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)



Streaming is going mainstream with Twitters Periscope, a streaming app that allows for you to title and stream video and audio from you mobile device (both iOS & Android). Followers get notifed of your stream and can comment via text and tap the screen to show appreciation of your content in the form of rising hearts! It’s early days for Periscope but it has already added the functionality of maps to the app so that you can identify stream locations. Other functionality ….

  • Your own streams
    • Provide a stream title
    • Enabling location
    • Restrict to invitees
    • Restrict to followers
    • Tweet new stream
    • Change between front and rear cameras (swipe down)
    • Hide chat (swipe left)
    • Save to camera roll upon completion of stream
    • Identify viewers
    • Identify replays
  • Share watched streams

Currently plans are afoot to “scope” from the upcoming eFair 2015 on the 3rd of July (no necessarily from my Twitter account) #efair2015

I can see in recent weeks that it’s popularity has eased off, my first “scope” had 50 viewers, I’m lucky if I get double figures currently. An interesting video relating to Periscope and its future is worth watching at “The Speed of Outrage: Tom Scott at Thinking Digital 2015“. Whilst I feel it makes valid points regarding reaction times I do disagree with the prediction that Periscope will not be the winner for a number of reasons…

  1. Meerkat was first, clearly stating that Twitters Periscope followed
  2. It is already being further developed
  3. It’s backed by Twitter that have a few pennies in the bank
  4. Twitter was the first “micro-blogging” and seems to have remained relatively stable and the leader (and had evolved since its inception)
  • Will it become as popular as twitter? maybe not.
  • Is streaming going to become mainstream? highly likely.
  • Will something do it better than Periscope? Maybe.

That’s the problem with future tech predictions, they are just predictions. At best they turn out to be right, at worst we laugh at how wrong they were – in the end nobody really cares other than looking for YouTube Clips of Tomorrow’s World and the elusive Hover Car, Personal Jet-pack and Robotic Assistant. For further info see


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.



A Teenagers View on Social Media

Male & Female Teenager sharing headphones

A refreshing article upon a teenagers view/use of social media – a worthy read.

It’s easy to forget as an adult that young adults take opinion especially from their peers seriously, and if the article is believed transient and anonymous systems is the preferred social  solution. Or is it one that they just like to have the opportunity that the mistakes they make will actually be forogotten or lost allowing them to move on and grow?

Fickle or astute? I would like to think they are far more aware that they will make mistakes and just want to opportunity to make them and move on.


The Imposter Syndrome


I came across a term that really struck a chord with me – “The Imposter Syndrome”. Apparently harking back to our earlier selves when we would venture out the cave our rational mind would try and test our convictions.

“You don’t want to go out there. It’s dark and cold. Your not quick enough to see attackers or strong enough to fight them off!”

Whether this was to test or resolve or stop us being foolishly rash it is a feelings by of dread that creeps over me overt now and then.

What makes me knowledgable enough to blog about learning teach or even tech in general? Fifteen years as an engineer and nearly the same as a computing lecturer.

What makes me worthy of an opinion to the masses? I have as much of a worthy opinion as anyone and I have said I would not jack errors or omissions along the way.

And so it goes on, even into the non-tech areas of my practice. it suddenly occurred to me how many educators have wanted to or even tried to utilise tech and had The Imposter Syndrome cast doubts on their practice, in many an occasion using the persuasive argument Taft the learners will know more and show you up, I bet coupled with the dreaded failures in setup of a tech or worse still in-action have quashed what enthusiasm had driven them forward.

So I say embrace The Imposter Syndrome. Knowing it is a realistic barrier to progressive use of tech in your practice the first positive step is saying “to hell with you, I’m still gonna give it a damn good try!” .

It’s not about suffering from Imposter Syndrome, it’s what you do after it.

Oh and Google the term, it’s not a buzz- term or fad!


To Blog or Not to Blog

Last week saw the launch of D.A.V.E at work, Dave is our College intranet featuring all the usual policies, procedures and forms. Where Dave differs is the inclusion of social networking facilities such as status-like updates, blogs, the ability to use @user very much like twitter and an influence rating based on your interactions with the systems and users. The system is the launch page for all our other MIS services (Management Information Systems/Services).

