The Aussies prepare to leave

It’s hard to believe, but in about 24 hours, I’ll be 24 hours from Tulsa. Another Stateside sojourn is in the offing, but this time I’m taking (a lot of) work with me. Mind you working on the Internet with 25mbit broadband is more appealing than working with my maximum 4mbit but often less than 2mbit BT Broadband at home! I also think that the 35-40c degrees of fine weather will suit me better during my time-off days and evenings (A/C permitting) than the intermittent grey cloud and rain we have here.

So we’re taking my brother and his partner back to the airport on Tuesday evening and staying there ourselves for a first-thing Wednesday morning flight to Tulsa via Dusseldorf and Chicago. It really doesn’t seem like a month since they arrived here from Australia.

The last two weeks have passed in a frantic haze. First of all work, and my preparations for the work I must do whilst in the States, took up a lot of my time and then, because Andrew and Debbie (especially Debbie) had wanted to experience France, we took off last Wednesday for a three night stay in Boulogne. Now, I’ve been to Boulogne before and I’ve stayed there overnight before, but have never toured the area surrounding Boulogne and Calais. So that led to an interesting two days driving around.

Our first morning’s objective was to amble over to Watten, on the canal just north of St. Omer. First of all, I hadn’t realised that there was such a network of canals in this part of France, nor that the back roads were so beautiful. We passed through Ardres, where it was market day, so we stopped and had our first ‘real’ coffee. St. Omer was the eventual destination for the day (a place from which you need a compass, SatNav and informed passengers to get out of) before touring the valley just south east of Boulogne (I’ve forgotten the name) and finishing in Montreuil-Sur-Mer.

Our second day saw us on the coast just inside Normandy, at Cayeux-sur-Mer (which is just next door to Brighton!) and in Abbeyville. It had rained fairly hard before we got to Abbeyville, so it was a damp walk around the town – which is probably worth a longer look some day. Cayeaux was a complete surprise as it was quiet, clean, warm (we had lunch in the town square) and easy to park. Once again, the trip was a real taste of France, something I’d not expected this far north.

None of the food we ate on the trip was worth writing about, we just had the usual stuff which is served up for tourists (along with the derision one often feels the French reserve for the English in this part of the world – I don’t feel to be an inconvenience elsewhere in France).

The worst part of our trip was the journey through England. En route, it took 40 minutes to get from the back of the queue for the Dartford Crossing to the toll booth and coming back, about 20 minutes. But then we had roadworks on the M25 which sucked up 40 minutes and a queue to get out of Bishop Stortford services that lasted for 20 minutes. Does anyone think we’re over populated (bearing in mind that France is five times the size and has roughly the same population)?

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Busy week

Phew – what a week! I have delivered eight hands-on workshops in four different colleges and a come-and-ask-me day in a Salford School.

In Huddersfield (Kirklees College) on Monday I had been asked to work with the Foundation Learning team to help them understand how some of their new kit could be used. The kit had come from a RSC-YH sponsored ‘Pathfinder’ project but had only just arrived – so not being used yet. The workshop was therefore very timely.  And, much appreciated, although I’d only been required to attend the morning session, they asked if I could stay on and “tell/show them more!” It was a great day.  My own learning was accommodated too as we did a short iPhone App-swapping session too. Best one seen on Monday? Photofunia App: free.

I continued my work with the Albion School in Salford on Tuesday, where we are helping the teaching staff to develop their VLE.  My role, as I’m sure I’ve said before, is to increase their awareness of interactivity alongside the VLE development. As always, it was another enjoyable day.

Then my travelling really started. I was at Newcastle under Lyme College on Wednesday to deliver the first two of six almost identical workshops. Each was tailored for different audiences, but each does in fact delve into the ‘Potential for ‘m” which I have discussed before. The workshop looks at mobile and modern (Web 2.0) tools and how sound pedagogical theory an weave it’s way through their deployment.

Thursday was my hardest day. I left home at 5.50am and got back at 10.10pm. A long long day – but very enjoyable. I’d been asked to work alongside Ron Mitchell at Tower Hamlets College in east London. Now, trains to London are expensive enough but when you leave your ticket at home (doh!!) it becomes an even more expensive proposition. I’d put my outward journey tickets in a waistcoat pocket and then at the last minute, decided to change the waistcoat. Easily done. Luckily, I had my return tickets in my wallet (good job I didn’t change my trousers?) otherwise the journey would have been twice the cost. Working with Ron, and the staff at Tower Hamlets was a real pleasure. Thank you.

Then on Friday, I was at Sheffield College. This was to be my last MoLeNET presentation before the final conference in September. For the third day running the weather was fabulous and everyone seemed keen to learn about ‘m’. Once again, I came away feeling refreshed – although remained dog-tired after such a busy week.

Even Saturday was busy – but in a relaxing, pleasurable way. I met Dave Boulton (and several members of his family) and Vic Dejean, to undertake (it’s a chore – but someone has to do it) the Beer Train Trail from Stalybridge to Huddersfield. This is slightly different to the one Oz Clark and James May did on T.V. and actually takes in several of the villages that the ‘local’ train stops at. I will post the day’s reflexion shortly.

July 2010

I used to like this week. This coming week was the fun week when we chefs (and sundry hospitality bods) were able to meet other teachers employed by the college. This week was when we were expected to attend cross-college events and training. There was always another less liked week, during which we met our college colleagues, when we had to carry out enrolment etc. – but THIS week was always best. It was fun and it was often developmental in a CPD sort of way. When I first started, many moons ago, it also signalled the final week before I could wrap the family up and shoot off to France.

I still like this week – but now for different reasons.

As I’m self-employed, I can’t always guarantee when work will come my way but this week is always busy. On Monday, I am working with Kirklees College on behalf of the RSC-YH. This is odd because my old college Dewsbury, and Huddersfield (where I’m going) merged in 2008. The foundation area, which I’m visiting, seems to be run by some of my old Dewsbury Colleagues – yet my own ‘hospitality’ area at Dewsbury, closed last week: for ever.

On Tuesday I’m back in Salford where I’m helping a school to develop their VLE. I have a further two days with them the following week too. On Wednesday, I’m delivering a ‘Potential of ‘m” session for Newcastle under Lyme College. This is where I look at Mobile learning and Modern learning (with Web 2.0) and linking them both to basic (Blooms) theory. Then on Thursday I’m working with Ron Mitchell, for Frank Wall at Tower Hamlets College. I think I know what I’m doing there. Then on Friday I’m at Sheffield College delivering another ‘Potential of ‘m” workshop (x2) for their MoLeNET project.

So it’s a busy week. It doesn’t let up next week either, when I do the two days in Salford, meet a colleague in Birmingham and deliver another workshop for RSC-YH, this time in Halifax. And all this time, my brother and his partner are here visiting from Australia. He’s off to Heartbeat Country tomorrow and Wales next week – before joining Sharon and me in France for four days after I’ve delivered my final gig – in Newcastle on 20th! phew.