Monthly Archives: July 2015

Magic Moments #25 – Intel Teach Advanced Online: Outdoor Learning⤴

from @ OllieBray.com

OB Magic moments

Through my work with Intel Education I've had the chance to meet a lot of teachers from all over Europe (and beyond) and we really have worked on some good projects over the years.

About a year ago my morning commute for Intel was a little shorter than normal and it was a real privilege to invite a group of European Teachers to the Cairngorms National Park where I had a chance to deliver the Intel Teach: Advanced Online Course with a focus on Outdoor Learning. It has become the first of many 'Kingussie Conferences'.

Intel Outdoors1

Based from Aviemore, we welcomed teachers to Scotland from England, Sweden, Spain, Jordan, Bulgaria, Israel, Romania, Poland, Czech Republic, Turkey and Russia. We ran the theory sessions from the MacDonald Highland Resort and the practical sessions at the Highland Folk Museum, Cairngorm Mountain and at the Highland Wildlife Park. Lots of things were discussed over the three days of training including:

  • Using technology to prepare for outdoor learning opportunities;
  • Using technology during outdoor learning opportunities; and
  • Using technology to evaluate outdoor opportunities.

We talked GPS, Geocaching, Educaching, Mobile Apps, Digital Maps and lots of Google Earth. But most of all we talked a lot about teaching and learning and our common challenges with student engagement and school improvement across Europe. 

IntelOutdoors2

Short write up from one of the Russia participants here.

 

Scottish Government’s Website for Parents about ELCC⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

Reading stories

Have you seen the new website for parents and carers about the entitlement to ELCC?

Scottish Government is keen that parents and carers are reminded to take up a place for their child.

A public information campaign with advice for parents and carers on the eligibility criteria for funded early learning and childcare is currently running.

Check out the new website.

>SGsmarter_Pos_300

“You’ve just got to do it”⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

glowStephanie's Headshot

Stephanie Porteous, Depute Manager at Cherry Blossom Nursery in Dundee, talked to Lisa McCabe from the Children and Families Team about the impact on her since joining Glow Early Learn in January.

Lisa: How long have you been a member of Glow Early Learn and how did you find out about the community?

Stephanie: I have only recently become a member of Glow Early Learn. In fact it was at the beginning of the year, following a CPD event run by Dundee City Council, my local authority, and the Children and Families Team of Education Scotland.

I found the whole evening to be extremely informative. You were there, Lisa and so was Con Morris. It was really great having you explain and demonstrate how the Early Learn Glow Community can be used as a positive resource for educators across Scotland.

I particularly liked when the community was described as a place for people to share their practice and not be judged on their lack of knowledge on a certain aspect but to be encouraged to ask questions and connected with other professionals. I think that is a really important message to get ‘out there’.

Lisa: What is the best thing about being a member of the community?

Stephanie: For me I often find that just having another colleague agree with what you are providing and what you are doing. I find that encouraging. I think we all need that from time to time. It sort of reinforces what you know.

Being able to connect with other professionals and sharing ideas is a huge positive for me and the way that the Early Learn Community looks makes it feel like a social platform as well as professional one. It’s easy to navigate your way around and nice and simple to upload your resources. The resources section is being used really well by colleagues, which is a great.

I also think that it’s great to see the different approaches to ELCC from across Scotland. Since joining, I have felt extremely supported by everyone. The colleagues I have been networking with so far have been honest and open about their flaws as well as their strengths. I find this really refreshing. They have been very happy to share practice, ideas, resources and photos; and, that has encouraged me to do so too. As an educator, it has encouraged me to look closely at my own practice and in some cases has highlighted areas where I’ve thought ‘How do we do that?, How can we do that better?’.

Lisa: Since you joined, what connections have you made?

