An Apple a day

I’ve just spent the day at the Apple H.Q. in London. Yet, despite all their eminence in the field of technology many of us couldn’t gain access to the WiFi. Many more had no phone or 3G connectivity either. So only later, on board the train, could I contemplate connecting to the internet (via my mobile phone) – and even then it was hit and miss.

It’s been a good day and I’ve come away with a much better understanding of how Apple ‘systems’ can work for the benefit of learners. I suspect that most of those attending the event (arranged for the benefit of MoLeNET projects) enjoyed the day and left much more well informed.

I was just a little worried however, throughout the day, about the principles of the day, which seemed to revolve around content (mainly), institutional teaching and backside covering (this is a flippant reference to the fact that four different levels of institutional agreement have to be signed off before a resource is loaded to iTunes U to make sure that copyright belongs to the institution). iTunes U interested me, as I haven’t yet played with iTunes – although I understand its concept and its use. I think the fact that institutions (still mainly U.S but increasingly worldwide) make many of their resources available online via iTunes U is commendable and that the sharing aspect of this is to be applauded but I feel that it is all quite organisation-centric and that the learner is regarded only as a consumer of product rather than a creator or co-creator. This is born out (for me) by the number of signatories mentioned above (I may be wrong about the four levels signing for each resource – but to set up iTunes U it’s a certainty: so all of the content will need to be heavily vetted).

Provided that we can all access the materials; and I’ve yet to check that because iTunes U doesn’t come up on my iTunes installation (yet?), it will be (is?) a brilliant resource.

But then we come back to content = resource. I had to ask later in the afternoon whether the learners themselves had been considered as a resource. With the kit being employed to deliver todays session (Mick Mullane did a great session on capturing and distributing content – see video http://www.flickr.com/photos/dsugden/3673874573/) I wondered why we were not taking due regard of the opportunities this brilliant kit was making for learners to learn and be assessed. The point was raised that not many learners can afford iPhones or iTouch’s (although this is becoming a more popular possession) and cannot therefore be ‘always on’. But many of the other brands of Smartphone to be found in their pockets are perfectly capable of taking photographs and videos (many of them of better quality too) and transmitting these to the web. Even if there is no data contract in force, many of the phones have WiFi access which can be utilised at home and – in the more enlightened places – at college.

We were shown an interesting graph at the outset, which confirmed my own belief that (MMMmmm – how should I state what ‘that’ is….., let’s say PCs) PC usage will decrease in favour of an ever increasing use of portable/mobile devices. I agree. I suspect therefore that Apple will continue to develop services to support this usage alongside and devoted to its development of world shatteringly good mobile devices.

But please – don’t forget the learner.

Advertisements

RSC Northwest Conference

Another week, another conference. This week it’s been that of the RSC Northwest and this was held at the Southport Theatre and Convention Centre in (guess … ) Southport.

I particularly enjoy this region’s conference because, over the years, I’ve made so many friends and acquaintances there. I was first asked to work in the region as an NLN Mentor back in 2002. Chrissie and Benita were developing an ILT (information learning technology) event for Caterers (with Kevin Brennan) and I’d been asked to join them. This was a great and I’m still in contact with them – and with the RSC NW team which grew remarkably over time.

I’d originally asked for a Village e-Learning Consultancy table but this was not allowed because at the time, they had decided not to have any commercial interest involved. This upset me because I am only ‘commercial’ by default. My ‘profit’ is my salary! Anyway, two of us agreed to share a table: I would be representing MoLeNET and Steve Smith (self employed like me) would represent the LSIS eCPD programme. This was a great success and we were both able to meet and talk to a whole load of people interested in both programmes.

I’d also opted to deliver a Petcha Kutcha – something I’d never done before. See picture

View more documents from David Sugden.

Direct: http://www.slideshare.net/dsugden/pecha-kucha-mole

Delivering 20 slides at 20 seconds each was quite nerve racking but the audience were brilliant. It was an interesting experience. I tried recording my voice too – but this can’t be read on the MacBook Pro I’m using now – so I’m not sure how it will sound. I’ll update the Slideshare if it looks like working.

There was much talk today (which I fomented) of new MoLeNET projects and formative consortia. This made me feel like my visit had been worthwhile. Another great event.

Just a quickie

Simbas_Magnolia-2It’s that time of year again and pressures are mounting on all sides. Things that seemed so far away when they went into my diary are now upon me.

Luckily, early draft planning keeps my head above water – so only a review of work required and a period of last minute preparation is required. Like today’s visit to a Hospitality Diploma consortium, to carry out a health check. Much of the preparation was done six weeks ago and all I had to do was email last week to confirm (they had cancelled on the day once before!) the visit and ask them to print out some documents. The problem is that I forget the exact details! I knew I’d emailed, I know why I am going but had forgotten that I’d asked them to print the documents and consequently got up early today to do just that. Hey ho.

Tomorrow evening I travel to Southport, where the RSC Northwest Conference is being held on Thursday. I’m sharing a stand with Steve Smith and I will be Mr MoLeNET while he is Mr LSIS BDP PDA eCPD man. I’m going to deliver (I think) a Pecha Kucha on MoLeNET – so that will be a new experience for me. It’s taken me longer than I thought to prepare it – in fact it’s not quite ready yet, but will need to be by the time I leave tomorrow. The time is being taken by me wanting to leave a fully detailed notes page on each slide. When it’s done, I’ll try to share it.

