Monthly Archives: September 2013

Recent Finds and Fun 2013-09-30⤴

from @ John's World Wide Wall Display » John's World Wide Wall Display

Mozilla Webmaker

Webmaker moz

Mozilla Webmaker seems to have improved a lot since I last looked. In Doug Belshaw's Things I Learned This Week newsletter, recently, he pointed out that thimble now supported JavaScript, I went over to lok and found that the site now lists your productions: Search - for johnjohnston. I knocked up a couple of quick JavaScript examples: 5Dogs & flipcard, the later being an old one.


OpenShift by Red Hat, this is pretty amazing:

OpenShift Online is Red Hat's public cloud application development and hosting platform that automates the provisioning, management and scaling of applications so that you can focus on writing the code for your business, startup, or next big idea.

What that means is you can easily and cheaply (first 3 free), set up websites with applications. It is pretty geeky for a teacher but there are plenty of instructions, and they work.

I gave it a quick test last week and managed to get a 'server' up and running with etherpad is short order: Etherpad Lite. Not sure what I'll use that for, but I can delete it and start something else if I get to the max of 3 apps.

Openshif wp map

Slightly more useful, on an email list I am on someone asked how, using iPads, could a set of pupils construct a resource with a map and pins with images, text and video. I though this could be done with Wordpress a plugin and google maps. OpenShift allowed me to test this very quickly:

  1. Set Up a new app
  2. Installed Wordpress
  3. Added the MyGeoposition plugin
  4. Added some posts and used the plugin interface to add positions to these posts.
  5. Knocked up a quick google maps page to display the blogs RSS, which now had geo info.
  6. Added that to the blog
Here is the blog and the map.

OpenShift made it practical to turn a bit of simple blue-sky thinking into reality.

I am not suggesting that everyone should dive over to openshift and start playing. You need a slight friendship with the terminal, at least have heard of ssh and git (I've used ssh a we bit setting up the piratebox and a raspberryPi, heard of git). If you do, the possibilities for trying things out are wide open.

Desktop Wallpaper for October 2013⤴


It is time to go back to work tomorrow but to end the holiday theme it is time to upload the desktop wallpaper for October.

This photo of the Colosseum in Rome was taken in September 2013 and created with fd’s Flickr Toys

The widescreen version is available to download via the Flickr link and other formats are below.

How Online Engagement Leads to Collaboration⤴

from @ Edu Tech Stories

Its almost 3 years since I opened my first social media account and boy what a learning experience its been.

Today I am involved with, or am in discussion about, some really interesting projects - including being asked to guest blog for a couple of education publications  websites, collaborating with OCR, who are one of the largest awarding bodies in the UK, on my latest report based on Technology in FE and an interesting development with #ukfechat

It has been 9 months since I became involved with #ukfechat and this weeks session was hosted by University of Hull Lecturer Dr Carol Azumah Dennis @azumahcarol and was on the topic of "Establishing links between research and practice in FE" 

The discussion looked at some of the challenges with conducting research in Further Education and, with input from experienced researchers like Matt O’Leary @drmattoleary, we compared some of the key differences with how research is viewed in HE & FE.

Some of the comments included a lack of time, budgets, experience and how research didn't seem to be as valued in FE.

As part of my contribution to the chat I detailed my experiences with other areas of social media - highlighting aspects of inbound marketing, how producing good content is important to every profession today to avoid what Seth Godin has termed as the "Race to the Bottom."

The merry band of regulars at #ukfechat have encouraged one another to blog, get involved with what we believe to be the first FE dedicated teachmeet, the following comment was made at the end of the chat and the suggestion of taking the groups innovation and collaboration a step further;

"Right #ukfechat has got us into blogging & teachmeets, whose up for research?"

After an hour of discussing the issues - the considerations, time restrictions, the potential and the frustrations - we found that 7 people were interested in exploring the idea - @fossa99 @mrssarahsimons @csf0961 @hilarynunns @shanechowen @azumahcarol and @drmattoleary - who will be exploring some topics that we could research.

The next stage will be to find a topic and a way that we might be able to work together and collaborate given the various considerations - geographic location, difference skill sets, job roles and responsibilities, research experience, no time, no budget and not even having a set topic or hypothesis - but we're willing to explore the idea and see where it takes us.

Not bad for what is a bit of random chat about FE on a Thursday evening at 9pm? What were you doing last Thursday at 9pm? Join in the chat... and the research... you can always watch Educating Yorkshire on Channel 4+1. 

The #5MinReview by @TeacherToolkit and @Shaun_Allison⤴


The new ‘5 Minute Lesson Review’ produced by @TeacherToolkit and @Shaun_Allison, supports and encourages teachers to reflect on their own classroom practice. The template can also be used by a coach or mentor to help tease out reflection.  “Every teacher needs to improve, not because they are not good enough, but because they can get even … Continue reading »

What is leadership without management?⤴


This post forms part of my learning journal for the West Lothian Leadership Programme.


To begin to answer this perhaps it is first necessary to think about and try to define leadership and management.

My initial feelings would be that leadership is the Jed Bartlet, Nasser Hussain figure. The person who has vision, inspires people to follow that vision, ensures that the people they have working for them share that vision and work towards it.