Stephanie: I have made a wonderful connection with Allie Rankin through the community. Ailie works in Inverclyde. We have found that we approach things in a similar way. Recently there has been a thread around ‘Sciences’ and I could see during the conversation that Allie and I shared the same challenges within this curriculum area. By the end of this thread both of us came out with a vastly improved knowledge and a fantastic resource that we are currently using, to help improve our practice.

Lisa: For those who don’t know, can you give us a flavour of what have you been discussing inside Glow Early Learn?

Stephanie: For me the main subject that inspired a lot of chat, comments and resources, was the use of ‘I Can’ statements. This really, for me, was the point where Glow Early Learn started having an impact on my setting. Everyone who joined the thread had an opinion on the proper and improper use of I can statements, and it was very obvious that these were being used in a huge variety of ways across different settings. Colleagues were happy to share resources, and the resources shared were nothing less than amazing. It really made clear to me the potential of Glow Early Learn and how it could support anyone from support workers to teachers in providing the highest quality ELCC across Scotland. It also shows that we all have the same challenges in common and that we all need a little support and encouragement from time to time.

Lisa: So, what have you learned by being a member of the community that you may not otherwise have learned?

Stephanie: I have realised that we are not all perfect and that everyday we face broadly similar challenges. I have also learned that there is a huge amount of fantastic resources out there to support the people who work in ELCC, and that people have a genuine love for their job and go, and want to go, the extra mile, daily.

Lisa: And what has been the most significant learning to date?

Stephanie: The support, advice and resources I received through the community with the development of the use of ‘I CAN’ statements across the setting has had an extremely positive impact on my setting. The entire team have felt the effects of the community as I have been able to provide staff training, staff development, etc. through my links with Early Learn community.

Lisa: You have gotten a great deal out of being a member of the community, Stephanie. What have you put in?

Stephanie: I do remember you saying at the evening we had in Dundee that we would ‘get out what we put in’. That is so true. You have to be active as a member. You have to be prepared to give of your opinion and to justify the reasons for your views. I try to be a supportive colleague by responding to questions. I shared our approach to planning and welcomed the feedback from others.

Lisa: Sometimes people worry about time, Stephanie. How do you manage your time on Glow Early Learn?

Stephanie: I would agree about ‘time’ for everything we need to do, not just glow. But by using glow and seeking advice, etc. from other professionals it has saved me time in the long run, I suppose.

So I suppose it’s all about managing your time and using your time for what benefits you and your setting the most. Glow is definitely a HUGE benefit/resource for me as an educator, very positive impact so far.

Lisa: What do you think is better about making connections with colleagues in this way?

Stephanie: I feel supported and more confident in myself as an educator and it’s interesting to see, as I have mentioned before that we all face the same challenges and we ALL need to feel supported

It’s also good to have a support system/community where we are not judged, we are supported and you can ask for advice, help and suggestions.

Also, feedback is quite immediate. You don’t have to wait very long at all for someone to offer up a ‘pearl of wisdom’.

Lisa: How has your practice improved / changed as a result of the being a member of the community, Stephanie?

Stephanie: I would say that I feel more confident in myself and more confident in asking for help/advice and sharing my challenges. It is so reassuring to know that we don’t have to keep reinventing the wheel. It is also good to be able to explain why you do things in the way you do. I think I have become even more of a reflective educator as a result.

Lisa: What would you say to encourage others to join the community?

Stephanie: The community has encouraged me to share, ask questions, answer questions, communicate, research, and further development myself professionally. Since using the community I feel more confident in myself and my abilities. I recruited my mum to the community as she too is an ELCC practitioner. You’ve just got to do it!

Lisa: Stephanie, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us about your experience as a Glow Early Learn member and ambassador.

Stephanie: It’s a pleasure. Thanks, Lisa.

Beta Startup, ISTE & EdChats: Opportunities and Challenges⤴

from @ Edu Tech Stories

I had planned on writing a few posts where I reflected on various aspects of being online, but this will have to wait. This is because of some interesting developments that have been going on as a result of some news about a technology company co-collaborating and co-creating with their users.

