The days are getting longer …

… and time is flying

So, it’s now the end of week 3; I’m getting more familiar with teams – and still not really liking it. I’ve also experienced a much bigger teams meeting than I have before – I think I’d have found collaborate much easier for that particular meeting.

I was also meant to be doing a conference presentation for QAA Scotland. It would have been the first for a long time, so was both looking forward to getting back to going to conferences & presenting, but a wee bit nervous. Of course, it was cancelled. They wanted the presentation in advance if possible, and work meant that it wasn’t really finished until the night before, and it wasn’t quite what I’d have done face to face. I didn’t have the time to find good photos (either from my own Flickr stream, or elsewhere)

This is it.

The QAA session, what I saw of it via twitter and a couple of live streams was useful – I just wish I’d been there, as I think I’d have got a lot from it. OER20 looked excellent (as usual) from their twitter stream. I’m hoping that next week, as the students have their Easter break, I’ll have time to catch up on the resources from both.

Another thing I’m hoping to have time for next week, is a few more of the informal 1:1 calls – with a coffee – I think I’m missing that a lot! I managed one this week. Given that our team task for the day was to share a favourite biscuit, here’s mine (as I’ve given up chocolate for Lent, it’s not my own photo)

A jaffa cake

By Asim18 – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3155609

The weekend is rapidly approaching – this caught my attention last Friday so I’ll repeat it today.

Juggling with water …

… and drowning in a sea of URLs.

While in some ways this week was easier than last week – I was, after all, in the same location all week, it’s also been yet another week of change.

At the weekend, I’d decided my old bike was on its last wheels, so went to get a new one. All ordered, and agreed to pick up later in the week. Then it was the lockdown, though luckily I discovered the following day that cycle shops were exempt.

That aside, I’ve been finding this week that there are so many things that need to be done, we’ve meetings galore – meetings online are tiring, but they get easier as you get used to them. The daily drop in support sessions we’ve been doing for staff have gone really well – the chance to chat to staff about what they’re doing – they’re so appreciative that it’s worth it  – despite the odd technical glitch. It’s also giving us an insight as to what staff are coping with – they have far more people in a session than we do; often with a greater range of technical skills.

It’s not just drop ins, though, I’ve been trying, for most of the week, to make screencasts of aspects of Turnitin – trying to remember what I’d say in a classroom session, but to make it more concise (something I fear I don’t do well). I sadly didn’t manage to get to more than a few moments of this year’s PressEd conference – and I’m painfully aware that I should be doing a presentation for another conference that’s due to be delivered online next week …

That’s the juggling with water for this week.

Now the sea of URLs. As with so many, I accumulate URLs, I see them in Twitter, on news feeds, I find them who knows where; they get flung into pocket and generally just go there to wither. Some were from how people are thriving, moving learning online; I’m impressed by the time they seem to have to get things done, the quantity and quality of what they can generate seemingly in the here and now. There were, however, posts that chimed more immediately with me.

Firstly, It’s always useful to see what tools students are suggesting for other students – thanks to Matty, Kai, Curtis and Gagan for this.

Moving to the staff view, Alan Levine has summed this up as a ‘flawed experiment’ – though I’d like to think that at the end of it all, though not the best experimental design, we have found ways to help others over that chasm. That when it’s all back to “normal” – whatever the new normal will be, we can find ways to support change to the unknown.

Lee Skallerup Bessette has a powerful post looking at the juggling we’re all doing – though it’s a little more controlled than my water, I feel! She makes so many points that I agree with, so rather than pointing out any key ones, I’ll just say – I agree 100%.

From a technical point of view – I want to find an app that lets me do the slide images that the BBC are using so effectively here – if anyone knows a relevant plugin for WordPress, do let me know – I think I’m using the wrong search term!

In our team, we’ve been doing a daily challenge – today it was favourite children’s books. So many fun ones have been suggested!

Just to finish up – I was able to pick my bike up mid week – looking forward to giving it a bit of a test (locally!) at the weekend.

What a week!

Looking at my blog, I realise I haven’t blogged for over a year. I think, though, in the last week, more has changed in many ways than the whole of this period.

