Page 3 of 192

How to write a blog post

Last month, one of my clients got in touch to ask if I could send them some guidance around writing blog posts. They asked me to include the usual things such as:

  • Structuring a post
  • Making things clear for the reader
  • How to grammar/spell check

They asked me to put together something, which effectively is a couple of sides of A4 paper, for the start of the school term for a team they’ll be working with this academic year.

One of the reasons for my delay in getting started (other than the busiest summer, work-wise that I’ve ever had!) is that, rattling around at the back of my mind, is a series  on how to write blog posts. While it’s important to cover the bullet points above, I think there’s things to say about in situating blog posts within a wider discourse.

Here’s what I’ve written so far:

  1. Sitting down to write a blog post
  2. Putting your blog post into the world
  3. Deciding what to write about in your blog post
  4. Tools to help you with your blog post

I hope it will be of use.


Photo by WOCinTech Chat used under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

Weeknote 34/2017

This week I’ve been:

Next week I’m at home all week, as we’ve turned the planned in-person We Are Open Co-op meetup into another virtual session to be held on Friday. It’s August Bank Holiday on Monday so I’m trying my best not to work that day, and I’ll be doing my three days for Totara on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I’ve got other client work to get done in the evenings so busy Doug is busy…


I make my living helping people and organisations become more productive in their use of technology.  If you’ve got something that you think I might be able to help with, please do get in touch! Email: hello@nulldynamicskillset.com


Photo by Austin Neill on Unsplash — not sure why, but this photo really resonated with me.

Weeknote 33/2017

This week I’ve been:

Next week I’m at home all week. I’m trying not to work on Monday morning, spending time with my family on Monday afternoon, and then working Tuesday-Friday for Totara Learning.


I make my living helping people and organisations become more productive in their use of technology.  If you’ve got something that you think I might be able to help with, please do get in touch! Email: hello@nulldynamicskillset.com

Weeknote 32/2017

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out Thought Shrapnel, my weekly newsletter loosely structured around education, technology, and productivity. Issue #270 was entitled ‘Holiday’ and this week included only links without commentary given I had deadlines and had to pack to go…
  • On holiday in Devon. It was great, as we stayed in a wooden house built by friends of my wife’s parents, and went as screen-free as possible for a week. We saw the Red Arrows, and hung out with my brother and sister-in-law, and their children, a fair bit. The only thing that could have been improved was the weather at the start of the week…
  • Reading dead-tree books. I finished Bird by Bird: some instructions on writing and life by Anne Lamont, which was excellent and I’ll be re-reading. I can see why so many people recommended it. I also finished Homo Deus: a brief history of tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari. He’s an historian, so I really enjoyed his previous book, Sapiens: a brief history of mankind, and the first half of this one. However, I think he drank a bit too much Silicon Valley kool-aid before writing the second half of it. I’m half-way through Happy: why more or less everything is absolutely fine by Derren Brown (yes, that one!) He shares a short history of philosophy and some anecdotes, before launching into an overview of Stoicism. The philosophy isn’t anything new to me, but he packages it in an engaging way.
  • Running. Which is probably a good job given how much I’ve been eating and drinking this week. I really enjoyed going out for a short run with our 10 year-old now he’s old enough to keep up!

Next week I’m in Birmingham from Monday to Wednesday to do some work on behalf of Freeformers at the Google Digital Garage. Then I’m in Brighton on Thursday and Friday working with Totara.


I make my living helping people and organisations become more productive in their use of technology.  If you’ve got something that you think I might be able to help with, please do get in touch! Email: hello@nulldynamicskillset.com

Weeknote 31/2017

This week I’ve been:

Next week I’m on holiday in Devon and I’m not taking anything that has a screen on it. The week after, I’m in Birmingham from Monday to Wednesday co-running ‘train the trainer’ sessions with Freeformers, then in Brighton working with Totara on Thursday and Friday.


I make my living helping people and organisations become more productive in their use of technology.  If you’ve got something that you think I might be able to help with, please do get in touch! Email: hello@nulldynamicskillset.com


Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash

Weeknote 30/2017

This week I’ve been:

Next week, I’m trying to finish all the things before we travel down to Devon for a week’s holiday. There’s plenty of stuff to get done — so much, in fact, that I’ll be working this weekend as well. Again, I’m not complaining, but I wouldn’t have predicted that this would be my busiest few weeks of the year!


I make my living helping people and organisations become more productive in their use of technology.  If you’ve got something that you think I might be able to help with, please do get in touch! Email: hello@nulldynamicskillset.com

My blog was without an ‘LMS isn’t dead’ post, so I thought I’d write one.

