Tag: weeknote (page 1 of 16)

Weeknote 06/2018

This week I’ve been:

Next week I’ll be splitting my time between Mandurah and Perth in Australia, before flying home on Friday (and arriving Saturday).

Weeknote 04/2018

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out Issue #288 of my Thought Shrapnel newsletter. This one was called ‘Socially and emotionally unavailable’ and featured curated links from the Thought Shrapnel blog (where you can also sign up if you don’t yet subscribe!)
  • Making a snowman with my seven year-old daughter on the field near our house. It’s never really snowed enough in her lifetime to do so before!
  • Celebrating my son’s eleventh birthday. Time. Flies.
  • Continuing work on Project MoodleNet. This week, whiteboarding and system architecture (not quite ready to show the world yet), meetings, planning for a trip to Moodle HQ in Perth, Australia next month, starting a GDPR course, catching up with Learn Moodle Basics 3.4, and finishing off a series of posts on the project blog.
  • Recording, editing and releasing Episode 95 of the Today In Digital Education (TIDE) podcast with my co-host Dai Barnes. We entitled this episode ‘New Year, same old TIDE’ and discussed what we’ve been up to since the end of last year, family life, book recommendations, using smartphones wisely, GDPR, and more!
  • Renegotiating our mortgage and deciding on which car to go with next, as our current lease expires in March. After a 24-hour test drive of a Toyota C-HR, which is a very cool car, we’ve decided to go with the 2018 version of our current Toyota Auris Touring Sports, as it’s extremely practical for the kind of life my family leads.
  • Curating and scheduling Issue #25 of Badge News, a regular newsletter for the Open Badges community. It’s going to be hitting inboxes on the last Friday of the month from now on.
  • Looking after my family, who all managed to lose their voice due to some kind of cold this week.
  • Participating in the first Mozilla Open Leadership Map community call, led by Chad Sansing. It’s promising work, and I showed up to say hello to former colleagues and connect the work with other initiatives (both previous Mozilla ones and elsewhere).
  • Attending the Bett Show on Friday with Bryan Mathers, whose family also gave me a place to stay on Thursday night. It was good to see, amongst others, Sophie Bessemer, Graham Brown-Martin, Dawn Hallybone, Gavin Henrick, Paul Hutson, Tony Parkin, and Oliver Quinlan there.
  • Writing:

Next week I’m at home, working with Moodle from Monday to Thursday, and then planning with Bryan Mathers for upcoming work we’re doing on behalf of We Are Open Co-op with the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington D.C. next month.

Weeknote 02/2018

This week I’ve been:

Next week I’m at home from Monday to Wednesday, then I’m down meeting with my We Are Open Co-op colleagues in London on Thursday and Friday. The week after I’ll be at the Bett Show on the Friday.

Weeknote 51/2017

It feels weird to be writing a 51st weeknote of the year, as usually I’ve gone on ‘Belshaw Black Ops’, forsaking social media and blogging for the last month (or two) of the year. This time around, I haven’t felt that I’ve needed to, which I suppose is a good thing.

Anyway, this week I’ve been:

Next week it’s Christmas! I’m not working until Tuesday 2nd January, when I start my new four day a week role with Moodle. I’m still available for consultancy one day a week, most of which I’ll be doing through We Are Open Co-op.

Featured image of a 3D-printed Christmas decoration taken by me earlier this week!

Weeknote 50/2017

This week I’ve been:

Next week, I’m working four days (Monday-Thursday) from home on the MoodleNet white paper. It’s my birthday on Friday, so I’ll be eating mince pies, drinking whisky, and playing FIFA 18 instead of working.

Photo of Clayton Hotel, Ballsbridge (where I stayed in Dublin) taken by me on Thursday night.

Weeknote 49/2017

This was another one of those weeks that doesn’t make much sense to capture in bullet-point form, so instead I’ll go for paragraphs. Also, people seemed to like my roundup of the CoTech retreat last week that featured a lot of images, so I’ll do the same in this one.

Last Friday, I flew to Amsterdam with my wife. We’d planned the trip in the summer, deciding that this year we wouldn’t just talk about going somewhere in December, but actually book it. Initially, we thought about going to a Christmas market in a German, Czech, or Polish city, but after finding out about the Amsterdam Light Festival, decided to go there instead.

Amsterdam canal boats

We actually went to Amsterdam reasonably recently – three years ago, for a delayed celebration of our 10th wedding anniversary. As we’d did the ‘touristy’ things then, we were freed up to do other things this time around. That being said, we still did lots, which meant that I didn’t get any time to put together a newsletter.

Beer or Rain?

My wife and I stayed at the Doubletree by Hilton Amsterdam Centraal Station. It’s a great location, and a nice hotel. The room was quiet, the beds were comfortable, and the staff were very friendly. The breakfast buffet was one of the best I’ve seen – and as regular readers know, I’ve travelled to a fair few places in North America and Europe over the past few years. My only complaint would be the lack of attention by staff at breakfast, and the NOISE. I can’t stand having my eardrums attacked as I’m still getting used to a new day.

Amsterdam Festival of Light

The theme of the Festival of Light this year is ‘Existential’ which, as a Philosophy graduate, was right up my street. We took a guided canal boat trip which featured several artworks by artists from around the world. I loved the idea of the image of a lighthouse being projected onto the side of a museum, as being the inverse of its function. Also, the ‘black hole’, seemingly sucking you into one of the tunnels was great – as was the waveform that responded to the sound made by the boats underwater.

