Update

 

Gargoyles

I’ve finally made a start on the historical research I mention in the last post – it’s not a huge piece of work, but it’s a start.

http://99euroyears.wordpress.com/about/

I’ve only drafted the ‘About’ page for now as I’m still considering the first post. This will hopefully set out where I hope to begin my research, where I hope to it will take me and why I want to know.


There’s nothing much to report on the work front.

I’m still waiting for something concrete to be arranged on the chance of part-time work at a local college and there is still a chance of working up some online webinar work with a friend, but most of summer has been work-free, apart from some online Functional Skills marking, which has been a godsend (and a delight).

Back to my research.

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New Flickr

screen shot of new flickr pageI really like my new Flickr page.

This just appeared one day last week, with little warning. It’s taken me a short while to find the things I use on Flickr, but overall I’m well pleased.

I’ve thought for a while that it would be nice to see my photo-stream full page, rather than in small windows. Now, I can scroll through the year quite easily.

E.g. The ‘Gavin’ Coke and picture of Sharon remind me of the weekend we had summer earlier this month. The picture of Kings Cross remind me of what will probably be my last work-trip to London and the various jig-saw pictures remind me of a new hobby.

Right back to Christmas and the inevitable Brussels Sprouts.

Sets and Favorites (sic) are now laid out in a more eye-friendly way too – I’d forgotten all about this picture of me and Danny Atwere; I just found it in my Favourites.

So, whilst I can’t always appreciate updates and ‘improvements’ just for the sake of changing something, I can and do appreciate this major change. Well done Yahoo!

So – Facebook; can you make updates and ‘improvements’ that work as well as Flickr’s?  

Arbeitslos

Arbeitslos 2013I have found this post quite difficult to compose. The subject matter is completely alien to me and I had to think long and hard about whether or not I should write it. I am doing so in the hope that it’s personally cathartic, as I don’t really expect any of the circumstances to change any time soon.

For the first time in over thirty years I find myself without work.

The last time this happened was in 1982 when, following several hard years of self employment a previous recession forced me to close the business I was then running. At that time we sold our delightful semi-detached home and moved into a fish and chip shop. This was good accommodation, but living ‘over’ the shop isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. A fish and chip business wasn’t the most lucrative to have at that time either as all of the local businesses and mills were also closing – but we were able to keep a roof over our heads and to feed the kids.

It was following this experience that I moved into Education, starting as a part-time chef-lecturer at Dewsbury College.

I became self-employed once again; seventeen years later in 2005, when my ‘e-Learning Manager’ post at Dewsbury was made redundant. Since then, until the middle of 2011 it was ‘rock and roll’ – I was as busy as anyone else in this business and, I like to think, just as equally respected. Since the summer of 2011, things have slackened off remarkably. Without work given to me by the redoubtable Lilian Soon (at Leeds College of Music) and by LSIS (directly and via various routes), I would have struggled much earlier. I have had other work – not to mention that provided by TechDis (for whom I do still have some residual bits of work) and one of the RSCs, but now that LSIS are no more and the JISC are also tightening their belts, there is nothing on the horizon at all.

I know that I’m not the only one as I’ve seen several status updates on Facebook and on Twitter from respected, often eminent e-Learning gurus – saying the same thing: where is the work?

It would seem to me that at this time; when colleges are being forced to re-think the way they operate due to massively reduced funding streams, that the creative, thoughtful and effective use of e-Learning would be most necessary – but there’s no evidence of that.

I spent a full week in a college last month delivering ‘basic Moodle training’ (17 x 90-minute sessions) to as many of the staff (teaching and non-teaching) as could make those sessions – almost the entire staff body. And, that’s a good thing – but there is no cross-college, management inspired plan to back up the basics with anything more advanced. Yet, with just a little more guidance, some input on ‘other tools’ and a modicum of ‘this-is-how-to-make-online-work’ – next year’s intake mightn’t be faced with meaningless lists of files – or the scroll of video death*.

Cartoon image, courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/bearmancartoons/Yet another college will soon move into a new build. As far as I’m aware, there will be no (or much reduced) physical file storage there and everyone will ‘hot-desk’. But I’m not aware of any training being delivered to help staff to cope with the necessity of storing online or of the benefits and challenges that this will bring.

After talking with other ‘e’ friends, some of whom are in a similar situation to me, I feel that much of the ‘e’ progress we have seen (and been party to) over the last 10-12 years is in danger of being lost – or at the very least stalled. Which is a real shame, because learners still need to be well taught – but nowadays in less time and with less face to face guidance.