This time last week, we were assuming teaching would continue on campus, albeit with lots of hand washing. Sunday morning we heard face to face teaching would cease with immediate effect. Monday morning came – the campus was, naturally, much quieter than usual, though most staff – at least those in the library and that I came into contact with were on campus. We’d got the first of our drop in sessions to support staff transitioning to teaching online – we had over 60 people at one stage. I had to send for reinforcements! Oh, and I got an email from Marie, saying she’d posted my guest blog post

Tuesday – and the University decided that if you could work at home, you should. Luckily, I had my car, and took all I thought I’d need.

A pile of stuff!

Now, what did I forget?

Wednesday, the first day of working from home, thinking about the practical set up – at the time that was put my work stuff on my craft table, and leave my personal Mac on the desk. I’m now thinking of switching them at the weekend, as it’ll give me more space on the craft table for hobbies.

Thursday, and I discovered I couldn’t find my Apple mouse, my craft table doesn’t have a flat surface, and finally I’d got the wrong charger for the laptop. I’d managed to book a hair appointment – so escaped back to Dundee for a while. The train was more or less empty, the library almost deserted, but I did manage to have a wonderful haircut (v. short), buy some flour (which I later realised was gluten free) and just feel far more relaxed for the evening session I’d previously arranged on using TII for some (already distant) staff.

Empty office

Empty office (Thanks to Hamish for the photo) 

And now it’s Friday. The library is closing completely at 4; I’ve figured out teams a bit more, but I’m now starting to think of the weekend, and what I can do to amuse myself when so many things are closed.

So, some of my ideas for things to do:

  1. Get the bike sorted out – then use it!
  2. Explore all those hills that are on my doorstep
  3. Actually complete the Lego Chalet books covers! ( I realise I need to sort out the flickr album!)
  4. Start to tackle the To Be Read pile.
  5. Garden more
  6. Blog more. Will I manage to do this once a week, I wonder. I’m going to try. It’s going to be such a different time, that maybe I will be able to get the momentum I didn’t have before.

Getting the next generation of bloggers …

Work is fairly busy at this time of year – you think you have the VLE all set up for the new students, then there are the Turnitin Assignments to help people set up, weird glitches that seem to happen unexpectedly …
However, one job that should be fun is that I’ve been asked to run a workshop to help students set up blogs, they’ll be using WordPress.com, rather than one within the URL. It’s a careers related initiative – the students and work place mentors will be using them. An ex-colleague from Portsmouth asked me about blogging on Blogger the other day – he was doing it for some placement students.  I’d totally forgotten that one reason I’d not used it all those years ago when I first got students blogging was the inability to set individual posts to be private. It was an all or nothing approach. Given that the students I’m helping on Monday are also doing externally facing blogs about work related activities, I’m glad to have discovered that while the hosted wordpress might not allow one of the plugins that has multiple user permissions, at least it does allow individual posts to be password protected. (I’d used Post Levels to facilitate different users having access to ‘private’ posts – without giving them full admin rights)

I thought I’d try to find a post that compares WordPress (hosted, not self hosted) and Blogger. It’s surprisingly difficult! Most have a particular bias (SEO), or they’re actually self hosted WP vs. Blogger. The Current State of Educational Blogging (Sue Waters) favours Edublogs (based on WP). I’m sure there’s a handy chart out there comparing the features (esp. those I’m interested in!) I’ve yet to find it.

It’s also good to see that we do have some enthusiastic student bloggers at Dundee – will be keeping an eye on their blogs.

Changes ….

Change is something that has cropped up a lot for me, both personally and from a work point of view. Around this time last year, I decided to leave my job, sell my house and move North (there were personal reasons for that, it wasn’t a wild whim). That involved leaving a job I’d had for about 3 times longer than any other job I’d had, a place I’d lived in for longer than elsewhere, and possibly a change of country (depending on your view of the relationship between Scotland and England).
Since moving, I’ve now found a new job; in a different, albeit related field. I’ve arrived in a University that’s undergoing changes itself, into a team that’s undergoing change. I’m working in a field that is changing rapidly – if I think about my first computer, things have changed a lot
flickr photo shared by Emmadukew under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license
So, from that point of view, I’d have thought I’d find change not too difficult, but it’s not as easy as just learning a new OS. Well, not to me!

