Sunday, November 30, 2008

Moon For Christmas

I was wondering what to do for my 100th blog post as a reborn blogger. Out of the blue Noel Chidwick my blogging partner from 00-03 got in touch.

Now the founder of the New Curiosity Shop He was the first guy I knew who worked with Moodle in UK and walked the walk - he left security behind to set up virtual education services.

He is not edupunk but eduprog. Check out and progressive in all he does.

Here's Noel's Christmas message.

'Here’s something to get you into the Christmas spirit - pop along to our band website

And play the video of our new Christmas song ‘We're Going to the Moon For Christmas’. - See if you can work out which one is supposed to be me.

It’s relentlessly chirpy and will have you humming along to the chorus all the way home – Noddy Holder eat your heart out.

We’re giving it away for free, so you can stick it on your iPod, but we are also asking folk to contribute to UNICEF – there’s a link to the UNICEF site alongside the song.

Oh, and it is educational too – you’ll learn all about the Apollo 8 mission, 40 years ago this December.

Turn up the volume as loud as you can!

Best of all, forward this message to anyone you know.'

Even as an old punk I find it hard to beat this worthy and creative message.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Shaping Scotland's Digital Future

I promised I would wait to see what was reported about Shaping Scotland's digital future before I blogged about it. In the event the coverage in Herald and Sunday Herald only scratched surface of the event which covered a lot more than was reported.

Here are bullets from my 15 minute slot on podium at Glasgow Science Centre.

- there is a clear skills and confidence gap among deliverers in schools , colleges and workplace in adopting best practice in integrating digital tools into teachng and learning.
-in some sectors this holds back potential innovation in delivery and assessement
-learners and industry would like assessment on demand but to a national standard intelligent use of ICT could deliver this and does not have to be an objective test ( yuch)
-Provided that evidence is authenticated, valid and reliable we can already and do accept evidence in most mediums. The sector chooses how they want to assess. ( evidence on youtube, flickr, blog. wiki all possible see SQA guide to assessment and SQA Assessment 2.0 papers.) It will be good to see greater innovation coming through Curriculum for Excellence in school sector.
- Our challenge is from OfComm we are a nation of consumers of rather than a nation of creators and this needs to change
- We have one of best qualified workforces but lowest productivity in the world
-We need to move from passive transmission models of learning and more broadly top down ways of working to much more active and contributory states both for those in learning and those in the workplace.
- We need to challenge belief that low tech industries should be low tech workplaces- there is not an industy in Scotland which is making the best use of technology.
- ended by asking audience about what they do as well as belonging to social network ( audience mainly young digital natives)
- How many of them googled the speakers before they came along today.
How many thought about managing a digital identity
Had multiple identities
- use msn , twitter or other for more than personal close friend activity
Used virtual worlds as well as Bebo, Facebook etc
Shared creations more than their identity
Images created through Flickr or other
Music mixes , music that had composed
Publshed video from their telephones
Used delicious or digg and other collaborative tools to help with you learning

Interesting and reflecting the Ofcom study most of audience were happy consumers but not active creators. They need more support to build their personal learning networks.

We have just completed a UK study on Next Generation User Skills which we'll stick into this debate shortly.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dr Mark Milliron

Hands up Clap you hands and clasp your hands - what thumb ends on top.
Either your right or left thumb this is natural . Try and do it the other way around and it feels very odd - Some nice hokey left brain right brain chat as warm up. Read to end for conclusion.
Best books on changes we are facing.

"Hot Flat and Crowded " Thomas Friedman is a depressing read but read last chapters what needs to change gets more optimistic.
"Who's Your City" Richard Florida - place is more important and quality of life you need to be more diverse and specialised.
"Competing on Analytics"- Thomas Davenport
"Social Intelligence" by Daniel Goleman
"Life Entrepreneurs" Christopher Gergen

You can now invest in place - put the right infrastructure - and people will like working there. Big thing in among US States at moment is that they are competing to have best Internet Infrastructure. If you have this and some other things every valley can be silicon valley.

