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)




eFair 2015 Resources

The resources from the recent eFair can be found on the events website at I would like to say a huge thanks to Brad Wright @veescope for providing the great Veescope Live giveaways. I have already been approached by a manager who has requested further training and has ordered three green screens for her team!



Windows Holographic

I am not a major fan of “look what’s coming” videos, they often promise lots but rarely deliver, and I have avoided getting caught up in the HoloLens promos of Microsoft. However the keynote at the Microsoft Build Developer Conference [April 29 – May 1] 2015 certainly looks impressive (as well as the demo’s of Windows 10, Cortana and Edge – Microsoft’s OS, Virtual assistant and new browser respectively) [From 4:06:00 to 4:27:00]



eFair 2015 Live!

Today is the eFair 2015 @South Essex College, Thurrock Campus. For all things related check out:



eFair 2015 Website Goes Live

The website for the eFair2015 is now live at  with yours truly featuring under the workshops page! Check out the bio pic…


Developing for Online Resources – Andy Crissell, Advanced Practitioner, South Essex College.

Most of you know Andy, the learning technology evangelist – always looking for new ideas. He will be delivering an engaging hands-on session on how to take what you have and make it engaging and interactive. He also has some magic planned as part of his act. Not to be missed!!!

I did not write the accompanying blurb! 🙂


Making the Case for Online Learning

The FELTAG report recommends that we move to a 50% online model and I am sure a large number of educators ask “what’s the rush?” and “What are the benefits greater than what we already do?”. I could offer a number of answers, that are rather obvious, such as…

  • “What do we need to push us forward to catchup with our US cousins? another government mandate?” – It’s actually refreshing to have something worthwhile but with us ‘trailblazing’
  • “We can offer what we have to a diverse range of learners” – not to mention re-invigorate our own materials (your thinking of that colleague that has that photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopied resource!

But a recent TED talk by Daphne Koller says it all and much more whilst enticing top universities to put their most intriguing courses online for free with Coursera (cofounded by Andrew Ng). The lessons learnt make for interested observations. Daphne’s TED talk is certainly worth a watch-

What I did take way from the TED talk (given the complexity of requirements for Cousera) is that more than ever we will need Domain Experts (Educators) to organise, deliver and help develop the course materials with their strong understanding of teaching & learning but with a firm understanding of technology with the support of Technologists that can put in place the infrastructures and guide  others to what is possible whilst having a firm understanding of teaching & learning! The lines are becoming, and rightly so, blurred (no humming a certain tune please!) and we are going to be working in tandem for the good of our learners and not see technologists as a service.



Eastern (UK) Region e-Fair

I am not going to re-invent the wheel, so below is the blurb for the upcoming Eastern (UK) Region e-Fair, where I will be delivering one of the workshops. Want to get involved then read on…

On 3rd July, South Essex College, the lead partner for The Learning Consortium which is commissioned and funded by The Education and Training Foundation, will be hosting the annual Eastern region e-Fair at our new campus in Grays. The theme for the event is digital curriculum design. The recommendations of the FELTAG report have highlighted that FE and Skills providers need to be planning and implementing innovative models of delivery using technology. Therefore, the purpose of this event is to highlight examples and strategies for practitioners of how this can be achieved.

The event is free to attend for all FE and Skills providers in the region. There will be a range of key speakers (more info below) as well as workshops delivered by colleagues from the sector. There will also be colleagues showcasing their good practice in the use of learning technology in our Show and Tell area.

To view the agenda and confirm your place CLICK HERE

Like every year, the success of this event depends on the contributions from the region. If you would like to run a hands-on workshop or perhaps would just like a stall to showcase what you have been doing at your organisation, please fill out one of the respective forms below:

Workshop form –

Show and Tell –


Key speakers

 Bryan Mathers – Think Out Loud club

Bryan is a learning technology guru who in part is an advisor to City & Guilds on embedding technology into learning design and is a lead support for the Think Out Loud club.  The club brings together other evangelists who share successes and pain to support each other on the Further Education sector’s journey to becoming more digital. In addition to this Bryan is heavily involved in another venture – Wapisasa.

