Coffee

I like coffee. The fact that national chains can’t provide me with the ‘taste’ I like really infuriates me.

I learned a long time ago that I was not a coffee drinker. Coffee is not the beverage I think of when I hear ‘hot drink’. I realised many years ago that I am a tea drinker. I also realised a long time ago that this is because I just don’t like instant coffee (‘instant coffee’ is an oxymoron). I do however enjoy drinking coffee – proper coffee made with fresh ground beans and very hot, not boiling, water. I love the taste of coffee, I adore the smell of coffee. I am (despite being a tea drinker) a coffee addict.

Why then, can I not get a nice cup of coffee in this country? I am regularly tempted by the smells emanating from Starbucks, Ratazza, Nero and Costa but just as regularly disappointed by the purchase. What is it about “a small Americano please, but with only half the water” they don’t understand? When asked if I want milk (actually Starbucks is better for this because they allow me to choose the amount), they invariably fill the cup – which defeats the object. I want flavour not watery milk. I often don’t complain because doing so would slow down the queue (the ‘baristas’ are robots really and have few if any crowd pleasing skills) and they would soon pick me out as ‘the arsehole’.

All I want is a hot strong coffee. I want flavour not volume. I have found one garden centre just outside Huddersfield that serves a wonderful coffee but it’s my secret. If you want to know where it is drop me a line. Until then I’m keeping this gem to myself. Now I’m going out into the snow and may well take my walking partner to this very garden centre instead of walking. MMmmm Coffee!

Action Plans

There’s nothing much to report or rant about this last week or so: work seems to have fallen into a humdrum never-ending pattern. The last two weeks have pretty much involved reading, passing back and eventually accepting action plans for one of the programmes [see rant-note below re: spelling] I’m working on.

What is it that’s so hard about Action Plans? I remember Janet Pittaway, my boss at the time, making me realise that for every action there needed to be a desired outcome and the bits in between were how you make sure it gets done. The ones we’re looking at for this programme also have impact measures and that really seems to be a difficult title for many. I’ve tried to say (did say to one guy) that an action might be along the following lines:

Aim: (to play football and) to win the game
Action 1: To score a goal – Outcome 1: goal is scored.
Action 2: To prevent other team scoring goal – Outcome 2: opposing team are prevented from scoring goal. Impact: Game is won. Measure = 3 league point awarded.

I know it’s corny but it seemed to work – I got better actions and impact measures!

Anyway, I’ve also been to Liverpool and Birmingham over the last two weeks, researching European Project work and representing a colleague at a seminar requiring ICT input. Sharon came to Liverpool with me and we ended the day with a nice meal at el Rincon in Manchester – nice Tapas.Programme

Programme – that’s our word for, well … programme isn’t it? Well, because I got a red line i double checked and it seems that Americans think it’s a variant of program. Surely it’s the other way around?  Grrr. See https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2009/11/16/americanization/

 

 

Travel chaos

What can I say? Today has (so far) been a complete waste of time. A combination of weather and a comedy of travel errors has diverted my day. Big time.

I set off at 7.20am to catch the 7.57am train to Leeds. It was raining hard and had rained hard all night – but we live in the Pennines, so what? My train was delayed by nine minutes – I had a twelve minutes change over in Leeds: so that’s when my worries started. Thanks to Ron Mitchel and Sharon I was kept fully informed of developments and of alternative routes. My destination had been Nottingham, to attend the CAPITAL (Curriculum and Pedagogy in Technology Assisted Learning) meeting set up by Nick Jeans of SERO.

As it happened, my twelve minute change over didn’t become a problem because a) we arrived in Leeds less than nine minutes late and b) the 8.40am to London (via Newark, where I would meet Ron) never moved in the entire time I was in Leeds. I’d found my seat when an announcement came on to say that because the electrical power system at Leeds was having “some difficulties” and that “this train” was electric – we may be a little delayed. Furthermore, it appeared that overnight, someone had stolen signal cables outside Wakefield, so even when we got started, going would be very slow until after Wakefield. The 09.05am train to London had already been canceled, but this (the 08.40am) was still unsure of its morning’s duties.

