Childhood in the Digital Age – Week 4



This week I completed the fourth and final week of the the Childhood in the Digital Age FutureLearn online course. This weeks focus was upon technology in the future classroom.

This week, although pitched as future classrooms, outlined what is going on in the classrooms of today. Namely flipped, teachers as mentors, the ability to utilise metrics and enabling individualised support (always a target and a challenge for any educator) and how technology is supporting these endeavours. Going on to enabling self progression coupled with the ability to receive immediate feedback can accelerate learning in comparison with established forms of learning. Two apps that were highlighted was the Open Universities and ‘Our Story’ (for iOS or Android) and the maths apps developed (and later modified for the UK) by One Billion (for iOS) for 3-6 year olds.

This week took about 60 minutes.


Childhood in the Digital Age – Week 3



This week I completed the third week of the the Childhood in the Digital Age FutureLearn online course. This weeks focus is upon thinking and learning behaviours that are emerging from digital learning.

This weeks, the best so far, highlight for me was in regards to “text speak” and a linked to an excellent video resource outlining the ‘problem’ with text speak, not that it has issues in itself but that it is perceived incorrectly. It raises the view that if we look at text speak from a fingered speech perspective then it makes sense, we don’t verbalise with long passages of prefect pronunciation, it utilises conventions that suit its own medium that we have not had the opportunity to develop until the age of the instant mobile communication.

And far from a language decline, written communication is relatively new in our own evolution, text speak should be seen for its creativity, a more natural form of communication and one that is actually evolving. The example is given of the term ‘LOL’ which has evolved from a ‘Laugh Out Loud’ Acronym to one that indicates empathy/agreement or the use of ‘slash’ as a way to move topic which would otherwise be indicated through mannerisms or pauses in face to face communication.

I remember using emoticons and acronyms when using Internet Relay Chat (IRC), emoticons evolving into emojis that has recently had skin tone modifiers,  maybe we should see text speak as more a strengthening of linguistic repertoire than a decline. Surely other systems have evolved? After all we don’t write or speak like Shakespeare and Latin is certainly not mainstream.

Part of this week was also multitasking, when is too much and when is it appropriate, with a fascinating look on the beneficial impact of gaming such as in improved eyesight, attention and tracking and positive effects on those with ADHD such a being less impulsive.


This week took about 75 minutes.


Childhood in the Digital Age – Week 2



This week I completed the second week of the the Childhood in the Digital Age FutureLearn online course. This weeks focus is upon childhood personas online and forming friendships that may/may not affect social development.

One forum post pointed to a great video by the raconteur Stephen Fry discussing the impact and future of the internet [ ].

Every technology or tool can be subverted, its about instilling values about the correct use and inappropriateness. As the pace of life ever quickens we need mechanisms to keep pace, young people know far more than previous generations and the online world such as utilising YouTube to self-study supports this on-going trend. The fact that online will never go away, far from it, it will continually evolve and we need to develop support mechanisms that evolve alongside.

We have heard a number of comments regarding cyber-bullying or trolling and I wonder what you think of the article ? A blessing for those making a genuine mistake in the online world at a young age, or a license to not consider wider implications? I would be very interested when the publish the report at the end of the year.

The later part of this weeks session looked at safe environments (club penguin, moshi monsters and habbo) and the use of avatars.

This week took about an 90 minutes.


Childhood in the Digital Age – Week 1



This week I completed the first week of the the Childhood in the Digital Age FutureLearn online course. This week set the scene looking at the risks versus the  opportunities and the disproportion between the two. Both sides of the argument were explored and  the chasm of drama or risky opportunities highlighted. The three hour course took me 90 minutes, and that included looking at all the media and reviewing the forums. I am looking forward to next weeks sessions, especially after no homework other than thought provoking reflections.



Visual Thinkery


Recently at the eFair2015 (see recent posts) I had one of those further turns of fate that just seem to converge recent events. Enter in one Bryan Mathers at his Visual Thinkery website at . Here was someone obviously loving what they were doing, which are multifaceted, one being taking thoughts and phrases and marrying them up with visual representations – hold the phone – is this guy doodling, and making an amazing job of it? you bet!

Bryan kindly allows use of his “thinkery” with attribution, my favourite being above. I am not the only one inspired I have come across at least two other blogs in the last few weeks that clearly have been inspired by Bryan’s visuals. I am not going to steal his thunder (not with my skills) but I am going to be further inspired that I can sketch and I certainly am going to use some of my own works of art in my teaching practice (and occasionally in a blog post).