Wapisasa is a digital agency – but probably not like any you may have seen before. For a start, Wapisasa is a non-profit organisation (Community Interest Company) focused on the development of young people (Rookies) with aptitude, creativity and enthusiasm. We use Mozilla Open Badges to map out a personalised pathway, and to recognise their learning and development. Each week, one day is set aside for self-directed interest-led learning, in the form of a Maker Day.


Stephen Heppell: Stephen is a leading voice on the role of ICT in learning and is Professor of New Media Environments at the Centre for Excellence in Media Practice. He leads pedagogic research at the Centre and supervises PhD students. Previously, Stephen spent around a quarter of a century building Ultralab, which established an exceptional, unique, reputation as a world leading learning technology research centre. He later went on to head his own policy, research and practice consultancy which advises governments and national agencies throughout the world on the strategic development of ICT (


Stephan Caspar: Stephan is the lead for Media Development at Southampton University. Having previously worked in FE where he supported staff to make effective use of technology in their delivery. Currently he is working on content creation for MOOCs and the Southampton Learning Environment as well as producing their own podcasts, teaching students how to make videos with their phones, making short films to support funding bids, capturing lectures, conferences and events.



Microsoft Showcase Classroom

(c) @GlennWoolaghan [Twitter]

Yesterday I spent the day with Microsoft looking at their Showcase Classroom. I really did not have a clear perception of what to expect other than looking at different mobile devices. So what did the day entail (and was it worth it!)?

Firstly it was free other than the cost of getting to London, Victoria and back for 10:00am – 3:30pm. A cup of coffee and a pain-au-chocolate later and we was shown a brief “Sway” presentation before the big reveal, doors slid open in our relatively small room, showing a much larger room with bright colours, comfy stool and giant bean bags. We grab a mobile device… this is going to be interactive! I pick a rugged grey “Stone” tablet with keyboard and a carry handle, colleagues pick HP tablets or Surface Pro’s – they all do the job they need to do.

We are asked to rate out the following out of four possible options: Don’t know what it it, aware, used a bit, used a lot using coloured post-it’s.

  • Windows 8.1 – its search capabilities and seamlessness
  • Yammer – social networking in a safe environment
  • Office 365 – buckloads, I even learnt about “Delve” (did you know a 365 account gives you 5 downloadable office’s?)
  • OneNote – the collaborative side utilising OneNote Classroom
  • OneDrive – limitless
  • Lync (Skype for Business) – connect to others and record sessions!

Now I was able to answer “used a lot” for all but that’s more a comment upon the organisation I work for and the projects I am involved in. I found the delivery that followed upon these technologies well thought-out and verging on seamless. a worthy day for the less tech proficient for sure. We had an outline of Mix and Sway (yes I felt an over whelming smugness) and then a hard-sell pitch for taking back-end services and pushing to our learners – progress, options, etc. (way off but lord-able goals). Finally we had highlighted windows 10 and  HoloLens.

I certainly found the day worthwhile but I took a number of key things with me…

  1. The organisation I work for are certainly embracing the tech discussed
  2. Although the room looked funky the backless “stools” were not nearly as comfortable as the “sit-in” bean bags
  3. Despite discussing how being untethered from the front of the classroom is ideal, it wasn’t applied (beyond a demonstration)
  4. A number of technologies will not work fully until we are in a 1-2-1 device position (such as OneNote)
  5. I cannot see myself bringing everything together under one platform, I am all for diversity in technology (Our D.A.V.E. intranet covers the likes of Delve and Yammer)
  6. Finally, there was a lot of discussion around learners subverting the technologies. More of this on a future post.


“Spring Forward” Apple Media Event – March 2015

Apple event logo

So the Apple Event “Spring Forward” is today  with the following expectations:

  • Apple Watch
    • Pricing – expectations starting at $349 for the aluminium (normally this equates to the same price in £’s in the UK), $499 for stainless steel and anything in the £1,000’s for the gold
    • Battery life –  working day+ or all day? with a quick charge (for example 20 mins will last the evening)
    • Shipping – next month?
  • Revamping of the Apple shops to take account of the fashion shopping experience?
  • Updated MacBooks
  • New Apple TV – long time coming!
How to Watch
Apple will provide a live stream of the event, which kicks off at 5pm 9th of March 2015 (10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern) suitable for viewing on a recent Mac, iOS device, or Apple TV.
AppleInsider will be on hand at the Yerba Buena Center and will bring live coverage from the venue.