Since ISTE I have spent a lot of time pottering about on Declara, which is a startup I heard about prior to the launch of their beta version of thei site which promised to "Spark Social Learning." 

The founders outreach and description prior to launch saw me do something that I've never done before, I became an early users... complete with glitches and bugs. These issues have created some challenges and new opportunities.    

I've written a few posts about my experiences as an early user of Declara now and would like to stress that I am not affiliated with, nor have been compensated by Declara in any way.

My motivation here is based on the potential that I can see with this in education and re-visiting some older projects.

What's My Motivation
Through exploring the roll out of effective technology, I realise how difficult it can be to engage educators, and I have been exploring a few ideas around what the issues are and the reasons for this.
Part of my enthusiasm with this particular startup is because there are some older projects that I started, but had to shelf for various reasons. I feel this new platform could help with this, here are two examples;
1) I mentioned in yesterday's post how I have had patience with cuarting ISTE data, and my attempts at curating all the great links that get shared during periods of information overload like ISTE and during EdChats.

2) I had to completely abandon my 2014 New Year's Resolution... To work on a project that gets 100% roll out in UK Further Education Colleges, I think Declara could help with this project.

I am so confident that Declara can help with these goals that I'm putting a significant amount of time into testing some ideas to explore the possibilities. 


These things may be a long way off, will need a lot more time to develop... and may not pan out as expected. But one thing is for sure, if these projects have any chance at all they will require input from educators and other education stakeholders. Declara being in their beta phase would be a good time to provide some input, here's why...

Beta Tests
Some things that will eventually be automated are manual at the moment and take a bit of time.

For example, with the idea of curating conference and EdChat data, I curated 7,000 unique links from ISTE2015 (many of these will be duplicates due to the various link shorteners). I have manually imported over 800 articles into this collection.

When you click on the link it may only show 2 posts in this ISTE2015 Collection... but I can assure you there are 800+ articles on this link! It's just that the page is very slow to load.

This is the beta version so there will be minor glitches that need to be ironed out, as well as finding out how subscribers will be using the site. Then there is the question of what value is there for me, other users or for Declara to encourage a collection with anywhere from 2,000-7,000 articles? Honestly, I don't know.

However, I do get value from exploring these ideas. There were 200,000 Tweets from 20,000 delegates and lots of other people following from #NotAtISTE. 

I did not curate all ISTE related posts across all social media channels, but one thing that this has brought into sharp focus is that I can most definitely see how social media is an echo chamber. This has it's advantages when it comes to sharing best practice, but this also has it's flaws and limitations too. 

Having seen enough from manually importing lots of links, I hit the feedback button on Declara to ask if they will be able to upload the rest of the links en masse at their end. I assumed they would be able to do this.

I was informed that they can't at the moment, and that I'd need to continue to upload the links manually. I wanted to have a completed collection to get input from people to discuss how we might use the collection. 


As this ISTE2015 collection (And data from 2013) will now take longer than expected to upload the links, I started to do the same with EdCampLDR in the hope of seeing what people think of the idea and if new methods of collaborating can be found, or will it be duplication with existing tools? There are still 300 posts to sort through with this collection but it can be found on this link EdCampLdr Collection

A RSSponsive Startup!
When Declara replied to my feedback request I was told they were not able to automatically import these links, but the developers had added an RSS function which may help to automate collections like this in the future. They shared what they were doing with space and science topics so they have a STEM library. Check out some of the collections from


Declara Space Bot
Declara Physics Bot
Declara Nano Bot
Declara Biology Bot

As can be the case, startups is a messy business! For example, any challenges open up new opportunities... and then new challenges again. Lol. The joys of startupland!

Opportunity: Perhaps we can explore ways that links which are shared in EdChats could be curated into collections? Using tools like Queyfeed could be used to turn links from the chat into RSS feeds and import the links into Declara. The value of doing this this? It would only include any link that was used once AND could act as a back up for some resources with archives (More on the importance of this in a future post).