Rise of Medical Industrial Complex
Biotech , Nanotech , Genetic Identification, Significant Viral Threats , Informatics and greater patient power,

People are turning off their landlines and only using mobile phones
Homes are all going wireless
McDonald's have gone wireless
Gaming now bigger than movies average age 33.
Use great Wii advert to demonstrate how people engage
You can play games over the internet - grandparents do this
Serious Games Site gets a plug
There is a virtual school with science labs just come on line.
pinball - atari - now Wii Use social networks "rate my" Holographic classrooms have arrived in US ( $30,000) to install - you can walk through heart or human body. You can import a holographic but real Spanish speaker into a language classroom.

If you had real analytics and predictive modelling on your students - you would be able to give them tailored support event tailored learning - just like Amazon.

We need Critical Learning - to process all the dramatic changes - being active reflectors not passive reflectors - analytics are going to try and keep you in a velvet furrow

Most people get jobs through social connections and most people get fired through interpersonal connections - how do we get social learning more formally into the curriculum. The better you get along with people the more employable you will be - a teacher as a role model who mostly works on their own - needs to be challenged or pupils need to see educators working in teams.

We need project based learning, collaborative learning, service learning and socially networked learning - we need courageous learning - you need to be a rookie every year - to get out of your comfort zone and this will keep your neurons tuned. Good for you and for your employers.

Cave people ( Colleagues Against Virtually Everything) we need to get them gently to stand to one side. We need to change what we do and how we do it.

Right thumb on top and your sexy.
Left thumb on top you are sneaky.
Sneaky Sexy if neither

3D Google Tour of Ancient Rome

Dr Anne Limb and Helena Kennedy Foundation

Ann Limb

Key note one at Scotland's Colleges Conference

Dr Anne Limb on work of Helena Kennedy Foundation . The power of small social actions to create greater social mobility . One of the things they have created is a charity to fund support for learners moving from Further Education into Higher Education . But still big problems in HE system and not just with learners from non traditional backgrounds struggling to get in the more damning statistics are those from non traditional backgrounds who drop out. Most Universities in England have funds to widen participation that remain unused and unclaimed
(I think it is same in Scotland)
Helena Kennedy Foundation gives bursaries to able vulnerable learners as identified by FE practitioners across range of disciplines now 150 bursaries a year.
I wonder what would happen if a social entrepreneur did same for some Scottish schools where participation in further education can be really low. The Foundation give learner money and a mentor for length of programme. We need to break mould and change feeling among many learners .. If at first you don't succeed you don't succeed.. example success strory being used is learner from minority group who is now a Barrister. Foundation has a 90% success rate so far ..

Practice and Innovation Conference Scotland's Colleges

Interesting and innovative start to SFEUs conference a series of mini dramas on the theme "walk a mile in my shoes" just great characters insecure school leaver, adult returner , Polish ESOL student, a new start FE teacher and new start head of department and all the challenges they face . Challenge to audience all around how we offer complete support to our learners and our teaching staff and develop our College leaders .. a full service - and customer service is what it is all about in further education. Forum Interactive organised this superb.

We have been asked to look at how learner induction could be improved and how induction of new staff and new college leaders could be improved.

Great sessions on each with great role plays in between each mini session - beats power point

Coming up next...

Dr Anne Limb on social mobility and social justice

Dr Mark Milliron CEO of Catalyze Learning International College Leader from American Community College System

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Frankie Boyle

I used to catch him live when I could in Glasgow and now watch him on TV now or on YouTube. He makes me really uncomfortable - perhaps a bit misogynistic. He arrived in my kitchen in a Sunday Herald interview this morning and one thing he said chimed strongly with me and my own formal schooling...

"I find education really horrendous ..

"That whole thing of having to move on to the next class when the bell rings , so that obedience is more important than what you're studying"

A Summerhill type thought for the day.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Shape of Things to Come

On occasion a howler appears in the press. I normally put it down to the commercial desperation that drives the struggling press. Journalists don't get a lot of time to check their facts and harassed editors need to the fill the yawning space beside the adverts and the inserts. It can also be cheaper to commission a piece or even to to do a spot of vanity publishing.

There was a teaser in this week's Times Educational Supplement - I am probably boosting circulation already. "The Dark Side of Glow" Headline the Internet is not Glowing. The full piece will appear in the Scottish Education Review.

There are some useful questions that could be directed GLOW'S way - and I am looking forward to reading the full article. In this piece the author appears to take a Swiftian look at change- I suspect fun will be poked at the good old days - the chalkboard shuffle - the scent of banda fluid - and photocopier only for office admin use only. I am guessing but suspect there will be digs at both the electricity companies and the publishing industries for conspiracies to get light and books into schools.