So, although I’m fairly sanguine about my personal future – I do feel for those ‘e’ colleagues who have families to support. I just need to sell my house (it’s been for sale on and off for over two years already) and any immediate pressure will be off – but the reason for it not selling is much the same as the reasons for reduced funding across Education – and I don’t want to fall out with anyone by going into THAT!

🙂

*Now that I’ve shown teachers how to ‘embed’ videos in ‘labels’ (also in ‘Book’ – but that’s a step extra) I expect there to be a repeat of the days when teachers first saw PowerPoint and immediately adopted that – for everything, for ever! Leading to the original ‘death by …’.

Credits:

Cartoon image, courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/bearmancartoons/
Main image original courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/evaekeblad/ [links to original]

Plenary

Last week, I was asked to write some script for a learning package; part of one chapter was about ‘plenaries’.

Definition of plenary

adjective

  • The meaning of plenary - Google search return

    1 unqualified; absolute:crusaders were offered a plenary indulgence by the Pope

  • 2 (of a meeting) to be attended by all participants at a conference or assembly, who otherwise meet in smaller groups:a plenary session of the European Parliament

noun

  • a meeting or session attended by all participants at a conference or assembly: working parties would report back to the plenary with recommendations

Origin:

late Middle English: from late Latin plenarius ‘complete’, from plenus ‘full’

From Oxford Dictionaries – link.

I’d never understood the word plenary to mean anything other than that hinted at by adjective 2 and noun above. I suspect that many of my readers have a similar understanding? I certainly had no inkling of the Pope’s indulgences.

It concerned me therefore to think that I could write part of a lesson planning chapter titled ‘episodes’, which included ‘plenaries’ in the outline brief. Sadly, it made little sense to me.

Plenaries were often the least active part of lessons. Teachers tended merely to sum up what happened during the main phase and pupils did not have the opportunity to articulate what they had learned*.

So I had to research the subject and although none of the literature I found suggested that plenaries were anything other than a bringing together (usually at the end), I found that in educational circles they don’t just happen at the end of a given session, especially if you are using ‘episodes’ of learning activity. It would seem that plenaries occur after and throughout each activity – who knew!

We always called this reviewing and it happened at the end of a lesson and at the beginning of the next. Words eh?


References:
http://www.teach-ict.com/teacher/plenary/plenaries.htm

http://francisfarrell.blogspot.co.uk/2006/05/good-lessons-4-plenary.html

*Source:

http://bit.ly/WYuy4X

© Crown copyright 2002
Produced by the Department for Education and Skills
Extracts from this document may be reproduced for noncommercial
or training purposes on the condition that the
source is acknowledged
www.standards.dfes.gov.uk
www.dfes.gov.uk

Hosting

 

Nutella

Where did January go? 

Whoosh – it’s over month now, since I wrote anything on here. I’m sorry if you follow this avidly ;-(

My Moodle installations are hosting by Siteground in America. I’d rather have a friendlier host and a more user-friendly interface, but let’s face it, once you start messing about behind the front pages of web sites and VLEs* they all tend to be unfriendly for a non-technical bod like me.

I have three Moodle installations at present at http://eduvel.org.uk, two are sub-domains of the older Moodle 1.9 (I also have Moodle 2 and Moodle 2.3) and until about ten days ago they worked fabulously. There are drawbacks to using a server in the States, but as far as my requirements go – it’s all worked well.

However, Siteground changed their server address last month and I haven’t been able to get onto my sites since then.

They had said that the transfer from one server to another wouldn’t be a problem:

1) We are happy to inform you that the shared hosting service you are using will be upgraded to a conceptually new hardware configuration. […]

2) All these improvements will result in better loading speed for your website.[…]

3) This will not result in any downtime, but you and some people who have recently visited your website at the old IP location may experience problems accessing it for some time after the change due to IP data cache at their local Internet providers.

4) Once the files are transferred, your account will be assigned its final new IP, but this time the change will not result in any DNS cache problems, as we will set up your domain name and we will redirect any traffic coming to the transitional IP used during the process to your final one.

So I waited until this week and I still couldn’t get on!

So I’ve wasted lots of time today sorting it out.

I suspect that Siteground are on the West Coast, so replies to emails come overnight – delaying the process somewhat. Luckily, my domain name hosts 1and1 are much quicker off the mark.