Management often feels less positive to me. If something needs managing that for me has a connotation of a problem which needs to held in abeyance almost. It is the person who maybe stifles some of the vision of the leader in the cause of ‘a higher figure’. I’m thinking Tim Lamb trying to manage the Zimbabwe situation with Nasser Hussain in the 2003 world cup – not something conducive to progression .


As you can see I’m not exactly starting off with equally positive views of leadership and management.


My next part of the task was to read up on leadership and management. In these days of the internet information is but a click away, however finding information you trust and respect is not so easy. For my reading I chose an article from The Guardian, which then linked through to the Harvard Business Review and a blog post on Lifehacker.

John Kotter, a professor at Harvard Business School feels that

“Management is a set of processes that keep an organisation functioning. They make it work today – they make it hit this quarter’s numbers. The processes are about planning, budgeting, staffing, clarifying jobs, measuring performance, and problem-solving when results did not go to plan.”

Clearly that is a more positive definition than mine, and reading it made me realise that management is necessary to get the jobs done, otherwise the vision of the leader will not be realised.

Johnathan Gosling, from the University of Exeter gives an example of a management technique,

“Target setting is a management technique used to focus attention on certain activities. A hospital, for example, might set targets around waiting times.”

For this exercise to work, someone within the hospital must show leadership by emphasising the importance of the activity.

“In this example, the wider purpose is helping patients to lead better lives. A leader needs to inspire employees by showing how meeting a target can contribute towards this aim. They also need to think of new ways of reaching that target.”

Again, that challenges my ideas around management. In this example management leads directly to the positive outcome which the leader wants (i.e. less waiting time in hopsitals). Gosling says that someone needs to show the leadership by emphasising the importance of the target setting. Does that suggests that the leadership did not create the target setting activity? i.e. they have to show someone else’s visions?

I also read what Kotter has to say about leadership.

It (leadership) is associated with taking an organization into the future, finding opportunities that are coming at it faster and faster and successfully exploiting those opportunities. Leadership is about vision, about people buying in, about empowerment and, most of all, about producing useful change. Leadership is not about attributes, it’s about behavior. And in an ever-faster-moving world, leadership is increasingly needed from more and more people, no matter where they are in a hierarchy. The notion that a few extraordinary people at the top can provide all the leadership needed today is ridiculous, and it’s a recipe for failure.

I think that is something which sits easily with my initial feelings around leadership. Bartlet and Hussain were people who changed things (ok one was fictional!!) for the better. My view of the captains who succeeded Hussain is that they were not the quality of leader Hussain was, although they were more successful.

Kotter talks about leadership from any place in the hierarchy, it would be interesting to go back in time and look at the role successful leaders played prior to them gaining the higher space in the hierarchy, and also how any leadership they showed was treated by their actual leaders and managers.

The question asks what is leadership without manage. It seems to me that management should be the mechanisms, which ensure delivery of the vision of the leader. In turn, the leader needs to share the vision, enthuse and inspire with the vision.

Therefore, I think leadership without management is a vision, a passion, a pathway, but with no means of delivering it – people may agree completely with it but without management (even self-management). The vision will remain unfulfilled as the actual changes required will never take place.





Another Day at Sea⤴


What on earth do you do all day when you are at sea?  You must get very bored.  Actually we love days at sea. It gives a chance to sit and read without being disturbed or distracted.  Sitting on the cabin balcony is so peaceful and quiet.  There are very few opportunities in life when we can be truly quiet.  This is one of the occasions and I have revelled in it.  For me to have read three books over about a week and a half is quite something.  
Of course there is also the time when one can just sit and watch the sea go by.  There  is so much of it and even a huge ship like Ventura seems very small in the vastness of the water.  To look around and see the line of the horizon with nothing breaking it in any direction is quite a sight.  I have tried to take a few photographs which express this sense of scale.  I don’t know whether I have managed it or not but I have enjoyed trying.  This one has a few clouds in the sky which was quite unusual for our trip.  You see others on my Flickr photo stream which have an empty sky as well as the empty sea.  
A holiday is meant to be a time apart for rest.  Days at sea can bring that rest.



I was sitting quietly on our balcony on Ventura heading up the side of Portugal towards the end of our cruise when the following  message appeared on the screen.  

“Software Update: IOS 7 is now available for your iPad”.  

I now wish to have a conversation with my device.  However, Siri is not much use as it requires an internet connection and we are twenty miles from the coast.  

The conversation goes something like this.

Me: Yes, I know it’s available. I would normally have updated on the day it became available.  You really don’t now me as well as I thought.

iPad:  Would you like to update to IOS 7 now?

Me: Yes please.  How do you propose we do that?

iPad: No network is available.

Me: Yes, I know.  We are a long way from the nearest wifi connection and if you think I am paying the charges P&O want me to pay then you have another thing coming.

iPad:  Checking for a software update failed as you are not connected to the Internet

Me: I know.  Can I go back to reading my book now?

iPad: silence

Me: silence

We will be back home on Sunday.  I am sure I can contain myself until then.