I would like to share a conversation I had with a colleague this week who raised many questions about D.A.V.E and made me reflect on how many staff members may be pondering similar question?….Hence the blog!

So the background on my fellow conversationalist, lets call him Dave (which it isn’t but it seemed appropriate), Dave is a tech savvy tutor but is happily a “non-social networker”. To quote Dave directly….. “wife does the social networking thing, I look over her shoulder and its all a bit irrelevant to me” I rose to the challenge, Dave was obviously somebody in need of some social networking enlightenment!

He raised some really good questions during our conversation which I think would be useful to share for other members of staff who may be teetering on the brink of engaging with D.A.V.E as was he.

Blogging Is an online diary open to a wider audience, most recent entry first (called a post) and can be from a paragraph to a full blown article that discusses your topic/focus from your perspective. A short sentence or comment that might be a statement or pose a question is generally seen as a status or comment (or in the case of D.A.V.E “What are you working on?”) and generally is not posted to a blog.

Do I need it in my life? Like anything else it’s not until you start to use it that the benefits start to become apparent I reminded Dave – remember life before the smart phone or sky/cable – he even admitted he would rather not!!!! It isn’t going to change your life but it does allow you to get in touch with like-minded individuals or groups, where you might even get answers to specific questions or share your own answers or findings.

Is it not a distraction or at the very least unnecessary background noise? I admitted it can be if the posts are not relevant or the blogger is developing their skills, but the benefits of using social technologies is that you can elect to “follow” and be informed of posts or move on. The saying “content is king” still counts for blogs – but whilst I may not be interested in hair dressing blogs (having little hair, or do they have a tonic secret!) I would love to see great tasting food recipes from the catering & hospitality team (hint hint!).

He went on to ask What am I not getting? It’s a great opportunity to tap into a wealth of resources, open up dialogue, expand conversations and reach out across our organisation to those you would not normally influence. Another tool or channel of communication. More importantly it is a great way to reach a larger interested audience.

He also questioned relevancy and time (in regards work)? Like any other channel of communication it has a settling in period, most have sent a funny email or a cheeky instant message (have you brightened up a colleagues day or cracked a smile from something you have received on MS Lync at work)? but these ease the burdens of our day, lighten our mood and generally are short lived humour. I remember getting a message to call a supplier back and getting ranted at down the phone by a ‘novelty angry chat line’. Well the novelty value will fade as people experiment and choose to either embrace or let it pass them by, and that is not a criticism, there are those that prefer face-to-face communication as much as those that like a phone call or an email.

He also raised an interesting point – Are we not just pandering to the Facebook generation and ‘liking’ everything? I would rather they did, I don’t want them to re-invent a social networking mechanism for each platform, although I still don’t get why we don’t have a ‘dislike’ or ‘meh’ [sic] option!

After a very engaging and thought provoking discussion he threw down the gauntlet and asked How would you engage me? Wow, this is the thought provoker…..

1. Read some posts, ignore those you don’t like and follow those you do
2. Got something to add? post a comment or question – ignite a debate or two – that’s what your blogger should welcome (as long as it is healthy)
3. You want to post? pick a topic or focus – most people do not want to know about every aspect of your day to day life – mine is edu tech related, I like to think I have a few relevant opinions, I don’t tell you about my latest recipe (although I can if you want – I make a killer focaccia)
4. Posting should be sustainable, I have blogged everyday for 100 days straight and it is a killer, aim to blog at intervals to maintain interest but to not burn out and never post again (called blog fading!). Once a week is more than acceptable
5. Include an image (reference source if necessary) and links for further/recommended reading

So how did the conversation end up? Well I throw the gauntlet back by looking forward to their first comment on this post and their future blog post (you know who you are “Dave”), maybe your first post could be about the path to blog enlightenment! Oh, and thanks for the material that made up this blog post, next step podcasting 🙂