The Shroppie Fly

It has not been easy getting back into the swing of work related things this year. There is not much new work around but I still have some residual work with the RSC-YH and RSC-SE. I did have some dates in my diary, but catching people during the first two weeks of September to arrange other meeting dates has been (is) difficult. So my diary now is made up of preparation for gig dates, meeting people to try and generate work dates and phoning-up to organise meetings and gigs dates.

The preparation dates are OK, because I give myself time to ‘prepare’ and find it hugely enjoyable because as I consider new ways to deliver something (or just to update) I’m also learning. The meeting people dates are frustrating because nothing comes from them immediately, or they get cancelled. Phoning-up days are similarly frustrating (as I say, early September is not the best time for doing this) and tend to end up with a batch of emails having to be sent.

Still, since we got back from the USA http://dsugdenholidays.wordpress.com (July 31st – August 26th) we’ve managed to resist slipping into a boring routine. Last weekend we went looking for another car to replace Sharon’s clapped out Subaru. For me, this is a tedious trail of agencies that never seem to have the model you’ve researched and wanted. Auto Trader is especially frustrating because by the time you ring them to see if the car is still there – it’s gone. We eventually found a Renault Megane Saloon, which seemed to fit the bill (3 years old and only 12,500 miles). So, we came away to do the research – which proved to be positive. However, our plan to swap Sharon’s car may have to be changed to replacing my car or not buying it at all – for reasons I can’t go into now but will explain in good time.

The previous weekend we spent in Chirk with Karen and Dave. That was a pleasant change. I love Wales and the border country around Karen is particularly nice. Having said that, we spend most of our time in Shropshire checking out the canal system around Audlem. This is an especially nice part of Shropshire, where history becomes a relaxing walk along the towpath. Karen’s son Andrew, his wife Ange and baby daughter accompanied us on our walk and during our meal at The Shroppie Fly alongside the towpath in Audlem.

I’ve also made two visits to Wetherby recently, for discussions about my trip to Prague next week. This visit follows the workshop we delivered in Wetherby during the week that the volcanic ash cloud erupted. Many of the delegates (project partners) were greatly delayed by their cloud and had to lay out extra expenses just to get home. We also met this team in Vienna in May. https://eduvel.wordpress.com/?s=Vienna In Prague Sharon and I will represent Khawar and TLC at the climax of this project.

April slides in

I think that my last post was about ‘tea’. Why tea?

I suspect that this harks back to the way I used to blog. My blog from 2005 to the middle of last year (2009) was at http://www.village-e-learning.co.uk/blog.htm and the only reason I gave it up was the convenience afforded by WordPress, which allows me to edit whenever I have an internet connections, rather than only when I have access to the correct software. I began my Eduvel blog in May 2009, https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2009/05/31/where-will-june-go/ and my ‘style’ of blogging seems to have changed.

Whereas before my blog seemed to be a ramble about my daily/weekly life and work, it seems to have become an occasional ramble about a single subject. The subjects themselves are diverse, so that’s not a problem as I’d hate to be seen as one-subject blogger, but there seems to be less recording of activity (which I use to look back upon my activities and thoughts) and more of individual rants or discussions.

Contrast the older style August ’09 post Wembley with kath-e-gay-oh-my from February 2010.

I don’t mind doing the odd one-subject blog posts, I used to do it anyway, but I seem to have lost the will (ability?) to pen the more diary based ones. The difference showed when I finally tracked down a copy of Front Page 2003 and installed it onto my Parallels based version of XP. It worked a treat and I’d forgotten just how much I enjoyed working with Front Page before my old Toshiba laptop died and had to be re-built. So – now it’s back, I’ve been able to begin the updating of my Village e-Learning site and have taken the time to take a look at my old blog. It reminded me how important it is to put things down on paper (on the web!) if you want to remember it.

So – Easter came and went. We saw Emma’s new, but not yet complete, house and Khawar popped around today. We had mum and dad for tea (not literally) on Monday and that’s that.Word Cloud for this page

Next week I’m working on a European project for a couple of days in Wetherby. Again, Khawar and I will deliver a pedagogical technology workshop to approximately sixteen people from (I think) six countries. I’m really looking forward to that. Then, on Wednesday evening, Sharon and I will retire to Reeth in North Yorkshire for a few days R & R. No phone, no internet; just books, booze, food and walking. Loverly!

Here’s a Word Cloud of this post from http://www.tagxedo.com/

Apple pros and cons

Continuing the diary theme: last week continued in the way it started: busy busy busy. I spent my actual birthday at the Apple offices in Regent Street and although much of the day was a repeat for me, I remain impressed by what can be achieved with Apple kit.

I was even more impressed by the iPhone’s accessibility functions. For me, an iPhone skeptic – the accessibility functions appear to be brilliant and I’m on a quest right now to check them out further. I also want to compare them to other phones’ accessible features.

I’m still reserved about the iPhone because although I understand, know and agree that it is a wonderful device – it is not a good phone. No matter what excuses people roll out in its defence the iPhone does not receive calls in places other phones on the same (previously only O2) network can. So come on Apple: up your game a bit here.

Just launched: iPhone via Tesco? Well I never. Sadly, I’m told that they use the same network as O2 so no change there then – just cheaper.

With Sally and Nigel, Sue and Barbara, I then helped to deliver Advanced e-Guides and PDAs in London (Tuesday) and Birmingham (Thursday). I had returned to the Thistle Hotel in Birmingham on Wednesday evening hoping to finally speak with someone in authority about my ‘missing’ camera. Despite phoning and writing to the company, I had had no reply whatsoever to my enquiries. If nothing else, this was very poor customer service by Thistle Hotel Birmingham. I did meet someone and he promised to get back to me within seven days. We’ll see. Full details published here if he doesn’t.