Challenge: The collections that have been curated via RSS feed have grown rapidly and may need some crowd sourcing to sort out which posts are suitable for certain subjects and age groups, as well as to highlight relevant insights.

All of my exploration as an early user has been in the hope that I will find ways of demonstrating enough value to potential to educators so they will join Declara and explore what is possible with this platform in the classroom.


For example, a real time news feed on science topics where an educator add their insights with other educators, students and scientists where they can message one another sure looks promising to me.

Effective EdTech
I have developed various ideas over the last few years because of my exploration of how effective EdTech gets developed like the importance of network effects, positive feedback loops, the life cycle of community and other community management issues. More than anything else

I know how important it is to co-create with potential users so projects achieve "Product Market Fit" 


This means that the product will be fit for purpose will get rolled out via word of mouth referrals... and I know
 how quickly educators can roll services out if they like it.

However, I also know how difficult it is to engage educators with early ideas. So I'll continue curating these collections and discuss my experiences as a user of this beta startup.

More to follow soon... I can't wait to tell you about some of the new connections I've made there, I think that educators will be especially interested to hear about Max.

How was it for you? (Your inspection, that is)⤴

from @ School Leadership - A Scottish Perspective

Well, the dust has settled, time has passed, the report is out and perhaps now is the time I am best able to look back and reflect on the inspection process I was involved with during the last term of the 2014-15 school session. We had returned following the Easter break, and I and a two teachers were heading off on the Tuesday for a residential with our P6s to Edinburgh, when I got the 'confidential' phone call as we waited for the bus. Not ideal, but I suspect the timings for such communication rarely are, if ever, ideal. So I had two days in Edinburgh with lots of excited P6s, trying to remain mindful and in the present, when all the time my mind was actually very much elsewhere. I received a text from school informing me on the Wednesday that 'The box has arrived. We have put it in your office and told no-one.' My DHT had recognised the contents straightaway and had been able to stop our administrator from taking it to the staffroom to ask 'Has anybody ordered something from Education Scotland?' Like everything, the breaking of the news to staff had to be managed and it could wait for my return.

In Scotland we are subject to inspection by Her Majesty's Inspectors for Education (HMIE) who were subsumed into Education Scotland when this replaced Learning and Teaching Scotland and the two organisations were rolled into one, though they still very much directed by the Scottish Government.The current pattern of inspections has tried to keep to a seven year cycle, so that a school would be inspected at least once during a child's passage through their school. They have struggled more and more to keep to this seven year cycle, but it was generally what was still in place up to the end of last session. We had last been inspected as a school in 2007, so we were expecting a visit pretty soon. We get two weeks notice of an impending inspection in primary and three weeks in secondary schools.

Once you have received 'the box', which contains paperwork and questionnaires for pupils, staff and parents, you then have a couple of weeks to issue these and get the required paperwork together, and some of it off to the HMIE team ahead of their visit. You also get notice of who your Managing Inspector (MI) will be and some details of the team they will bring. The MI also phones the headteacher a few days after the notice of inspection is received to go over some details, answer questions and generally try to put the headteacher at ease, whilst still recognising the stresses involved in the process. The inspection regime has changed a lot in Scotland over the years and attempts to be much more supportive and collaborative in tone and nature, and perhaps more of a professional dialogue around where the school is at, focused on the learning of the pupils. This was to be my fourth inspection, third as a headteacher, and I can see they have changed from my first experience which was very focused on policies and paperwork to the one we have now which is much more about the learners and learning. In my first inspection you still had the inspector who was sat at the back of the class, clipboard in hand, and giving little away, whereas now the inspectors are very much more hands-on and open in their approach. The process is still stressful for all staff and school leaders, but it is more humane now and recognising of those stresses. The tone is a lot more collaborative and it feels more like something that is done with you, rather than to you, as much as possible in such a scenario. 

