Saturday, December 31, 2011

Reflections on a Busy Year – Part Three

I am certain as ever there are hordes of tools out there that do all the things I do in a much more time efficient way with a higher communication impact. But here are some reflections on trends I have seen this year.

Google Docs – I’ve been using this a lot for collaboration across and beyond our organisation. Challenge when tools arrived was to get other folk comfortable with this technology and happy to contribute in a crowd sourced way.  I’d predict much more use of tools like this across the public sector and folk become socialised to this way of working.

Twitter – In one way probably an enemy to joined up thinking – most folk who tweet think we hang on every post. I’ve been in a few meetings where folk think because they have broadcast something that everyone has read it and that everyone understood what it was about.   With those caveats Twitter remains a very effective way of following lots of change across range of sectors and sharing useful links

MOOCs – Massive Open On-line Courses There just has not been enough time in my diary to actively engage with one. Game changer this year has been Stanford’s Artificial Intelligence Course with  more than 100,000 learners  taking part  and some more courses on offer this year this is really something to watch and take part in if you get the chance. Worth too just doing a Google Search for Stanford Mooc you start seeing huge range of learning resources the learners have created 

Aggregation Tools
These just get better and better and are great ways for getting most out of all the sources you follow and for re-broadcasting them selectively. I predict these will be big news next year as folk struggle to stay on top of all the information sources they now have access too.

Pealrtrees  - picked up on this about half way through year – for some topics I think this is better than delicious as a social bookmarking tool . Worth too checking out some of the collections  that are already there.

Simmering in background all this year and I’d expect more growth next year -
Infographics , Digital Storytelling , Growth of on-line schools , more interest in  national one computer per child and digital literacy projects

I have one confession though I’ve used Google Hangouts a couple of times but I still don’t really get Google+  I’ve got an i-pad 2 too and mostly use it as a flat screen TV

Finally a word of praise for Engage for Education.  I ‘ve been more and more impressed this year by the Scottish Government’s ability to use social software effectively .  The only slightly worrying caveat is that many of our stakeholders – teachers - are still looking for that paper copy of any information – I hope we can change this in the coming year.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Reflections on a Busy Year – Part Two

There is never enough time or money to support ground up initiatives. There is a lot of ground level work out there that could and can transform the lot of learners.  I think there are more of these than ever this year – and well done all ...

If you get a moment you should check out some of these links to teachers taking control of their own CPD.  I am always amazed that some more of the teacher training institutions are nor more visible in the CPD space in this way.  useful discussion on purpose of education across UK   nice set of educational podcasts
Pedagoo   teachers for teachers on a host of topics from Scottish Teachers 
Scotedublogs   Still for me best aggregation of Scottish Educational Blogs
Teachmeets  just grows and grows and driven by teachers

Most of the really good Scottish educational bloggers are now on twitter and you probably get richest diet from them here. But a few old timers worth following who will quickly lead you into the community of Scottish Educational Bloggers and Twitterers
Sorry I  can’t list everyone but check out Scottish Education Twits for feeds from main Scottish Educational Twitterers.

Worth following too those who stride around the world stirring things up

But best of all I found some new folks with new ideas emerging

Reflections on a Busy Year - Part One

Tidying out my  inbox and calendar, and while I get the chance, reflecting on a year measured out by appointments almost on each hour.  I think what still frustrates me is that I can’t put down all the things we get up to here, mainly because of the sensitivities around competition which is still an alien concept to many in Scottish education – not in the competition of ideas which should drive learning and is familiar ground, but that in education the profit motive can get in the way of excellence.

The thought that there are global corporates who will read this and frustrate us where they can, horrifies me but it is the reality of education and learning as a global service.  We need to be open to the best ideas and the most cost effective ways of delivering services to learners, competition is a good thing,  but we need to be wary of those whose mission is simply to set toll gates around learning with the aim of “monetising education” while still continuing to build public private partnerships with those who have higher ideals and are willing to work for and with us to support learners in Scotland.

Last year was dominated by the forces of change one way or another in all areas of my work.

Huge changes in institutions in Scotland

  • Education Scotland arriving, on the one hand meant lots of leaving parties, but meant too that change and handovers dominated the agenda of many meetings over the year.
  • Glow metamorphosing into what?.. we’ll find out early in New Year
  • JORUM changing direction and management structures,
  • November and December lots of meetings around future shape of further education in Scotland and Glasgow,  as a Board Member at Anniesland College. The impact of restructuring  on the further education sector will become apparent to many in the coming year.
  • One major scheduled change; Curriculum for Excellence and the roll new national qualifications,  this is doing well against a background of change and sticking to its delivery timeline

Internally I spent almost a year cajoling and encouraging some policy changes to make it an easier option to take vendor SCQF credit and leveled awards into national awards where institutions and qualification development teams need this.  This was behind the scenes work to support the DIVA project where we welcomed Linux at the start of year and VMWare at end of year.  Still patchy communication and information flow between centres and vendors and not enough made of opportunities that come from many of them.   Did my bit too to help SQA finally get a social software policy in place and hope it makes a difference in coming year.

On DIVA we hope to do more around communications early in New Year.  It was great to see a strong Scottish presence over in Washington for Partners in Learning Conference but I still fear many of these opportunities pass too many by in the main as folks are not aware of all the development opportunities available to them.

Finally an active year for Cross Party Skills Committee transitioning with new administration, on-going work getting things in place for Scotland’s Commonwealth Games 2014 through the Legacy Committee and lots of fine tuning of offers through the Partnership Action for Continuing Employment and at end of year lots of work with Scotland’s Colleges, Skills Development Scotland and Education Scotland looking once again at a shared services agenda.

I was fortunate too to get along to ALT-C11  and OER11 this year 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

JORUM Have a Look

I'm delighted still to be involved with JORUM . We need to foster more openness and the sharing of learning resources and we need to promote progression for learners - I can't think of a much better way of promoting learning than making learning materials available for teachers and learners through  an open learning object repository

There are lots of lessons around the journey that JORUM is making which are  relevant to many organisations in the private and public sectors who are interested in opening up and sharing learning content.

Spotted this nice summary of first meeting of new Jorum Steering Group  and you can follow the adventures of the JORUM Team here.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Microsoft Partners in Learning Camp Scotland #pilgf #msftpil

Just did some homework around promoting this useful and free event for teachers .
There are great opportunities for teacher development from a broad range of private sector partners .
Sometimes it seems harder than it should be to get the message out around this and a  host of other related  opportunities.

Some of this is natural public sector suspicion and circumspection but goodness knows we do need innovative thinking from both the public and private sectors to support skills development of learners and teachers across Scotland. 

Thursday, December 01, 2011


Have to say up front I have no involvement in the organisation of these events .

 But just delighted that after a lot of years there are  SQA events taking place using the national platform and supported by Education Scotland . 

  • Important information for Secondary Schools: SQA Curriculum Area Events Live on Glow here. Most events and workshops will be shown live and recorded for watching again later.