now in 2020 I don’t think that much has changed in how people feel about physical books, if anything the importance of the physicality of books has increased for people. As I did predict, we didn’t see the end of physical books, we still have bookstores and people still buy physical books. If anything bookstores have recognised that buying books isn’t just about the books, it’s the whole experience of buying the book. Publishers now recognise that people appreciate the physicality of books and have spent time ensuring that books are now more than just the words, focusing on the covers and look of the book as much as the content.
In the second part of my talk I started talking about ebooks. These have been around since the early 1970s, so they aren’t new, I talked about access and the growth of ebooks.
In May 2011 Amazon.com announced that its ebook sales in the US now exceeded all of its printed book sales. However by 2016 we started to see a decline in ebook sales, with paperback book sales higher than e-book sales. Despite concerns about ebooks killing the books market, this didn’t happen. In the UK e-book share went up from 20% to 33% between 2012 and 2014, but down to 29% in the first quarter of 2015.
What was new ten years ago was the growth of the consumer market for ebooks, the Kindle and in 2010 was the exciting then new iPad. This was the focus of the third part of my talk, which looked at ebook readers. In 2010 there was a range of ebook readers available, most hardware suppliers had their own range of devices, as well as their own ebook stores. By early 2017, smartphones and tablets had both individually overtaken e-readers as methods for reading an e-book. Now in 2020 we have seen a dramatic decline in the variety of readers and stores, with Amazon dominating the consumer market. Though the use of ebooks in education though has become embedded into learning and teaching in 2020.
The fourth part of my talk was about then then new iPad. Since then we’ve had 22 more iPad models, but all of them have a built in app for reading, what was called iBooks and now Books.
For me the fifth part of my talk was probably the real reason saying the iPad is the future of reading and I also think something that hasn’t been realised even now in 2020.
I took the analogy of transport, that the first horseless carriages were literally carriages without horses, but the future of the carriage became cars, trucks, buses and other forms of wheeled transport.
So to bring it back to books, I talked about how after printing the bible the next biggest thing to be published by printers was plays. A printed play though isn’t in any way a replacement for watching a play. However what printing did allow was more different ways in presenting text and content, from newspapers, magazines as well as books.
In the next section I demonstrated some real ebooks that you could get on the iPad, including interactive books, books incorporating video and audio, as well as traditional ebooks.
So in 2010, ebooks were digital versions of real books, what I did think we could see in the future at that time, utilising the potential of devices such as the iPad, was to create new and exciting reading experiences. I don’t think now in 2020 that we’ve got that, so I do think I still stand by the iPad is the future of reading.
Today ebooks are part and parcel of education with easier access to books by students from academic libraries. However we still don’t have that next generation of ebooks that could potentially transform learning and teaching.
On this day nine years ago I was presenting and giving anoverview of the current state of play of mobile tech and MoLeNET for the JISC Cetis Mobile Tech Event on the 15th June 2010 in Bolton.
Here are the presentation slides I delivered.
I created the slides in Apple’s Keynote application before saving them as images which I then imported into Powerpoint.
I thought it would be interesting to reflect on what we thought then was the state of play then and what the current state of play is.
June 2010 was just two weeks after the iPad was available in the UK and people were still wondering what to do with it and what it’s potential was, I used the image of iPad boxes to show that this was going to be a “something” and I think we can say it certainly had impact.
Not just putting the tablet as a mobile device into the heads of consumers and educators, but also the influence it had on smartphones as well. I don’t think we would have the huge large screen smartphones we have today if it wasn’t for devices such as the iPad and notably the iPad mini.
In most of my presentations I usually put a slide like this in.
There was still a culture of presenters asking people to turn off devices, give me your full attention and all that. Today I think we have more idea of if we want to use our device or not at conferences and presentations. I certainly wanted people to think about what I was saying, but also join in the conversation using new tools such as the Twitter!
In the presentation I started to look at the news headlines of the day
Apple had released their iPhone in 2007, now three years later it was having a huge impact on the market for phones.
Today the figures are somewhat different, there is no more sign of Nokia, RIM, HTC or Motorola, but look how Samsung dominates that market along with Huawei and other Chinese manufacturers.
Another headline was the success of the iPad.
What was interesting was how much the iPhone (and the iPad) were used to browse the mobile internet back in 2010.
Today most smartphones are capable of web browsing, mainly as most websites are now mobile optimised, making it a much easier experience than trying to navigate a desktop enabled site on a mobile browser. The other big change has been the growth of smartphone apps.
Back then the data limits with mobile contracts was really limiting.
Though these limits are still here today, having an unlimited data contract is no longer the realm of business accounts, consumers and students can access contracts with unlimited data more easily and quite cheaply as well. The data landscape has changed as well with 4G speeds being widespread and we are on the edge of the 5G world as well. The other factor that has changed is the widespread availability of wifi.