So how did ours go and what were the lessons that might be applicable for others? I need to keep all this as general as possible of course to protect the confidentiality and integrity of all involved, but I think I can do this and still be able to share some big messages, as well as some of my own views. I understand that a lot of this may be particular to the Scottish system but I also think there may be messages and experiences that have resonance for other systems too.

On my return from Edinburgh I immediately called all staff together to inform them of the impending inspection. From the moment we received the notice, I saw my main role as keeping everyone calm and getting them to realise and recognise all the aspects of the school we are proud of and should look forward to sharing with our visitors. We had been preparing the ground ahead anyway by giving that same message for a number of years. Now we just needed to keep reminding everyone of this and to stop them from over thinking and trying to second guess the inspectors. I have always argued that if we are concentrating on the things that are really important, then inspections, reviews, audits and the like will take care of themselves. This was our opportunity to to see if this was true and to celebrate our development journey. We should look forward to telling the school's story.

The Managing Inspector contacted me by phone early the next week. From our first contact she was at pains to reassure me and all staff about the process and arrangements. She understood that staff would be stressed but she was looking to work in partnership with myself and the DHT to minimise this as much as feasibly possible. She went through some of the basic arrangements with me and answered one tor two questions I had regarding the week of the inspection. She left me to get on with completing arrangements and necessary paperwork and said she would be back in touch again ahead of the visit. I must say that from our first conversation over the phone the MI worked hard to allay concerns and to answer any questions. The MI is the key person in leading the inspection and so you need to build a relationship and an understanding with him or her. I have no doubt this is easier with some than others and you may have to work harder with some, but you have to find a way of working together otherwise the inspection will be flawed and weakened as a result. Not that the process is perfect in the first place!

And so it was that the inspection team arrived Monday lunchtime a couple of weeks later. In the meantime we had completed all the paperwork required, a lot of which we had been updating on an ongoing basis. The amount of required paperwork was not great and was fairly easy put together. Staff had made sure the school was looking as good as it could and we had met with all of them in groups and individually just to reassure them about what they were doing. We had a number of staff off work due to illness and I had already alerted the MI about this. We were fortunate that we had a few retired teachers who were willing to come into school during the inspection week to help us out. Which is another point about the inspection process. You need to accept and understand when situations and circumstances conspire against you so that you may not be able to showcase  the school as you wish. But that's the reality of day to day work in school and it is an opportunity for,you to demonstrate how you cope in such circumstances and the procedures you have in place to ensure learning continues. Any inspector worth listening to understands the issues that can present themselves on a daily basis for school leaders. Yes, it is frustrating when events conspire against you but you just need to learn to roll with it and not beat yourself up, or put more pressure on yourself or others, because of such events.

The first meeting is what is called the 'scoping meeting' where the headteacher and DHT, or other SMT if you desire, talk through the self evaluation pro-forma previously submitted, expand on the information given and answer questions from the team. This is an important meeting as it sets out where the school is on it's development journey, gives and understanding of the school ethos and culture and allows you to identify key areas that you would like the team to look at and which you feel provide evidence of the school's strengths. My explanation began with getting the team to understand how we were driven by our values and how we then started building everything from the learning experiences and understanding of our pupils. They generally listened and asked númerous questions as they sought to understand the school. We had identified the culture and ethos of the school, the impact of practitioner enquiry and where we were with the national 1+2 modern languages programme as areas for closer examination. We also laid out where we thought we were in terms of development and Curriculum for Excellence and how we used self-evaluation to identify where we were. Following this meeting, the team then met to discuss what they had heard and prepare for visits to classrooms beginning the following day. We had a lay inspector as part of the team and he began meetings with parents, pupils and community members on that first Monday afternoon.