Back in November 2007, Martin Weller, a Professor at the Open University wrote that, in his opinion, the VLE/LMS is dead – “but we’ll probably take five years to realise it”. It’s been almost a decade since his post, and there has been plenty more written about the LMS. In fact, Google returns almost 20,000 results for the search term “LMS is dead”, and just recently Jim Groom wrote a widely-shared and commented-upon post about it.

Yet, it seems, the truth is that the LMS is not going away anytime soon. Why is that? Why have the alternative solutions mentioned in Martin’s post withered and died while the LMS lives on? Why would anyone in 2017 use an LMS? Curiously, the answers are right there in the post from 10 years ago:

  • Authentication
  • Convenience
  • Support
  • Reliability
  • Monitoring

Meanwhile, the reasons Martin gives in that post for moving away from an LMS have largely been negated by developments over the last ten years. Here’s his original list of the benefits of using a ‘small pieces, loosely joined’ approach instead of an LMS:

  • Better quality tools
  • Modern look and feel
  • Appropriate tools
  • Cost
  • Avoids software sedimentation
  • Disintermediation happens

Back when he wrote this post, I would have agreed with all of Martin’s points, envisioning a future filled with users merrily skipping between platforms into the sunset. I’ve learned a lot since then, and it’s pretty clear that a ‘small pieces, loosely joined’ is unlikely to ever happen. The LMS market is growing, not shrinking.

My reason for thinking about all this is because I’ve just started doing some work with Totara, an organisation I first came across back in 2012 when they built the Open Badges functionality for Moodle. Since then, while their code remains open source, they’ve ‘forked’ from the Moodle codebase. They’ve also got Totara Social, an ‘enterprise social network’ platform.

Interestingly, Totara are in the process of removing ‘LMS’ from their branding. That doesn’t mean that the concept of the learning management system is dead. No. What’s happening here is that the term ‘LMS’ has become a ‘dead metaphor’. It no longer does any useful work.

To quote myself, elsewhere:

The problem is that people will, either purposely or naïvely, use human-invented terms in ‘incorrect’ ways. This can lead to exciting new avenues, but it also spells the eventual death of the original term as it loses all explanatory power. A dead metaphor, as Richard Rorty says, is only good as the ‘coral reef’ on which to build other terms.

A learning management system, in essence, is a digital space to support learning. It doesn’t particularly matter what you call it so long as it:

  1. Has the functionality you require
  2. Costs what you can afford
  3. Is reliable

The reason I’ve accepted this piece of work with Totara is because they tick all of my boxes around their approach to this space. They’re innovative. They’re open source. They’ve got a sustainable business model. I’m looking forward to helping them with developing a workable vision and strategy around their community that fits with their pretty unique partner network approach.

As regular readers will be aware, and as betrayed by the introduction to this post, my background is in formal and informal learning. The Learning & Development (L&D) space is relatively new to me, so if you’ve got tips on people to follow, places to hang out, and things to read, please do let me know!


Photo by Jon Sullivan used under a Creative Commons BY-NC licence.

Join us tomorrow for the first Badge Wiki barn raising session!

The Open Badges community has been crying out for a while now for a knowledge repository. You know, somewhere where people can go and find out about how other similar organisations have implemented badge systems, read interesting academic articles and whitepapers, and just discover what’s possible with the Open Badges specification.

That’s why I’m delighted that We Are Open Co-op, with the support of Participate, are building out Badge Wiki.  This will be a community-powered project, meaning that it will only be as good as people make it. We’re providing the technical infrastructure and opportunities to pitch in, but we need people to write content, curate resources, and suggest updates!

Tomorrow is the first Badge Wiki ‘barn raising’ session, which we’re running in conjunction with the Open Recognition Alliance. Those who come along don’t need any previous experience with wikis. Nor do they need much knowledge about badges. All you need is a willingness to roll up your sleeves and get involved.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Join the Loomio group
  2. Register for a Badge Wiki account
  3. Join the barn raising session at 16:00 UTC tomorrow (Wednesday 26th July 2017)

Questions? Great! We’ve got answers. If it’s “will participants be issued badges?” the answer is “YES!”. Other questions below, please.