In among these red herrings I would hope to find the informed hard questions that Higher Education always challenges the school system with.

Given the suitably retro tone of the piece in TES I have attached a retro piece from Stephen Heppell .. I guess this is the kind of forward thinking that led to the creation of the world's first Schools Intranet here in little old Scotland.

Derek Robertson offers a much more intelligent critique of the piece here.

Friday, November 14, 2008


I picked this up from Jane Knight's blog similarities between our successful Sports Store game and this financial awareness/ lifestyle were immediately apparent in the game play and scoring system.

Was at launch of primary version this week at Abbeyhill Primary in Edinburgh with Maureen Watt - it is being rolled out by Young Enterprise Scotland.

Fun with Finances: Moneytopia GamePlay the new online finance game, Moneytopia: The Big Dream, just launched by the FINRA Investor Education
Foundation. You and your family can have fun while learning to apply
fundamental principles of money management and investing. Seasoned game
developers and financial experts made Moneytopiapossible to offer you savvy
financial guidance as you and fellow players make a lifetime's worth of
financial choices.

Similarity ends there, language and focus reflects money management game developed for American military personnel - but - an opportunity for some one doing financial awareness in UK to take a serious look at this though. I think money management is going to be at opposite end of scale from wealth management for most of us in coming years.

Question how can we get summative assessment to be as effective and as fun as achieving a high score in a game.

Some will still scoff but its is how we train pilots and surgeons .. and fits into vocational learning just fine.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Partners in learning

I am sure there are lots of programmes that do this kind of thing - but it is great to see this project movingP1000548 on - worth having a look at the partners in learning blog and joining the innovative teachers network .

I am not aware on another project on this scale.

Here is the team in Hong Kong

Busy month

It is approaching the silly season when every chamber of commerce and or industry sector we work with has some kind of annual awards or other bean feast. Will be interested to see if looming recession has any impact on these - diary is filling up fast ..

In meantime I am getting my teeth into government review of qualifciations in hospitality and tourism and I am limbering up for the next instalment of Shaping Scotland's Digital Future next tuesday at Glasgow's Science Centre.

Today looked at Close Protection awards for export to India and afternoon with Partners in Learning will all be in press this or next week.. phew ..

Monday, November 03, 2008

Did Ye Ken

This is great version of Shift Happens polished up by Ian McRobert, Ian Lowson and assorted HMIE with a final polish from Andrew Brown LT Scotland - can we get this on SQA Jiglu Group
Did Ye Ken
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: shifthappens didyouknow)
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Sunday, November 02, 2008

4IP and Ewan McIntosh

4iP Logo Great to see 4IP building momentum we have some good ideas and looking forward to seeing what we can bring to the party.

Can see why Channel 4 is doing this. If you have wireless broadband and apple tv or host of other gizmos you will already be enjoying an advert free TV schedule designed by you.
You Tube , VeohGoogle VideoBlip TV , Blinkx, RevverJoost

Great to see Ewan bringing his social networking skills to the fore - lots can be joined up here - Colleges have been gagging for an initiative like this for last 15 years or more. Well done Channel 4 and keep leading from front Ewan.

Learners are already out there making , producing and distributing their own programming. I hope someone will correct me but unlike lastfm which was out there from the UK in the music space we don't have a UK presence in the video space.

Now if only we could personalise learning to this degree .. blocked in schools literally and metaphorically
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Thursday, October 30, 2008

To Blog or to Twitter

Busy and very productive week - Interesting piece on Radio 4 as I drove in to office on Monday - is blogging dying and/or are users switching to things like twitter.
I now use twitter once a day and blog less often. Piece was on at 8.40 am

I have said before I was an early adapter and blogged 2000 - 2002 and switched it all off in end - I think this time there is a more active community developing and web2 and cloud computing makes the experience more fun and productive.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

HHL08 Hand Held Learning

For first time in last three years there was not an SQA rep at Hand Held Learning Conference. However there was a strong Scottish contingent on the programme pleased to see Derek Roberston of Consolarium getting an award. JISC mobile resources for Hairdressing too.

I am still of opinion that wifi in schools and Colleges is the way to go with it being opened up to allow cheap Ultra Portable Computers or learners own lap-tops on to the school network and if we were being truly enlightened to create wifi hotspots for the community.