I was recently lent Who Moved My Cheese, which is a bit “American”; but makes a good point, about how different people react to change, and, I think, different types of change. I think I have a bit of “Sniffy” “Scurry” “Hem” & “Haw” in my, I suspect everyone does.

All of that said, I am enjoying my new role, working with new colleagues, getting to see an Educational Technologists view of eLearning, getting to grips with different systems, both organisational and technical, and even getting used to a train, rather than a bike in the morning. (It’s a lot drier!)

One of the changes I’d intended to make was to start blogging more often; there is time yet for that to happen! (Oh, and we’re moving house again soon, though this time about 1 mile across town, not 700 miles north!)

And it’s tiring! I’ve got a long weekend – so am really looking forward to it.

Johnson, S. (1999). Who moved my cheese? an amazing way to deal with change in your work and in your life. London: Vermilion.

Blogging, and other tools generally…

I’ve started looking through various bookmarked pages; an interesting co-incidence that when I thought I’d try to look at a range of aspects of Blogging in HE, I found that WordPress now offers the ability to use an online creator at WordPress.com to write for a self hosted blog. Not sure I’d bother in the future, but useful to test it now!

So, blogging. Where do I start? Well, where did I start? August 2004; that was just before we started teaching a unit that was going to require students to blog, so I thought I’d better have a go myself. I wasn’t entirely sure, as I’ve never been a great writer, but I got going. Over the years my blogging has waxed and waned, I’ve taken to twitter , then as we started to move students at Portsmouth into Google Apps for Education, so Google+  seemed more relevant. (This is a general one, I lost the Portsmouth one when I left). There were other tools in between times, many of which stopped offering freely hosted services (anyone else used to use Elgg?), or didn’t work for long enough to really get students to use them (Google Wave anyone?)

Today, there are so many different options – recently, I’ve had Known mentioned to me; what I’d not realised is that it’s developed by Ben Werdmuller – who’d co-founded Elgg (which I’d liked a lot at the time).

I’ve just read another story covering the changes in tools used – other than Facebook, I’d say I’ve tried most of those, either for myself, or with students. Some I’ve stuck to, some I’ve drifted from. When I left Portsmouth, I realised the problems with having material tied up in a particular domain. Moving this blog was easy – WordPress makes it so. Extracting all my contacts from Google Apps far less so. I created a “takeout” – but it’s not going to be easy to get it all back into my current account. I am starting to do it manually. Guess this is where it all adds up to a PLE. (Or, given that these are mostly things designed to work with others, a PLN).

[Oh, and not sure I’d bother using WordPress.com to create posts in the future, though it is a very clean looking interface]

 

New job!

When I left Portsmouth University in September, I’d never imagined that I’d have been offered a new job before Christmas (after all, the plan was to sell the house, move North, get to know the area, *then* start looking for work). However, a post as Educational Technologist came up at Dundee University – I’m now at the end of my first week here.
There are  differences between the two roles – Academic and Educational technologist – but also similarities. This week has been mostly getting to know people; where the best eateries are (The Tower Cafe wins for views); and starting to get to grips with Blackboard (not really that different from Moodle/WebCT/etc), ExamOnline and reminding myself about QuestionMark and Turnitin.

Day 33

Meanwhile I’m also getting used to using a managed Windows PC again (rather than a self managed Mac), and a shared office. (Good for getting to know people, especially if you’re opposite the kettle!)

I’m also hoping to get better at using this blog to post about eLearning developments – after all, that needs to be my focus right now. (That should link to the need to tidy up the million and one useful links I have scattered between Pocket, Diigo, Twitter likes etc).

Today, I’ve skim read the NMC Horizon Report > 2016 Higher Education Edn. As well as the predictions for 1 year etc, I like the “solvable” / ” difficult” / “wicked” challenges – in particular the concept of balancing connected and unconnected lives, which is, as perhaps expected seen as wicked; it’s one, though, that several of the other problems they list can feed into.