The rest of the team arrived on Tuesday, we had a team of six, and they began their classroom visits on Tuesday morning and these continued up to Thursday lunchtime. Myself and the DHT had a number of meetings, usually two or more a day, with the MI and other team members as they challenged and probed about what they had seen, and about systems and structures we had in place. These were all important as the MI acknowledged the model they were seeing was not one they found in many schools they visited, and because we kept paperwork to a minimum, they wanted to understand clearly our approach and the thinking that lay behind this. This was great to hear because it showed they had no set curricula model or approach they were looking for, they were more concerned with impact for pupils and learners. I tend to believe, and said, that the HMIE and others, tend to start with systems and structures and then build the learning around these. I had already explained how we did this the other way around, and they were fine with this, and they went out of their way to understand our approach.

Anyway, we must have succeeded because at the end of the week the lead inspector acknowledged that everything we said about the school on the Monday and during our conversations, was what they had seen and heard over the week. They agreed with us, mostly, about where we said the school was and what our strengths were. They identified a couple of points for us to look at but acknowledged we were aware of these already and they expressed confidence in us to be able to continue to take these forward. I didn't agree with everything they had to say, but there wasn't much that I was prepared to get into too much dispute about.They would not be returning, which the inspectors will do within twelve months if they have concerns about a school, and we could get on with moving the school forward as we had planned. Result!

So what are main messages for school leaders from our experience?

a) Know your school well and have sound self evaluation practices
b) Be confident in your practice and your strengths
c) Be prepared to explain and defend your approach and your position
d) Engage with the team and the Managing Inspector, be pro-active in this
e) Do not try to second guess what the inspectors might look for or at
f) Work hard to keep staff calm and boost their confidence, you set the tone for this
g) Keep the main thing the main thing
h) Make sure the team see all the things you want them to see
i) Accept that everything is unlikely to be perfect
j) Keep speaking to all staff during the week
k) There will be ups and downs and it will be challenging
l) See the whole process as a positive one which will help you understand the school better
m) Be open and don't try to hide things, they are not stupid
n) Keep smiling

The whole week was a mix of highs and lows for all. It was certainly demanding and challenging for myself and all staff. But, if you recognise and respect the job the inspectors have to do and the agendas they are going to come in with, you are better able to deal with the whole experience. The inspection itself only lasts one week and it can help inform you as you seek a more holistic view of where your school is at. After it is over, the findings may help you as you write your next development plan and may help you with individual issues. If not, you continue to move on, as you would anyway.

As we approach a new school year in Scotland there will be a number of new models of inspection being piloted across the country as the HMIE and Education Scotland look to improve what they do and make it more appropriate and meaningful. This is one of our strengths in Scotland and perhaps why our whole inspection process is a lot more supportive and collaborative than those found in other countries. There is still an accountability element to what we do but there is also much more emphasis placed on professional dialogue, collaboration and self-evaluation to the betterment of the system as a whole, and the learners in it.



Journey Into the Arctic: a YouTube Interactive Mystery⤴

from @ OllieBray.com

Journey into the Arctic

A few years ago a did a presentation / thought piece at Creative Scotland's Media Literacy Conference on Multimodal Learning. At the end of my input I demonstrated (amongst other things) YouTubes capacity to be interactive and to link to other YouTube Videos during or at the end of a video. It was a fairly new feature at the time (back in 2011) and I suggested that it might be nice for schools to use the feature to create some interactive storytelling or multimodal mysteries. 

I still think there is a lot of potential for this but I was reminded of it recently when I saw Canadian Herritage's project titled 'Journey Into the Arctic'.

Journey Into the Arctic is an adventure (set in YouTube) in which you play an explorer on a mission to find the Northwest Passage. Just like a classic mystery book you have to make decisions at the end of each short video (chapter) on how the story unfolds and to help you reach your final goal.

Lots of potential with this - not just as an education resource in its own right but also as an inspiration to create your own YouTube multimodal mysteries stories.