So was I!

Because of a derailment near York yesterday [BBC News], the Trans-Pennine routes were in some disarray too. All trains north were disrupted and as a result, many of those to the west were also delayed or canceled. The notice boards were in complete chaos. The guards and assistants were being as helpful as they could be, but things were changing so fast that even they were relying on the boards – which were not helpful. I eventually got back to Huddersfield on a train that (it would appear) had been kidnapped and turned around. I think it had been heading north and I think that the driver was still determined to take it north, but the announcement and the dodgy boards now said it would go back west to Liverpool. Who convinced the driver of this I’m not sure, but it did go back west. As I got off in Huddersfield, there was still some uncertainty about its destination – Manchester Piccadilly or Liverpool Lime Street. I suspect that the problem here was driver-knowledge. If he wasn’t conversant with the ‘road’ he wouldn’t be able to take the train beyond Manchester (more Trans-Pennine trains go to Manchester than to Liverpool, so this is likely).

Anyway, having got to Huddersfield, my problems were not over. I’d missed the local bus (twice a day – once on Wednesdays 🙂 and knew I had a short walk ahead of me – but hadn’t anticipated the swim. The bottom of my hill was flooded. Whilst it doesn’t look much, it did fill my shoes and I had to walk home with shoes full of shitty water. Then a shower, then blog, then work!

Why can we not prepare for weather?

AmericaniZation

OK – I'm finally irritated enough to comment on this.

I love my MacBook Pro. Everything about it is 'fab' – except its simple refusal to recogniZe English spelling of words. I know that i can add the word in question to my dictionary BUT WHY SHOULD I? Microsoft allow me the luxury of choosing my native language – why can't the (super talented) hippies in San Francisco do the same?

The letter zed (zee????) has no place in realise; itemise; criticise (they even have to change the 'z' to an 's' in criticism!!) and so on.

Get a life chaps and chapettes at Apple – give us our language back!

David

Drafts

This is the first Saturday for many weeks where I’ve had no work to do. At all. But it all starts again tomorrow.

The Advanced e-Guide/PDA programme kicked off last month with the first face to face meetings last week (in the middle of my Leeds-European week). The participants were reminded that (to get the two pronged funding) they should have submitted ‘action plans’ by 20th November. Which sort of gave us two weeks to get draft action plans read and returned before the finals had to be in. The 20th is an important date because if we (Sally, Nigel and me) don’t get them by then the Advanced e-Guide/PDA won’t get their £1,200 bursary or £1,500 capital funding. So – next weekend and Monday, we (I) will be reading action plans and (hopefully) signing them off in time for the money to be released. But this week it’s been one for chasing up drafts, reading drafts and commenting on drafts. This has been appreciated by those that submitted them but that is less than half the group I have to support. So tomorrow and Monday I will have to be chasing up those that haven’t sent in drafts.

There’s still no news of my ‘lost’ camera from the Thistle Hotel in Birmingham. I wonder what I have to do to get a manger to talk to me?

On Thursday all the MoLeNET Mentors met in London as part of this years (round 3) programme. Once again it was great to be there with everyone – all gurus to me and all considered good friends. But I do wonder why we were there in the afternoon. Some of us I understand – because the LSN sales team had to be informed about MoLeNET life and mobile learning generally, but Elaine, James, Mick and I were not involved and were only listening to what we already (mainly) knew. I suspect that if the four of us had been asked to leave and work in a different room for 2 hours, the product of that meeting would have been far more useful that the 2 hours we did spend.

Then Lilian, Ron and I went to Nottingham to join the Becta-supported (delivered by ALT) Sucessful Deployment of networked hand-held devices workshop at the National College for School Leadership. This was a vibrant meeting with lots of different input and cross-sector talk about the pedagogies of mobile learning. We three had been asked to come along and foster discussion by delivering our cool wall idea. I think it took a while for delegates to ‘get it’ but eventually they did (I think). Out point had been to begin the thinking around the use uses (video, photography, text, search, memo, reflection etc) rather than the kit itself – also, what tool might the learner own that could enable these uses?  A great day (Friday) – really enjoyed it.