On Friday I visited The Manchester College to meet their MoLeNET team. They are partnering with Burnley College and it was therefore a great pleasure to see them represented by Jo Crumblehome. Jo and I had met several years ago and she gained my tremendous respect for the work she was doing with and for blind learners at the Burnley Football Club (a college outreach centre). We’d met up again last week at Apple but it was still great to realise that Burnley’s project is in safe hands. The Manchester team are another great bunch, firmly focused on learner outcome and effective, pedagogical use of devices.

So – just a week to go before things slacken off for Christmas!

MoLeNET Weekend

 I’ve just returned from two days in Stoke on Trent, where I was in the company of some of my favourite people.

Yesterday was a day for MoLeNET project managers to discuss their projects and to network. Lilian and I spent most of the day compiling a bid for the ‘team award’ at ALT-C 2009. We felt that the MoLeNET Mentors had done enough over the last two years to be recognised for the way that they have been instrumental in helping to bring about a systemic change of attitude towards mobile learning across the F.E. sector. We’d set up an Etherpad the previous day and asked other mentors to add their thoughts to the award bid and we therefore spent the entire day fine tuning our bid. Sadly, we missed recording some of the best evidence we could have had when Steve Nichols of the LSC stood up (impromptu) and told the audience that the “LSC like MoLeNET” and that “it was the best mobile learning programme nationally and internationally”.

Etherpad is a real revelation. We’ve used it before but this two days has seen us use it for a number of discussions whilst others were talking. The main one we shared amongst each other to make note about each of the speakers (especially today) and another was used to expand an idea I’d had in response to something someone else had said. It’s real benefit is that it is a wiki that behaves like you’d think a wiki should. Up to eight people can contribute simultaneously – rather than one after the other or following a refresh (F5). Let me know if you want to try it and I’ll invite you to my own and show/tell you how to set one up!

Davids TechDis badge

David's TechDis badge

Earlier in the week, I’d travelled to Gateshead College where I met some of my Cohort 2 PDAs. On Tuesday I went to Birkenhead and delivered a number of workshops about the free stuff available on Web 2.0. At this event, we experimented with QIK (see:http://qik.com/video/1702430). When I got home I found my official welcome as Accredited TechDis Trainer. This filled me with joy and I immediately added the fact that I was now officially an Accredited TechDis Trainer to my web site. See http://www.village-e-learning.co.uk and http://www.village-e-learning.co.uk/access.htm

Tuesday evening also so the arrival of my new computer. I’ve been having lots of trouble with my two (XP and Vista) laptops, so I’ve taken the plunge and bought an Apple MacBook Pro. It’s beautiful. It’s even beautifully packed. See video @http://qik.com/video/1703984 (I can figure out how to embed it yet)

Personal Projectors

3M_MPro-3It’s been a strange week. I’ve had lots of time at home to do lots of preparation for upcoming and existing work. But I’ve really found it hard to motivate myself. Time slips by so quickly and I find myself lurching from one cup of tea (or coffee) to another with short bursts of activity, which are themselves interspersed with visits to Twitter, Jaiku or now; FriendFeed.  My work list has included geeing up PDAs (they have to submit draft Action Plans by today); preparing for my week’s work co-delivering an ILT course to European delegates; preparing for one-off gigs at Birkenhead 6th form college and Ashton Under Lyme 6th form college and finishing some work for NGFL Cymru.

Yesterday was an enjoyable interlude. I delivered and e-Guides plus event in Leeds. My co-trainer (although I suppose officially he wouldn’t be called that) was Kevin Campbell-Wright from the JISC RSC. Although the day itself doesn’t involve much input, we still have to try and keep participants on track and motivated. It seemed to work.

During my mobile learning input (really, the only input I did yesterday) I showed them my 3M MPro 110 Pocket Projector. I’d prepared by putting the projector in one waistcoat pocket and my phone in the other. Despite the lightness of the room we were in, most of those present were impressed with the display. It’s convenience for some (one guy was from the WEA) was seen as impressive.

There are two (basically two) types of Pocket Projector available – mine (see picture) which operates from battery or mains and will show off images from portable devices AND (here’s the main difference) from laptops. The other works from battery (re-chargeable but can’t be used when plugged in) BUT can work on its own without any other device – taking the presentation (whatever it is) from a memory card. This type does not have the capability of projecting from a laptop.  See the comparison page at http://www.personalprojector.co.uk/ (tell them I sent you and they may give you a small discount).

And today has been like the early part of the week. Lots of phoning around this morning, some European work this afternoon and now – the bath! 🙂

Sunny Day in May

I’m taking a bold step here and making the first move towards shifting the Village e-Learning Blog over to WordPress.

boulogneThis has many advantages for me. The original blog is hosted by 1and1 and they (1and1) will continue to host the Village e-Learning web site (for now). However, I have always used MS Front Page to do my web authoring and this is not supported by my main Vista laptop (and I cannot find the Front Page disk, to try it anyway). So, I keep having to use my tired old XP Toshiba (which is still a little workhorse, despite the scratch pad not working anymore).

I have a version of Dreamweaver I could use, but can’t find the time to learn how it works. It’s ok for patching but I’d have to devote time to learn exactly how Dreamweaver works. I really need a solution that works from any machine, anywhere! So let’s see what WordPress can do.

It seems to be the most professional looking blog tool – certainly better looking than some of my other attemps (but this is my first post and I haven’t finished with the design yet – so it might become hideous)

It will remain more of a personal diary than a comment on my work. Nevertheless, work will no doubt be a large part of the blog as that’s what I do for most of the week. But, I still hope to talk about my family, my holidays and to rant about various injustices I come across: usually the food industry!

:0)

David