I really find these data usage patterns for the O2 network for 2010 incredibly low compared to today.
This report describes the results of a series of discussion workshops where experts and experienced practitioners explored visions of how mobile technologies and devices will influence practice in Higher Education (HE) and Further Education (FE) in the near future. The workshop series was funded by the UK’s Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) as part of the Emerge Community within JISC’s own Users and Innovation research programme. This exploration focused on identifying emerging issues for the sector arising from the increasingly likely large scale use of Smartphones, PDAs and camera phones by learners in HE and FE, both on campus and in the workplace.
One of the things that is apparent from the report is how different mobile learning was back then compared to now. The main difference is the increase in bandwidth and connectivity. Then there was quite a bit of reliance on offline mobile learning and SMS texting. Today we see the use of mobile optimised web sites and apps.
However some of the issues in the report, highlighted in my presentation are still relevant today.
Training is still an issue, and not just with the technical side of things, understanding the affordances of mobile devices and mobile learning as well isn’t something that just happens and people instinctively know.
As discussed above, the issue of connectivity. Luckily today we have much better and more reliable wifi and mobile connectivity. This allows for mobile learning without the learner having to worry about being connected. Faster speeds allow for real time video chat, as well as streaming high quality video whilst on the move.
Collaboration back then often meant asynchronous textual conversations, as poor or expensive connectivity meant that real-time chat and conversations were not a possibility. Today collaboration is so much easier and can be done with audio or even video chat.
I also mentioned the Twitter.
As well as issues I also in the presentation talked about the fears that practitioners often felt when it came to mobile learning.
The cultural shift towards the use of mobile devices and learning whilst mobile, was something that hasn’t really gone away.
There is still resistance to change despite advances and increases in the use of mobile technology. Often though people are happy to discover and use mobile devices for their own stuff, using mobile devices for learner is still a step too far for some.
One reference I think still stands is how as learning technologists we often think we come over as Luke Skywalker, here to “save you”.
We do need to remember that others mainly see us as…
Resistance is futile.
One important aspect that is equally important today was privacy.
With the increase in data gathering, location data gathering and increase in analytics, what was a real issue in 2010 is a much bigger issue today.
Having discussed the state of play back in 2010, I then went into discuss the MoLeNET project.
It’s interesting to see what has changed and what has remained the same.
This year I have written only 17 blog posts, in 2017 it was 21 blog posts, in 2016 it was 43 blog posts, in 2015 I wrote 24 blog posts. In 2014 I wrote 11 and in 2013 I wrote 64 blog posts and over a hundred in 2012. In 2011 I thought 150 was a quiet year!
The tenth most popular blog post in 2018 was asking So do signs work? This article from 2013 described some of the challenges and issues with using signage to change behaviours. So do signs work? Well yes they do, but often they don’t.
The post at number nine was my podcast workflow, published in 2011, this article outlines how and what equipment I use to record the e-Learning Stuff Podcast. This is only one way in which to record a remote panel based podcast, and I am sure there are numerous other ways in which to do this. I have also changed how I have recorded over the two years I have been publishing the podcast due to changes in equipment and software. It’s probably time to update it, though I am not doing as much podcasting as I use to.
Dropping three places to eighth was 100 ways to use a VLE – #89 Embedding a Comic Strip. This was a post from July 2011, that looked at the different comic tools out there on the web, which can be used to create comic strips that can then be embedded into the VLE. It included information on the many free online services such as Strip Creator and Toonlet out there. It is quite a long post and goes into some detail about the tools you can use and how comics can be used within the VLE.
The post at number seven, climbing one place, was Comic Life – iPad App of the Week. Though I have been using Comic Life on the Mac for a few years now I realised I hadn’t written much about the iPad app that I had bought back when the iPad was released. It’s a great app for creating comics and works really well with the touch interface and iPad camera.
Sixth most popular was a post from 2018, called “I don’t know how to use the VLE!” This blog post described a model of VLE embedding and development. This post was an update to the model I had published in 2010.
Holding at fourth, is Can I legally download a movie trailer? One of the many copyright articles that I posted some years back, this one was in 2008, I am still a little behind in much of what is happening within copyright and education, one of things I do need to update myself on, as things have changed.
Once again, for the sixth year running, the number one post for 2018 was the The iPad Pedagogy Wheel.
I re-posted the iPad Pedagogy Wheel as I was getting asked a fair bit, “how can I use this nice shiny iPad that you have given me to support teaching and learning?”. It’s a really simple nice graphic that explores the different apps available and where they fit within Bloom’s Taxonomy. What I like about it is that you can start where you like, if you have an iPad app you like you can see how it fits into the pedagogy. Or you can work out which iPads apps fit into a pedagogical problem.