1and1 host my now defunct Village-eLearning Consultancy web site and over the years I’ve bought several domain names through them. It’s easier then when renewal time comes along to just say yes to the one company, rather than lots. However, this does mean that I have to go through the (to me) nervous process of re-directing the domain via DNS settings. Siteground had told me that despite the notes above, I had to change these manually. Grrr.

Well, I couldn’t see any of my sites on the 1and1 dashboard – they’ve changed the dashboard since I needed to do anything like this – so I had to email their support team. There was a problem with the email address I was using, so I eventually had to ring them.

The lady I spoke to – Indian I suspect – was very competent, very patient and very helpful. It took me very little time to change the DNS settings once I knew where they were. And, despite the promised wait of 24 hours, I’m already back using my Moodle pages. Whoo ooo.

Moral? Don’t be impatient, read all of the little tabs and links on a dashboard and don’t trust ‘trust us’ notices from Siteground. ;-(

*Virtual Learning Environment – VLE. Moodle is an example of such a thing.

2013

 

Orchids

How do you pronounce 2013?

As I was busy preparing our New Year’s Eve dinner in the kitchen yesterday and listening to Classic FM, the announcer kept going on about the maths teacher somewhere who had said that we shouldn’t say ‘twenty-thirteen‘, because the correct pronunciation was ‘two thousand and thirteen‘.  Although I didn’t get my knickers in a twist over it (at the time), I disagreed with him, thinking “no, the correct way IS twenty-thirteen.

Then this morning, I started to think about the year just gone and the year still to come, and found that my preferred way of addressing the year was indeed ‘two thousand and thirteen‘. I asked Sharon what she thought and she agreed that we DID previously say two thousand and twelve; not twenty twelve so why should we change now?

Why indeed!

However, we never said ‘one thousand nine hundred and ninety nine‘ always referring to twentieth century dates as ‘nineteen something or other‘. So why are twenty first century dates so debatable?

Why indeed?

Looking back on 2012

Tray of brussels sproutsOnce again, it’s time to round up the year’s events: to clear away the past to prepare for a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.

It’s been a strange year work-wise with little in the way of continuity. Without work from LSIS, JISC TechDis and the JISC RSC-SE, the year would have been very bleak indeed.

I started the blogging year with a rant about Michael Gove’s well-publicised wish to turn all school children into computer programmers.  However, in the speech he used to announce his programming initiative he also said: “As online materials grow and flourish, we all need to think about how we can guide students through the wealth of information and techniques freely available and accessible online.” … a statement that I heartily agree with and something that is still sadly lacking in everyday teaching and learning environments.

Learners need to check the validity and veracity of the information they find on the Internet and to evaluate its worth for their purpose.

Quite a number of teachers spent their own ‘learning’ years, studying worthy tomes without any thought of the way that contradictory, conflicting and simply inaccurate information might ‘one day’ be easily found ‘online’. They were not brought up to undertake research in the manner that today’s information sources demand; the ways that their charges need to employ.

Moodle training has been a great feature of my work this year and will hopefully continue to be something that draws interest from customers. My first Moodle training event was in January at Pontefract Sixth Form College, arranged by the Yorkshire and Humberside RSC. The most recent was for Berkshire College of Agriculture (BCA) in December. I spent a week at the college, close to Maidenhead, towards the end of November, delivering training to Moodle Champions in VLE use and then again just last week, I delivered a short online course to the same team – about features of Moodle Admin.

Ambassador logo

During the summer months, I was employed by TechDis to be their RSC-Conference Trolly Dolly.  In this role, I promoted the newly launched ‘TechDis Voices’ and ‘TechDis Toolbox’; two of the most significant and exciting initiatives of the year.

I continue to work with TechDis over the winter 2012/13 as part of the Ambassador programme. I’ve already travelled widely in the south east of England as part of this face-to-face TechDis Accredited Trainer role, visiting Lingfield, Weybridge, Margate and Aylesbury.

During December, I decided to deliver a series of #Advent #SugSnips#SugSnips. This revived a very successful delivery of #SugSnips during 2011.

I’m not convinced that this current short series of posts, delivered in a completely different way to before and copied to Facebook, has been quite as successful. Time will tell (I haven’t checked the individual logs yet). However, re-tweets and shares have been non-existent. Maybe it’s time to re-think the #SugSnips idea?

Finally, back in August 2011 I asked why does Flickr not have a belting App? Well, it does now – having released a new (and absolutely ‘belting’ App) during the latter months of 2012.  Well done Flickr. Here it is.

Anyway, if you’re still reading this, may I wish you a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year?

Happy New Year.