Having just wrapped up at 6.35pm GMT the key points were:

  • Apple Pay accepted at 700,00 locations and growing
  • Apple TV now able to have HBO Now (US only?)
  • Apple TV now cheaper at $69
  • Medical research on the Health Kit on the iPhone (5 apps available today)
  • Macbook
    • space gray, silver, gold
    • 24% thinner than macbook air
    • 2lbs
    • New full size keyboards
    • 12″ Retina display
    • Force sensor touchpad (Taptic)
    • Fanless
    • All day battery life (9-10hrs)
    • Only 1 port – all wireless. Share with AirPlay, AirDrop. Most versatile power connector: USB, power & Display Port/VGA/HDMI, standard “USB-C” aka “USB 3.1 type C”
    • Shipping April 10th
  • 13″ Macbook Pro
  • Apple Watch
    • Watch Sport anodized aluminum (silver or space gray)
    • Watch Stainless Steel (Traditional and space black)
    • Watch Edition (Yellow or rose gold)
    • Every Notification that your iPhone gets so does your watch
    • Siri by touching the crown or by “Hey Siri”
    • Wireless Payments
    • Answer calls on watch
    • 18hr charge
    • Magnetic charger
    • Control music
    • Taptic engine
    • Will suggest more movement less sit
    • Apple Watch App is available with iOS 8.2 now!
    • two sizes 38mm/42mm
    • Aluminium anodized alloy is 60% stronger than normal aluminium
      • Sport: £299/42mm is £345 approx.
    • Stainless steel 80% harder
      • Steel: £479 (upto £949 depending on band choice)/42mm £525 approx.
    • Edition $10,000 (Limited quantities)
    • Available April 10th
    • The larger watch reportedly has a larger battery (but this may not mean longer life as it is likely to require more power)
    • 2.5hr charging
    • Will Sow time for upto 72hrs, once other functionality is turned off

No major surprised except for the MacBook


Learning Technologies Show 2015

Our apprentices (from the right) Tom, Me. Jennifer & Dan

Our apprentices (from the right) Tom, Me. Jennifer & Dan

Yesterday found me at the Learning Technologies Exhibition at Olympia representing the eLearn Design Consortium. As a self confessed insomniac I normally have a fitful sleep in the earlier hours, the morning of the exhibition I was up at 5am not though insomnia but trepidation. I still find it amusing I still ‘geek out’ at this sort of thing, although it’s not that surprising given that I feel we really are in the tech era – it’s here now, not in the near future as we have spouted over the last 2 decades.

I arrived early. An opportunity for a cup of java and an early look round. What struck me was the size of the expo, everything seemed well laid out there was a number of “studios” for seminars. My initial fears of a combined Learning Technologies and Learning & Skills effort were unfounded

As ever these excursions are a great source of inspirations, you can’t very well buy up every VLE, LMS OR CMS offering, and there certainly were some gems. From drones to computer based training giants such as But what did strike me was the main staple was VLE/LMS/CMS or resource-creation and supply.

Now we have Moodle and we have Apprentice Learning Technologists to create our own content but there is huge market for producing material for external organisations.

So I’m exhibiting on the Design eLearn stand, you can find out more from the project link at the top of my blog, and there is a wide range of interests parties for the level 3 and level 4 courses on offer.

  • From those wishing to deliver the courses
  • Those wishing to have apprentices
  • Those wishing to gain qualification in order to move into the sector
  • Those already in the sector wishing to professionalise their current skills
  • To those wanting to sign their wife up as a present (personally I find wine, flowers and chocolates tend to work well)

I was also trying to desperately fix an MS Surface (RT 2) that is reporting “No Battery”. A new error for me, and one that beat me and a fellow former IT support engineer.

The three apprentices we have are there with one of their Mentors and they are gracious in posing for cameras! They are posted to Twitter in seconds. They were set a task to identify down useful devices and blog internally.

With their permission I will post copies of their findings to this post as they appear internally.