My new role started on a Friday, though the previous few days there had been quite a bit of handover, so on my first day I spent more time disengaging from my previous role than on the new role. It was both therapeutic to remove myself from various channels on Slack, but then slightly disappointing to find that there were only two left I was members of. I have found Slack to be an ideal communication tool, replacing much of the annoyances I find with e-mail. At the same time I was leaving Slack I found myself being added to various teams in Teams. Given a choice I much prefer the user experience of Slack over Teams and I still find Teams somewhat confusing. So one day into the new role and I hope to use weeknotes to reflect on my new role and the work I will doing in this space.
I will also be posting my top tweet over the last seven days….
This week it was this one.
Sealing off parts of WHSmith in Bristol today. This isn't an image for @WHS_Carpet as this is refurbishment not normal day to day operations. Can you tell the difference? pic.twitter.com/elCjCEGXif
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.
Five years ago or so I gave a presentation at an RSC South West event about my favourite iPad apps, ones I used on a regular basis for my work. Back then the iPad was still relatively new and shiny but there were still lots of apps available.
Today there are even more apps, the iPad is more powerful and we have a stylus (pencil). I have also changed jobs (a few times) so my work needs are different to back then. Another aspect is my default phone is the iPhone 6s Plus, the bigger screen makes a real difference to how I use the phone and I use it more like a mini iPad than just a phone.
So I thought I would talk about some of my favourite apps that I now use. Going through the list I am surprised by how many apps are apps that access cloud based systems. I have also found that I now less likely to try out new apps and that this blog post may get me thinking differently, trying out some new apps and revitalising my App of the Week series of blog posts, of which the last one was Prisma back in 2016… which is the only one in the last five years. A lot of apps have come and gone in those five years and there are lots of new apps too. Many of the apps I have reviewed have also changed quite dramtically, so I might re-review those apps too.
However here are some of my favourite apps that I use regularly now.
Though you can add an Exchange account to the default Mail App on iOS, I much prefer to keep things separate and use the Outlook App. It is a little limited compared to the desktop app and desktop browser experience, but for answering e-mails quickly and checking my calendar it is a nice app.
I really like using this app for sketch noting, combined with the Apple Pencil I can create pictures of the presentations I have been to, and looking back I can reflect on what impact they had and what they did to make me think. I’ve said before that I do sketch notes for myself, but it would appear that other people quite like them.
When it comes to editing images for posting to Flickr, Instagram or the Twitter, then I have a real fondness for Snapseed which has an amazing array of settings, filters and processes for manipulating and enhancing your images.
In my work I use Jira and Confluence quite a bit and therefore find the iOS apps for these two services useful to quick referencing and checking, less to actually use the services which I prefer to use a browser on a desktop for. Having said that I dislike how I am regularly locked out of the apps and it is a bit of a faff to add the password to get back in.
So do you use Slack? I find the iOS version of Slack just as good as the desktop app. It’s easy to find conversations you’re involved with, or to browse through a channel stream. Calls can be a little more complicated, but I like how I can connect to a Slack call on the iPhone, but then contribute to the channel using the iPad or the desktop at the same time.
So there are a few of my favourite apps, what are you using on your iPad or iPhone?
Despite many people talking about the death of the VLE over the years, the institutional VLE is still an important component of most colleges and universities offer in the online space. Whether this be supporting existing programmes of study, those offering a blended approach, or even for fully online programmes.
For most universities and colleges, growth in the use of the VLE is relatively organic, with little planning on either side. Training is often focused on the mechanistic and technical aspects of the VLE. Some training looks at the learning first, but without understanding the potential of the functionality or the affordances of the VLE, it can be challenging for practitioners to work out how to use the VLE to meet the needs of that learning activity.
The end result is an inconsistent approach to how practitioners use the VLE which can be confusing for learners who have multiple modules or courses delivered by different people. The other end result is that sometimes an inappropriate function of the VLE is used resulting in a challenging experience in learning something, with the challenge being using the technology, not understanding the learning.
One of the attractive aspects of any VLE is the range of functionality that it offers allowing practitioners (academics, teachers, lecturers) many different ways to engage with learners and create learning activities.
What’s the first thing you do in the morning? What’s the first thing you do when you sit down at your desk at work? I suspect you are probably checking your e-mail? It wouldn’t surprise me that you leave your e-mail client (like Outlook) open all the time and respond as those little pop-ups appear on your screen. So how often do you check your e-mail?
Actually I would think that if you are reading this blog, having seen the link on social media, that your answers to those questions would differ from the norms of the behaviour of most people in the workplace.
For many people e-mail is their work. Usually the first activity when arriving at work (after making a coffee of course) is checking the e-mail. Then throughout the working day the e-mail is checked and checked again. Productive activity is interrupted by those lovely notifications popping up. Mobile devices like the iPhone suddenly make e-mail even more accessibly, those red numbers going up and up and make it essential the e-mail is checked again, even when travelling, at home and at weekends. Work is e-mail and e-mail is work.
I find it interesting how often we default to e-mail as the main communication tool, to the point where it replaces other forms of communication or discussion. People also often use e-mail for various activities that really e-mail wasn’t designed for.