Patience with Curating ISTE Data⤴

from @ Edu Tech Stories

There's been something of a trend since ISTE2013. It is that directly after ISTE each year I review the issue of curating all the great links that are shared during events that create so much information, that keeping up with all the great links is like trying to drink from a fire hose.

This post looks at the importance of being mission focused and sticking to a task, and the way that perceptions appear to change depending on the context... despite the task remaining the same. 

Patience
If I had to name my favorite post then Thomas Friedman's Collaborate Vs Collaborate would be up there. I'm curating links from ISTE2015 at the moment and if I had to name my second favorite post ever, it just might be Sherri Spelic's "There is No App for Patience

Sherri's advice is spot on! I have seen people jump right in with various education projects and policies: entrepreneurship education, academies and with various technology idea. The lack of due diligence and/or scaling too early has led to significant problems and/or adoption slowing to a crawl (All of which are things that I discussed in April 2013 via "Startup Education").

Finding posts like Sherri's is the reason I have spent so much time exploring all these links, and why I think curating the data is a useful exercise.

As well as this project, I find that I keep circling back to a number of ideas from a few years ago... and the context and reception from educators can be quite different each time I mention them. Obviously it's great when others see the value in your ideas, but I've continued to scratch my own itch even when others don't.

Social Tipping and Crowdfunding Educators at Conferences...
Wasn't well received when mentioned for ISTE2014. 
Scratch Your Own Itch
In his book ReWork, the creators of the popular Basecamp offers this advice:

"The easiest, most straightforward way to create a great product or service is to make something you want to use. That let's you design what you know - and you'll figure out immediately whether or not what you're making is any good."

"At 37 Signals, we build products that we need to run our own business... If you're solving someone else's problem, you're constantly stabbing in the dark. When you solve you're own problem, the lights come on. You know exactly what the right answer is" 

I had an itch in 2013 regarding all the great content that was going past the Twitter stream faster than anyone can read at ISTE and in EdChats. I favorited these tweets as a way of bookmarking for later, only to find that "later" didn't arrive until the link no longer worked.

Same Task Different Context 
I curated some data from ISTE13 and 150 EdChats over a 6 week period, I shared this data with people and was praised for taking the time to do this. The article I wrote that contains this data remains one of the top 10 most viewed posts I've written.

I was unable to develop some of my ideas for this because I could not find a platform that could store the data in any meaningful way, and excel wasn't ideal... so I shelved it until I found the right technology.

In 2014 I explored this again and explored a couple of platforms but, again, they were not ideal for what I was looking for. Post-ISTE2015 I'm trying again with these same ideas....I am looking to scratch my own itch with this data. 

This time I'm exploring my ideas using Declara. I am aware that I have been raving about this new platform a great deal recently, and wanted to remind people the reason for using Declara for this project is because I've had a bit of patience. Patience to;

1) Curate the data
2) Wait for the right platform.
3) Upload the links into a Declara Collection

Why mention all this? I am extremely interested in educator/supplier relationships. When I was curating some of the 2015 data I noticed the kind of negativity about "vendors" on social media that I have become accustomed to seeing.

While individual suppliers get a lot of love, if you do a search for #ISTE2015 and vendors on Twitter during the conference, many of the comments can be less than positive or flattering.

There are a number of reasons for me mentioning Declara quite a bit. For example, I know that educators can be challenging to reach and engage with, I know the best products are created in collaboration with users and I know that the way that suppliers engage educators need to change. I've spent a bit of time on the site and I like what I see, there are a lot of ideas educators could explore with this.

Anyway, as a result of noticing this vendor negative press,  I thought it might be an idea to remind people that I've been looking for ways to curate this data for two years now. I've explored a few ways of achieving this using free tools and "vendor" platforms. This is my 2015 attempt, and it's looking promising.

Will it work out? And if it does... what will happen once all the links from ISTE2013 and 2015 have been imported into Declara? Will I be able to find the time to import all the links? Will people want to view a collection with thousands of posts? The answer to all these questions is: I HAVE NO IDEA!