A virtual sledgehammer has been taken to my own creative barrier (see last post)




Online Courses – Future Learn

Future Learn Logo

I have been meaning to start carrying out some online learning courses for a number of reasons:

  • Curiosity
  • Good practice
  • Up-skilling

I intend to look at not only a range of subjects (related to tech and my role) but from differing vendors. Currently I have only carried out small online courses that have lacked depth and structure – in fact they have been able to be carried out in a few hours – with the eception of a 5 week 15 hr course by Pivital Education, this was delivered on the Canvas VLE platform. I loved the ability to post experiences to each weekly forum and read the experiences of others (something that lacked in the smaller courses).

So having looked around I am starting this week with Future Learn and a 4 week (3hrs/wk) course on childhood in the digital age, why not join me?  it started this week.



Barriers to Learning (My Own)



I don’t consider myself a poor student, I have more qualifications than I can shake a stick at, some things I have had to do for my career but in the most they have been personal interests. My eldest has just recently left reception and this year has been a journey for both of us. He did not just play educational games and get to grips with school life, as I wrongly assumed, he learnt to read and interact with his peers. But I want to play my part as much as I can and realised fairly quickly that he had some barriers that needed to be overcame for various reasons:

  • He either did or didn’t, often saying he could not do something
  • Getting frustrated when he couldn’t
  • getting bored with the repetitiveness of some activities

This got me thinking on how I could support the little one…

  • Yes he could not do some things – Yet! I have made sure I have highlighted this
  • He may get frustrated on not doing the whole thing – focus on the intervals, the small steps, the progression
  • Mix it up, change the activities but retain the focus and outcomes

Basic stuff I know, but it came with the revelation that I haver the same issues as an adult… I cannot draw. The comment is designed to convince myself that I cannot so what is the point. It is defeatist.

  • I can draw, maybe not very well, but I can hold a pen.
  • I don’t practice enough.
  • I hold myself up to others standards (way beyond my own)

So I started to watch a few YouTube videos, nothing heavy, just short instructional clips.  Reminding me of the skills I used to have in art classes in school (perspective, shading, etc). I am still rubbish, I am never going to take it up as a serious hobby (yet!) but I can throw together some sketches and doodlings (they should not call it art or drawing but doodling, I can do that very well).  I though I would demo one of my recent sketches in this post (plus there is one in the the earlier “Heron’s Six Categories of Intervention” and “Moving towards FELTAGS 50%” posts)


Active Presenter


I have used this software for awhile now and it has recently gone through a major upgrade, developed by atomi systems, Active Presenter allows for automated annotation of desktop activities. However the software is so much more than first glance, costing relatively little, it is a low cost solution alternative to adobe captivate. It allows for the following of any presentation captured in a range of formats inclufing video, PDF, word, PowerPoint and HTML 5:

  • Editing
  • demonstration (watch)
  • tutorial (interact, with guiodance)
  • practice (interact, without guidance, numerous times with metrics)
  • test (interact, without guidance,  once with metrics)
  • SCORM compliant – pass metrics onto Virtual Learning Platform or other SCORM compliant systems

What really impresses me about active presenter is that with it’s recent 5.0 it allows for a range of interactions:

  1. mouse clicks
  2. key strokes
  3. text area
  4. mouse over
  5. drop area
  6. question sets…
    • true/false
    • multiple choice
    • multiple respinse
    • essay
    • fill in blank
    • fill in multiple blanks
    • sequence
    • drag ‘n’ drop

You can download the software for free, paying the minimal licensing costs removes the watermark from the top right corner (video’s lacking interaction do not have a watermark). An educational license is approximately £65

Review the versatility the software allows for at their Demo section.




Windows 10


Windows arrived on Wednesday. I foolishly rushed to install. I forced that download into windows update every time it reported an error (that turned out to be a connection error). The installation got as far as 86% and then failed due to migration of settings.  I rushed to download the media creation tool and throw an image onto a USB stick. again thwarted as the installation froze at the last few hurdles. No fear, it gave me the option of a reboot and installation was now happening from the machine itself. I assumed it had dumped it off the USB. In the end it not matter as it still failed! I retried the windows update route again. It was re downloading the image from scratch! Sod it I’m cancelling it all and going to bed.

The morning found me in a better from of mind but not one that wanted to bother with Windows 10. But fate brought two elements together…

  1. I found out  windows update was ready to try another install
  2. I needed to go out to the shops (Butter for making cookies with my boys)

On my return… Success! I have upgraded from Windows 7 and whilst I am not in love with Windows 10 I don’t dislike it. It certainly is better than Windows 8. So what do you actually get (beyond Win 7).

  • Start Menu and Tile integration – the best of both worlds
  • Snap to corners (not just sides)
  • Add the recycle bin to the start menu (now I can hid the desktop version and not worry about lengthy steps to access)
  • Search on toolbar
  • MS edge, IE’s replacement, I love the annotation facility
  • The ability to access apps (a benefit for a Win7 user, don’t feel like i’m missing out now)

I hate the photo app – it works for wife’s account but not my own – not a deal breaker but frustrating!