Over the last few years I have been, rather than taking notes in the keynotes (and other sessions) at the ALT Conference #altc drawing pictures. This is sometimes called sketchnoting.
My sketch notes are really for me, rather than other people. The process of sketching allows my to digest for myself what is been talked about and demonstrated. The sketch note provides me with a mechanism that provides a process for my interpretation of what is being said and what I understand from the talk. The process of sketching engages me in the talk in ways in which note taking does for others, or conversing on the Twitter. They are not done for other people, if other people find them useful then that’s just a bonus. Having said that I do share them online, through Twitter (and Flickr).
Back in the midst of time, well 2009, I wrote this blog post about packing stuff for the ALT Conference. Nearly ten years later, it’s probably time for an update, things and stuff change.
Six-Way Gang – I still think a six way gang is an useful thing, instead of fighting people for the power sockets, you can immediately make five friends! Having such an adapter is also useful in the hotel room when you want to charge everything up for the following day and you have limited plug sockets. When I mentioned the previous article on the Twitter someone told me about the USB charging stations you can now buy. With so many devices reliant on USB charging then these could be useful, but then I have a laptop that needs a proper plug socket. The other thing that someone recommended was an external high powered battery pack for charging devices. If you are coming from outside the UK, then a trick I do (going the other way) is to bring a extension gang and then you only need one UK plug adapter.
Coffee and Snacks – I don’t drink instant coffee and usually that it is what is only available in hotel rooms. I use to take coffee bags or Rombout Coffee filters. Today I take a small cafetière and some ground coffee. I also bring my own mug, I want a mug of coffee and not a cup of coffee. I also have one of those cafetière mugs when space is a premium. Of course if you drink a specific brand of tea, then take some of those, you can’t always rely on Twinings being in the hotel room. Having arrived at the hotel, I usually pop out and get some fresh milk. It’s also useful to take the time to see what independent and local coffee places are near to the venue, which can be used instead of queuing for that awful conference coffee. I also bring a few snacks with me as well, as that solitary small pack of biscuits you usually get.
Chargers – Don’t forget your chargers, expensive to replace, difficult to borrow, make sure you pack yours. The other thing about power is investing in a higher powered adapter (or borrowing one from a friend). As Apple says here
Using an Apple 12W or 10W USB power adapter charges some Apple devices and accessories faster than a 5W power adapter.
I find that when charging my iPhone using the adapter that came with my iPad Pro and it charges the phone so much faster, which is an useful thing to know for a conference. This means you can do a quick “supercharge” of your iPhone ready for the next keynote. Also useful to know that the 5W power adapter potentially can charge your iPad Pro, but only if you aren’t using it for eight hours or more….
Photography and Video – I use to take a camera to conferences, today I use my phone. If you take a lot of photographs then check you have a lot of storage space on your phone, or at least one way to take the pictures off. I try and remember to empty my camera roll before I go to the conference. However if you like to take a lot of video then I personally would take a separate additional video camera.
Connectivity – I am sure that the WiFi at the conference venue will be fine, however what about at the hotel, the dinner, the train… Technological changes means that connectivity is more important that in the last few years. Yes there is a plethora of places to get free wifi, but there are some security considerations to take into account. I normally use tethering on my iPhone and make sure I have enough bandwidth to do that. Other options could include some kind of MiFi device. I use to have one of those which acted as a wireless access point for up to five clients, which worked great in the time. I think one of the challenges with some venues is that 3G/4G connectivity can be very patchy.
Display cables – If you are presenting, then ensure your laptop can be connected somehow to the projector, you can’t always rely that the VGA adapter you have will be good enough. I now take an HDMI cable with my too. I also take my Lightning to HDMI adapter so in theory I can present from your iPhone or iPad. It also means I can connect to the hotel TV and watch what I want on the big screen.
USB Stick – In a world of cloud storage, you might think why would you need an USB stick. I have been caught out and needed to quickly move my presentation to a presenter machine. Despite the proliferation of the cloud or potential sharing solutions, I find sharing via an USB stick is quick and easy.
SD Card – If using a device with an SD Card I usually carry a couple of spare SD Cards, just in case I lose one, or fill one of the others up.
USB Cables – Due to the differing sizes of USB, normal, micro and mini, I now carry three of them! I also carry a couple of Apple lightning cables too.
Paracetamol – some of those presentations do give you headaches…
This is an updated version of this blog post from 2016. It now includes details of the 2016 and 2017 conferences.
Reading Maren Deepwell’s recent post about her #altc journey, it reminded me of the many conferences I have attended and like her the impact that they had on my life and professional practice. Going back to my experiences of my first ALT-C I was surprised I even went again!