‘Barn Raiser’ badge image courtesy of Bryan Mathers used under a Creative Commons BY-ND license 

Weeknote 29/2017

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out Thought Shrapnel, my weekly newsletter loosely structured around education, technology, and productivity. Issue #267 was entitled ‘Wimbledon(e)’. Don’t forget you can sign up to Thought Shrapnel Live! using Telegram to receive links as I come across them. You can also become a valued supporter.
  • Catching up with John Igoe from AstraZeneca and TJ Scholl from Participate in video conference meetings, and Craig Taylor from HT2 over beers.
  • Confirming my keynote at the ALL DIGITAL Summit in Barcelona (4th-5th October).  I’ll doing a TED-style talk on the infrastructure, skills and mindsets we’ll need to ensure that everyone is included in the digital society of the future. I’ll also be running a workshop.
  • Working with Sarah Horrocks from London CLC on a report on technology-enhanced teacher professional development we’re writing for the Education Development Trust.
  • Attending my daughter’s first ‘proper’ school sports day. She’s six, and beat all the boys in the running race. Second in the potato-and-spoon and skipping races, though, so a hard year’s training ahead…
  • Developing a scheme of work, session plans, and resources on behalf of Freeformers for a large tech company.
  • Putting things in place for the Badge Wiki barn raising next week. Details can be found here.
  • Spending three days in Brighton starting some work for Totara. I stayed at My Brighton and it was great to spend time with Lars Hyland and the team. I’ll be helping them over the next few months, mainly based from home as it’s 5.5 hours each way on the train from Northumberland to Brighton…
  • Reading Ryan Holiday’s fantastic new book, Perennial Seller: the art of making and marketing work that lasts. As with all of his books, it’s about a lot more than just creating content.
  • Sending out Issue #14 of Badge News, a regular newsletter for the Open Badges community. This one features a summer survey for subscribers.
  • Writing:

Next week I’m working from home for Freeformers on Monday/Tuesday, and then for Totara from Wednesday to Friday. I also need to fit in work for other people, so it looks like I’ll be working evenings, too — just as everyone else in my family winds down for the summer!


I make my living helping people and organisations become more productive in their use of technology.  If you’ve got something that you think I might be able to help with, please do get in touch! Email: hello@nulldynamicskillset.com

Weeknote 28/2017

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out Thought Shrapnel, my weekly newsletter loosely structured around education, technology, and productivity. Issue #266 was entitled ‘Is it a sign?’. Don’t forget you can sign up to Thought Shrapnel Live! using Telegram to receive links as I come across them. You can also become a valued supporter.
  • Joining Costco as a business member, which makes me feel all grown-up. Our kids had a field day, and I took that great photo of the tins of spam. The one that was turned around the other way to the others made me smile.
  • Running a half-day thinkathon for London CLC  around their strategy, branding, and marketing. Bryan Mathers was in the room with them, and I was on the other end of appear.in.
  • Travelling to and from London on the train for a meeting with Freeformers and the client (a large tech company) that we’re doing work for. It’s an introduction to coding project.
  • Ordering and receiving a OnePlus 5 which, so far, is fantastic. The portrait mode using the dual camera is superb.
  • Working on the resources for the above, which is proving very enjoyable as it’s been a while since I wrote a scheme of work! This has taken up most of my week, and will continue to take up a fair chunk of time until the end of July.
  • Confirming that I can keynote the Innovate EdTech Conference on 11th November in London. Early bird tickets are now on sale! This year’s theme is ‘The Age of Learner Experience’.
  • Drafting an article for Hello World magazine on Open Badges at the request of Miles Berry, and answers to questions about badges for Lars Hyland from Totara (who I’ll be doing some work for over the summer). Thanks to Eylan Ezekiel, Gavin Henrick, and Tony Sheppard for helpful comments and suggestions on the magazine article.
  • Catching up with my We Are Open Co-op colleagues after we’ve off being doing different things over the last few weeks, in a couple of cases on the other side of the world! We discussed putting in session proposals for Re:publica in Dublin in early September, and the Mozilla Festival in London in late October (although I’ll be away on holiday during MozFest).
  • Meeting with Jeff Bohrer from IMS Global about the work we’re doing around Badge Wiki. I’ve also invited many members of the badges community to join a Loomio group in preparation for a barn raising session we’re holding on July 26th.
  • Selling some technology on eBay. I’m now completely Apple-free!
  • Working with Sarah Horrocks from London CLC on a report on technology-enhanced teacher professional development we’re writing for the Education Development Trust.
  • Attending my children’s seemingly-endless end of term activities. This week it was summer fairs.
  • Going away my wife away for the night after packing the children off to my parents. We went to Jesterval in Newcastle, which was bizarre and awesome, enjoyed a meal at Fat Buddha, and stayed over at Hotel Du Vin.
  • Writing:

Next week I’m working from home on Monday and Tuesday, and then in Brighton from Wednesday to Friday, kicking off work with Totara.


I make my living helping people and organisations become more productive in their use of technology.  If you’ve got something that you think I might be able to help with, please do get in touch! Email: hello@nulldynamicskillset.com

css.php