But what I do know is that doing things just because it is of interest to me and seems like a good idea leads to meeting some interesting people and can be the catalyst for new ideas to explore.

Curating these links into spreadsheets in 2013 seemed like a good idea at the time, so did waiting for the right platform before developing the ideas. By importing them into Declara I'm finding new people and new ways to achieve some old ideas that I had shelved a few years ago. So I'll continue to explore. Feel free to join me and a community of other knowledge seekers: www.Declara.com 

Alastair Humphreys: In Search Of Adventure [Video] @Al_Humphreys⤴

from @ OllieBray.com

Cartier/T Brand Studio | In Search Of Adventure from Spindle on Vimeo.

Lovely little video from  that explores the lure of adventure and what draws Alistair to seek out challenges in the world’s wildest places. It is beautifully shot in Iceland and includes some good drone footage as with some lovely narrative.

Certainly worth two minutes of your time.

Some more #openbadges thoughts⤴

from @ John's World Wide Wall Display

The previous post was an attempt to get the advanced Kanban open badge. This one follows up with an answer to the question posed in the P2PU Badges Project to my application and as wee thought about badge systems.

The feedback was questioning why I decided not to use the ‘Work in Progress’ system to limit the number of tasks in the doing section. I’ve already described the board I set up was to be used for Radio Edutalk. I’d had changed to do,doing and done for possible guests,shows and broadcasts.

I didn’t want to limit the doing(shows) section as that number will reflect the shows that are ready to go. A long list there is not a sign of doing too much but one of being prepared well in advance.

The feedback section in p2p is not that great. There is nowhere to enter answers to the question there. Hence this post and some blue sky thought. I wonder if a badge could send a trackback or something like it to a blog post, with feedback and /or a badge?

Maybe something trackback like (at least to my eyes) such as a Webmention (more:Webmention – IndieWebCamp).

So ideally (or in my imagination), the badge page has a URL. I write blog post in response giving evidence as to why I should get the badge. The badge pages gets pinged, creates my ‘project’ lets an approver/expert know. This person reviews the work and adds feedback to the project page and/or awards the badge. This action pings my blog post, adding the feedback/badge as a comment. Responding to the comment could answer feedback etc.

I am typing this pretty much from ignorance of the current badge scene perhaps this is already on some cards somewhere or already been rejected as a daft idea?

Thanks to Doug Belshaw who provide the opportunity to play with badges again.

Cycling in the Western Isles⤴

from @ OllieBray.com

  British Summer

Summer seems to have missed Scotland this year!

But, last week we managed to avoid the showers (well most of them...) and get away on a short cycle expedition to the Western Isles. The weather was pretty kind to us and we had a favourable tail wind for most of the journey which helped us haul the panniers up some of the steep hills.

Kincraig Loop (via Barra, Uist, Haris & Lewis!) - Summer 2015

We cycled from Kingussie to Ballachulish and then from Ballachulish to Oban where we got the ferry to Barra. From Barra we caught another ferry to Eriskay before cycling up though South Uist, Benbecula and North Uist. Another Ferry took us to Harris where we tool the 'Golden Road' along the west coast to Tarbert and up into Lewis. Harris was my favourite part of the cycle trip as the road was challenging with stunning scenery. We ended up in Stornoway where we caught the ferry back to Ullapool and cycled home. The whole trip took us six days door-to-door.

Louise made a nice map of our route using Google MyMaps.

I was impressed with the Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) Hopscotch Ferry Deal which was only £37.60 for all the ferries in the island chain. Bike also go free and everyone that we met seemed to be very cycle friendly.

Island Hopper Map

I wonder if the trip might make a good DofE Gold route?

The book Cycling in the Hebrides: Island Touring and Day Rides (Cicerone Guides) is worth getting if your thinking of heading out that way.