Schools should be better than Starbucks at this - but hey ;-)

Of course there is space of any other mobile devices too..

But above all it would makes best use of hard won educational bandwidth and allow reliable access for all. Islay High has got first bit of this right and this model should be rolled out.

Also presentation from Laurie O'Donnell on educational changes - nice presentation that compliments thinking on curriculum for excellence but interesting take on small projects - which seems counter intuitive in a small country with so many local authorities - I am guessing but I don't think he meant to be as firm as this on local enterprise. Assessment 2.0 still don't think there is realisation that door has been open for while on this.

Worth sharing around teams

If you are getting up to speed with Twitter worth doing a Twitter Search for HHL08 and you will pick up lots of nuggets from the conference.

Monday, October 06, 2008

BETT 2008

"by spring 2008 every pupil should have access to a *personalised online learning space *with the potential to support an e-portfolio"

Was the theme of Bett in January 2008

Watched this for a while in England . Interesting debate at

Also some quite interesting communities for those with interest in education technology and school sector and refreshingly open.

We are moving at a range of different speeds towards having ICT Infrastructires across School system in UK none with the ambition and vision of GLOW - but will be interesting to see what emerges in different bits of UK.

Walt Disney - Chicken Little - 1943

A friend sent this on this morning - parallels with panic in the financial sector. You can tell too that cartoons were for grown ups in 1943.

Are we less or more visually literate now than we were in previous centuries when bulk of us could not read ?
and does numeracy help us in current crisis ?
Is there a voice of reason to be found in the media?
Where are the foxes - one thing is certain like any economic crisis some will be reaping a harvest from this crash.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Do you want to see into the future ?

Programme: Innovating e-Learning online conference 2008
and following from last post - here is a shameless plug for an online conference . If you want to hear what is happening in the University system this is best place this year to hear it - best guide too at moment to what will happen on-line in most non workbased learning environments too. A glimpse into the future
JISC leads the way. Most of the work pioneered by JISC underpins educational computing across UK .

BECTA Web 2 Survey

The lastest BECTA study just makes me mad. - Web2 even Web1 is such a fantasic learning resource and yet learners in schools get more access to it at home than in school.

No I don't want learners sitting in front of terminals all day and not interacting and no I don't think technology is answer to all ills .... and I get really fed up with anything that starts .. there is a lack of studies can see why being an academic did not hold my attention.

Worse this reports says teachers can cope with all this stuff too - only just not at school. Do as I say not as I do.. thanks Bob Harrison

When will these reports get better.

Last bit of report sits well with discussion on unblocking more of the web for learners - would be good place to start in opening discussion.

This is a great piece of work by BECTA it is chasm it exposes that is scary. (but we knew it was there)

I probably should leave well alone My territory is Colleges and the workplace and we are not short of challenges in vocational learning landscape. Could start home learning ;-)

Amazingly learners arrive post school and can cope with virtual learning environments and eportfolios - amazing as they adapt their knowledge of platforms that they use socially not because they have depth of experience of these in the main in the school system. ( it may be that VLEs are so well designed and amazingly easy to use - only kidding )

But there is a lack of studies ... perhaps an argument for keeping web2 out of secondary ;-) I am sure I hear a researcher sharpening their pencil.

Can you tell I've been on a train for six hours today.

Monday, September 29, 2008

$98 Linux Laptop from China - The HiVision MiniNote

When you see this I think it confirms where learning is going and where schools in the UK need to go.

Those who run IT in schools need to concentrate on running robust wireless and hardwired networks with a focus on use-ability rather than blocking things. I liked what I have heard about Westlothian allowing learners to hook up their own devices to schools wireless networks.

We also need to look at different approaches to assessment for schools. It really is happening already in College and in the workplace. This before any of this technology arrived so sensible changes in assessment methodology don't have to be assessment driven. But think what a leap forward we could make if we did make best use of this.

It is all in the pipeline. It will take some courage all round for us to get here. The biggest threat to these changes at moment is not I believe from the educational establishment , nor from learners or politicians but weirdly from the media -why are they so conservative. ( with wee c)

Here is a report from Australia on an experiment. Thanks Andy Black at Becta for spotting this. Your Black Hole is still blocked at SQA ;-) Though I have to say it is now about only thing that ever gets blocked.