Got home as quick as I could because Karen and David were coming up for the weekend. Karen is at TechDis today (Saturday) but Dave and I are shortly going to the pub!

Leeds 2

Cold Turkey.

I’m now at the end of a rock and roll week with only one more day to go before I can put my feet up for a short while [I wrote this on Saturday – I’m now on my ‘feet-up’ day]. I’ve booked myself a day off on Monday [today – yippee] but have already committed to make many phone calls and ‘quick’ replies before it starts again in earnest on Tuesday.

Since Saturday last, Sharon and I have been in Leeds working with a large group of adult learners, here to improve their language, understanding of British culture and ICT. Also see https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2009/11/02/leeds-1/ Through Monday to Wednesday, we were joined by Lilian (@xlearn : www.xlearn.co.uk).

Advanced e-Guides and PDAs
Late on Monday afternoon, I had to leave the group and go to London where I worked with other colleagues to deliver the Advanced PDA/e-Guides course. Sally Betts, Nigel Davies and I worked through the day to deliver this course for the first time. We’d spent Monday night having dinner at a place on Tabernacle Street, just behind the hotel on City Road. Apparently, the restaurant was a member’s club but really – you had to be a member to find it. The only recognition that it existed at all was a small plaque above a buzzer, by the side of an innocuous door. Inside it looked great and the food was good – what we could see of it. The light was so dim, we each had to use our mobile phones (or iTouch in my case) to read the menu. We shared the most wonderful and most green bowl of olives I’ve ever seen.  On Tuesday, we repeated the course again in Birmingham but without the excellent food.

And then it was back to the Europeans.

Back again
It sounded like they had had a great time in Bradford on Tuesday, where they had gone to explore the Pakistani culture living within the British culture. For many, this was the first time they had witnessed women wearing the burkha outside of television news and made them stop and think. They also visited a Mosque and were given a talk about Islamic tradition and culture. The National Media Museum also provided them with a two-hour workshop, where they learned the tips and techniques of television. http://www.nationalmediamuseum.org.uk/ Their enjoyment of this day was reflected in their blogs (read on)…

Lilian had introduced blogs on Wednesday, so my plan on Thursday was for them to continue with blogs for a while and to move back onto their Bonfire Night web quest before lunch.  Which is what we did, but there was such a lot of questions about blogging that many neglected the web quest. Although Blogger is remarkably simple to set up and use (and links directly to all the other iGoogle tools) it was not the best choice within the University.

Techie Stuff
Each room we used represented the interface differently. The Thursday room even had different versions of IE – which the techies told me was impossible. But IE 7 has tabs and prior to that there were no tabs: Our room had a mixture of tabbed IE browsers and non-tabbed! Then some machines needed Flash updating, or Java updating or simply updating. WHY oh why can’t this be done automatically? Why do learners have to suffer because the technology is bollocks? On Friday, Internet Explorer simply would not show the normal Blogger interface. Learners could not ‘add’ pictures or videos because the buttons were simply missing. I eventually got most of them onto Firefox – but then Blogger had updated itself since Thursday (it probably hadn’t, and probably has a slightly different interface for Firefox) and the video button was missing until you went to settings and asked it to revert to the ‘older version’ – which caused huge amusement amongst the older participants (all except two were over forty and many fifty plus – one was 21 on Thursday).

Reflection
It has been the most wonderful, entertaining, wet, though-provoking, funny, rewarding and exhausting experience. The group; from Germany, Turkey, Bulgaria, Latvia, Italy and England have worked together well this week and to say that they had not met each other before last Sunday, they have made remarkable progress.

Outcomes include the sharing of experiences and of each other’s cultures. Both of these were addressed in abundance. It became very clear to everyone that when national boundaries and prejudices are set apart – we are all the same. We share the same concerns and the same pleasures. This has been a wonderful week.

