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)


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!


Heron’s Six Categories of Intervention


In my role I am exposed to a wide range of mentoring and coaching models but I wonder how many strategies are deployed within organisations that have mentors other than “oh, if you need help go to Dave or Davina”. Dave or Davina often only supporting their mentee through instruction or advice, that is often gained through the Mentee’s prior knowledge or experience, these strategies are limiting in the fact that they do not support the mentee to develop their own support mechanisms and practice. Heron defines two categories that are broken down into separate interventions:


  • Prescriptive: Giving advice and direction.
    • Give advice and guidance
    • Inform of expected behaviour
    • Tell them what to do
  • Informative: Information for guidance and instruction
    • Give your view and experience
    • Give the background and principles
    • Help gain a better understanding
  • Confronting: Challenges attitudes and behaviours, which they may not even be aware of.
    • Challenge thinking, ask for justification or rationale
    • Mirror them, words, tone, body language
    • Tell them what you think is holding them back
    • Help them avoid making the same mistake again
    • give different options, perspectives


  • Cathartic: Support to express and overcome thoughts or emotions that have not been dealt with.
    • Help them express their feelings or fears
    • Empathize with them, but do not side
  • Catalytic: Helped to reflect, discover, and learn for themselves. Moving towards self-actualisation that supports self-directed decision making and solving problems.
    • Ask questions to encourage fresh thinking
    • Encourage the other person to generate new options and solutions
    • Prompt progression of discussion
    • Listen (80%) and summarize, and listen some more
  • Supportive: Building confidence by focusing competences, qualities, and achievements.
    • Tell the other person they are valued (their contribution, good intention or achievements)
    • Praise them
    • Show them they have your support and commitment
    • Be honest

Are you a Mentor or a Mentee? What strategies does your organisation utilise? Could you not use these with your own learners?






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!



20,000 hits over the web!

20,000 leagues under the sea

Sorry for the bad image associated (20,000 leagues under the sea!) but yesterday around noon I achieved 20,000 hits over the web for this blog, one that I am truly grateful for and something that motivates me to keep posting, thanks to every one of you that has visited!

If only I could get one more follower on Twitter for the 100! I have also reached 100 followers today on Twitter. It doesn’t get much better than this!


Moving towards FELTAGS 50%

 road to enlightenment 

I have been thinking a lot on how we encourage and motivate staff to move 10%+ of their programmes online. For some they simply are lost at sea for a variety of reasons:

  • Not technology minded (more a case that they don’t think they are)
  • Are not technology enabled (some have a smattering of items forming the equivalent of a DIYers toolkit)
  • No steer, guidance or policy (dare I say all the waters are muddy in some way!)

Now I realise every organisation will have its own little characteristics but how about the following that would realistically mimic what we would expect our own learners to do.:

  • Stop giving out specific tech beyond an initial toolkit
  • Foster a community through forums, discussion to foster good practice. 
  • Have 10% of all CPD online either pre or post event
  • With activities to be assessed within attended CPD session
  • Ensure that as much as possible CPD online sessions to utilise a variety of technology



Current Top Apps [Mid 2015]

Whilst on the hunt for new apps I thought it worthwhile to revisit my list of top 10 favourite apps, in not particular order:

  1. Veescope Live: Green screen app for work and fun
  2. Periscope: live streaming, maybe a novelty but high hopes
  3. VLC Player: plays every video format and allows variable playback speed, good to export my ‘Opinions’ to
  4. iPlayer Radio: Great for an insomniac to listen to
  5. Plex: Stream home media content
  6. Tipping Point: a Game but so addicitive
  7. Facebook/Messenger: does what it says on tin!
  8. Find Friends: locate friends
  9. BBC News: does what it says on tin!
  10. Waze: Sat Nav with crowd sourced traffic updates
  11. Opinion: Simple audio record and edit (10 minuted free)

Honorable mentions (love but don’t use much or use due to necessity)

  1. RingR Mobile: high quality phone-call capture, great for use in podcasts or evidence based assessment
  2. WhatsApp: for those with iMessage, or with a preference
  3. Feedly: curated news content
  4. ScanLife / i-nigma: QR scanners
  5. WordPress: In the majority I edit on my desktop, but just occasionally this works well
  6. Capti: Read text as audio for on the go
  7. National Rail: Plan your trip end to end with updates on delays!
  8. Hootsuite: Scheduled Twitter posts
  9. My Measures: take a photo and add dimensions, great DIY tool
  10. Pogoplug: access files on home server, backup camera roll





A novel and interesting way to share content comes along in the form of Chirp, in the form of an App and as ‘Chirp for Chrome’, enabling you to share via audio your files and websites. An end to having to post URL’s to virtual learning environments or having to write on the board and hoping you get it right and learners do too? a method to move from desktop to mobile relatively seamlessly? or maybe just a lot of noise [sic]?

  1. find a site
  2. open chirp on mobile device (so it is listening)
  3. open chirp on desktop (have your audio turned up)
  4. click the chirp yellow button with the  “lightning” symbol

Most things such as PDFs or images can be saved to you device. Shame I cannot push websites to my browsers on my iPhone and have to remain in Chirp (I have certainly looked to see if I can on an iOS device) but the app is in early development. I also cannot send a site from my iPhone to Chirp for Chrome as it does not have a listen function currently – one to watch maybe?

Update: the above post was written without actually trailing in the field. This however has now been able to take place by chance rather than planning…

Working with Apprentice Learning Technologists I needed to discuss a number of videos that I had been given a link to a YouTube playlist. Unfortunately due to being at a different campus I had no phone near the desktop pc’s I could use and I really did not want to dig out my laptop unless necessary. This is where chirp came in – I installed the chrome extension, fired up my chirp app on my iPhone, chirped the link – I was then hotfooting it to a side office with phone where I could discuss points as I went through the playlist. Seamless.