The rest of this week I’m working on an e-Guides project that has to be completed by weekend. Phew.

Time

Yellow pipe

Yellow pipe

The question of time (where it comes from, how we manage it, what it is) arose this week when my friend and co-presenter at the RSC SouthWest Conference in Weston Super Mare, James Clay, answered a question about ‘time’ from the audience. He asked, rhetorically, what we do with our time now: do we sleep? do we eat? why is there never enough time? would we like more hours in the day? another day in the week? etc.

One of my employers this year asked those of us working as facilitators to kill such questions if they arose and close them down immediately, because there is no answer. But is that true – is there really no answer to the question of time?

I remember once, walking down the road from Richmond Station towards the Twickenham Rugby ground and considering the concept of time

We, four of us, were on our way to the Rugby League Challenge Cup final, being held at the England Rugby Union H.Q. for the first time. This was the third home international R.U. venue to host the northern hoards who would travel to see the ‘the other code’s’ major trophy final. We’d previously been to Murrayfield in Edinburgh and the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. 80,000 people were beginning to fill the streets around Richmond now en route to Twickenham and the going was slow.

As I walked along, I watched the steady stream of airplanes lining up to land at Heathrow, some miles away towards the east. One by one they lazily dropped towards the runway and it set me off thinking about how the passengers were experiencing their time on board and comparing it to the way my own time was passing. For me, in 30 minutes or so, I would be at the turnstiles; yet they would be at baggage collection or beyond, possibly even in taxis on their way to the same match as me? Yet the same 30 minutes of time would have passed: theirs quickly, mine slowly. Or so it would seem.

But how could time be experienced so differently?

cross country train

cross country train

For me, daydreaming as we walked down that road, the time seemed interminable; but experience has taught me that for those on the plane, the time will have passed very quickly. Is it the things we are doing (or do) that determine the way we experience the passage of time? Is time really that flexible?

During our regular Saturday morning walk today (our weekly session in the metaphorical psychiatrists chair: See Crocodile Dundee for context and Mick’s reply to Sue’s comment that she was ‘going to the psychiatrists’: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0090555/usercomments) my friend quoted a colleague of his who suggested that the problem with time these days (when addressing an audience of teachers) was that we all have part time jobs. Because we have these part time jobs, it makes it very difficult to make the time to develop our skills and to undertake personally directed professional development.

When pressed, John’s colleague told the audience that we all [sic] have a part time job watching 20 hours T.V. per week! So how on earth can we find time to develop ourselves.

But whoa!! How contentious is that? Surely we should be allowed time to relax after our days work? Surely we should be allowed to choose how we spend our ‘spare’ time? If we choose to watch T.V. instead of updating our skills – then we should be allowed to do so.

Shouldn’t we?

To carry out my work professionally I personally feel the need to constantly update my knowledge and understanding of technology and the application of learning and this involves time I might otherwise spend watching T.V. I do my updating as and when I can, in-between meals, in-between jobs, during jobs and occasionally while watching T.V. – I don’t have to; I just feel that I should. I feel that if someone pays me to do a job, I should do my best to perform that job as well as I can. Furthermore, instead of driving to long distance jobs, I now take the train and depending on need can use the time gained by not having to drive, to read and relax or to work. The choice is mine, but often, someone is paying me, so I work, or update myself. I couldn’t do this if I drove (well I could, if I had enough audio recordings and podcasts but …)

In this time of constantly changing technologies, tools and techniques, it is imperative that a professional teaching workforce is versed in those very technologies, tools and techniques that can support learners and provide learning opportunities. To do this, the workforce should undergo/undertake ‘e’CPD alongside more traditional CPD activities. I mean this in the overarching general sense, rather than the narrower government funded view of eCPD. The undertaking and understanding of ‘e’ is personal to the circumstances of each individual teacher – so they should be the ones to choose it’s path (with guidance).

There is an argument which suggests that employers should recognise this need and allow teachers the chance to undertake such professional development, and I would be the strongest advocate of such a move – as I have been for many years now. But cynicism and experience tell me that it will never happen until todays innovators reach those management positions.

So what do we do in the meantime?

Perhaps we should take more airplane journeys and use the extended (speeded up?) time provided to learn new skills or to do our T.V. watching.

RSC South West Conference

The cascade at Rookery Manor - a waterfallAt last – WordPress seems to be behaving itself again.

I’ve just finished day one of the two day RSC South West conference, which is being held this year at Rookery Manor near Weston Super Mare (and almost on the M5!)

I travelled yesterday and stayed in front of what seemed to be torrential rain up and down the country. My train was on time but the @Examiner Twitter feed implied that there were problems on the rail line between Leeds and Huddersfield, due to storm damage.

My gig(s) with @jamesclay are tomorrow, so today has been fairly relaxed and we took time out to plan the keynote we’re delivering together and the workshop we’re sharing with @broadcastmedia. Other than that, it’s been time for reflection and for walking in the wonderful gardens here. The sunshine helped – but the grounds are tremendous. I can certainly see why brides want to get married here. The photographs at this time of year must be brilliant. The conference (and breakfast) coffee however – leaves much to be desired.

Tonight, we had a barbecue. A good selection of meats, spoiled by cheap sausages! Lovely sunshine right into the evening and then heated lights in the marquee. Fair enough.

See http://www.flickr.com/photos/dsugden/ for Rookery Manor pictures.

WordPress still refusing to let me edit

Day 3 and 4 (Malt)