The group had said during their first day (last week) that they wanted to be bloggers – let them tell the story:

(Please note the use of videos, pictures they have edited and pictures made into movies too)

Our blog addresses:

http://leedsexp.blogspot.com Roberto

http://unver64.blogspot.com Fahrettin

http://vonweitzel.blogspot.com/ Christoph

http://eduwholearning.blogspot.com Eduardo

http://jnmarin.blogspot.com Javier

http://guntistravel.blogspot.com/ Guntis

http://secretary-fall-secretary.blogspot.com/ Mairita

http://learningwithpeople.blogspot.com Angus

http://mpwbauhuette.blogspot.com/ Edith

http://annavuerich.blogspot.com Anna

http://leedsandbradfordexperience.blogspot.com/ Gabrielle

http://siegfrieddierl.blogspot.com/ Siegfreied

http://vivianapurina.blogspot.com Viviana

http://cristinadelfabbro.blogspot.com/ Cristina

http://atanurcaglayan.blogspot.com/ Atanur

_________________________________________________________________________________

http://xlearn.co.uk/blogger.html Lilian’s blog

http://sharonsugden.blogspot.com Sharon’s blog

Leeds 1

We’re at the end of what really is day two, but is officially day one now. The Improving Language and Culture with ICT course has started well.

On Thursday, we’d heard that there was to be a right-wing English Defence League rally in Leeds on Saturday with the inevitable opposition rally occurring at the same time. Because our visitors were coming to Leeds to witness and learn more about British culture (and given that the postmen and local refuse collectors were striking anyway) we decided that as the Latvians had arrived a day early, we
would ask them to visit York on Saturday instead of Leeds! This turned out to have been a good plan because the two that did go to York had a brilliant time. The third Latvian went to Bradford and enjoyed herself too – the only problem being that we’re spending a day in Bradford this Tuesday. Never mind.

So that was three participants sorted – but the rest were arriving at various times in the day. Only one, from Germany, was affected and then, only because the police had put a ring around the railway station, that prevented taxis from operating out of there. The poor man had to walk all the way to our hotel, with his luggage, not understanding why there were no taxis!

Sharon and I arrived mid-afternoon.

We first went to Leeds Metropolitan University to drop off all the tools and equipment we will need on Monday through until Friday and then to the Novotel in Leeds, where we had our first meeting today. They knew we were coming today, when we called in last week to check and they knew who we were on yesterday when we came along with all our ‘stuff’ for Sunday (today) – but today (Sunday), they had no idea who we were (but that’s another story and one that a stern voice and no nonsense but polite attitude took five minutes to sort out). Then we arrived at the Ibis, where we are to stay for eight (8!!) days.We’d arranged to meet everyone at 7.00pm for dinner at 7.30pm – at the
Ibis. Which was ok, but fairly confusing because no one had met anyone else. Luckily I have a distinctive visage and was able to attract people from all over Europe to our table. There were fourteen of us for dinner and as it was Halloween (another story), a special menu too. So the meal went ok and the group got on well. Four people were still traveling as we went to bed.

Breakfast was nice and relaxed but the weather had changed. Outside it was pouring down. Torrential rain followed by strong winds was the story of the day. Everyone was drenched by the time we got to the Novotel. We’d planned that everyone would introduce themselves first and then tell us a little more about their countries by means of a newspaper collage. But most of them didn’t bring their newspapers to the Novotel. So we moved on to the ‘what do you think England is, what
do you think the English are, what do you think about English culture’ activity. We were investigating preconceptions and asked the group to mix themselves up to reach a common understanding of ‘England’. This turned out to be a brilliant get-to-know-each-other activity that
highlighted some real stereotyping. The idea is that we re-visit the activity again next Saturday and see how things have (or have not – gulp) changed.

We spent the afternoon at The Armouries (after another stern voice and no nonsense but polite attitude with the taxi company). Now we’re preparing to go out into Leeds for a communal dinner – at La Tasca!