Shopping in the Jordaan district, Amsterdam

The rest of the time we wandered around the Jordaan district, and in particular the ‘nine streets’ famous for their quirky little shops. Thanks to Foursquare, we ate and drank at some great places, including Mata Hari, Back to Black, and Kessens. Even the restaurant at the hotel was enjoyable, which, I have to say, is unusual.

Amsterdam canal houses

In a spectacular example of serendipity, a few weeks ago Jeroen de Boer, Innovation Advisor at Bibliotheekservice Fryslân got in touch to ask if there was any chance I was free for a weekin December to work with his team. As a result, I moved a couple of things around meaning that, when my wife flew home on Sunday night, I headed to Leeuwarden in the north of the Netherlands to work with a group of librarians.


In Leeuwarden, I stayed at the Post Plaza hotel. It was converted a couple of years ago from the old Post Office and Bank, with the two connected via a glass walkway. It’s a beautiful hotel, and one with a rich history that was told to us by a tour guide who led us around the city on Thursday night.

Post Plaza, Leeuwarden

During the Second World War, the Post Office was occupied by German soldiers, who intended to blow it up as the Allies were close. They didn’t want the Allies to be able to use the building for communications, so placed 72 bombs in the basement. As some of the postal workers were part of the Resistance, they hatched a plan to replace all of the bombs with fake ones of the same weight, created by comrades who previously specialised in fake passports. When the time came, the Germans lit the fuse, and… nothing!

Bibliotheekservice Fryslan

Bibliotheekservice Fryslân is a provincial library service who have won awards for their innovative work. With perhaps the exception of the staff of London CLC, I’ve rarely worked with a team who are simultaneously so dedicated and friendly. I had a great week. We spent our time building a plan for them to start issuing Open Badges based on my work around digital literacies. It’s very humbling when you see your work being used in a language other than which you created it.

Kennissessie Digitale Geletterdheid

The week was kicked off by an event on Monday open to those across the province. Ilona Kish, Director of Public Libraries 2020, and EU-funded project, was a speaker at the event, as was I. Our presentations provoked discussion and a workshop in the afternoon for a smaller group, which I led.

Why does it matter? (Ilona Kish presentation)

On Tuesday, I had some time to myself, and then met with Jeroen and Marc Coenders, professor at the local university of Applied Sciences. We had a long and interesting discussion about the overlaps between our work.


Wednesday was a long day, with several of the Bibliotheekservice Fryslân, two ‘makers’ they work with, and me driving all the way to Middelburg in Zeeland for a ‘FabTable‘ event in their library’s makerspace. They also took the FryskLab, a mobile library turned into mobile FabLab! I presented on digital literacies and badges, then we headed home again, arriving back after midnight.

Doing the work with Post-it notes, Bibliotheekservice Fryslân

On Thursday and Friday we had some time to go into depth with staff at Bibliotheekservice Fryslân and other partner library services about digital literacies and Open Badges. I appreciated the trust that the group put in me, after I explained that coming up with a rigid agenda would suit nobody. Instead, I adapted what we did to their interests and energy levels, leading them through a range of activities.

Post-it notes, Bibliotheekservice Fryslân

By 15:00 on Friday, we’d covered all but two of the things that the group had said they wanted to achieve, and even they were in progress. Bibliotheekservice Fryslân has a plan around a sort of ‘manifesto’ for Digital Librarianship, together with some badges which designed for five personas we developed during our time together.

Personas created by Doing the work with Post-it notes, Bibliotheekservice Fryslân staff and illustrated by Edward Kobus

I felt very looked-after during my time in Leeuwarden, and look forward to potentially returning at some point in the future to help them with their project. It’s a beautiful city and, in fact, will be European Capital of Culture in 2018. If you’re reading this, then you should consider going to visit!

KLM flight home

I’m back home now, after getting a train from Leeuwarden to Schipol Airport via Zwolle, flying to Newcastle and then getting a taxi home. Travel, plus the intensity of this week’s work has meant that the only other thing of substance I’ve done is curate and send out Badge News #23, which is the last one of 2017. It features a round-up of the most clicked-on links of the year.

Next week, I’m working from home from Monday to Wednesday, then in Dublin on Thursday and Friday. Monday is all about meetings and writing, Tuesday and Wednesday I’m focusing on researching and writing the MoodleNet white paper, and then on Thursday and Friday I’m hanging out with Moodle colleagues Gavin Henrick, Mary Cooch, and Garnet Berry. That’s the last travel for me before Christmas!

Fabulous illustrations by Edward Kobus (used with permission). Disappointing photos solely my own responsibility.

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 48/2017

This week I’ve been:

Next week I’m staying in the Netherlands while my wife returns home. I’m heading to Leeuwarden to do some work with Bibliotheekservice Fryslân and Koninklijke Bibliotheek around digital literacies.

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 of Amsterdam Light Festival CC BY Danny Tax

Weeknote 47/2017

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out Thought Shrapnel, my weekly newsletter loosely structured around education, technology, and productivity. Issue #283 was entitled ‘Stop watching the news’. If you enjoy my newsletter, I reckon you’ll really like my Thought Shrapnel Live! where I share links (some which don’t make the cut for the newsletter) as soon as I come across them. Thought Shrapnel is made possible thanks to the awesome people who support support my work.
  • Recording and releasing Episode 93 (‘Camelizer Craftsman’) of the Today In Digital Education (TIDE) podcast, which I record with Dai Barnes. This week, we discussed reframing the traditionalist vs progressive debate in education, Pearson’s land grab on badges, personalised learning, computer science, the teacher as DJ, postcapitalism, Mozilla ending its web literacy work, and more!
  • Facilitating the latest Badge Wiki barn raising. I wrote up the meeting here, and we’re due to launch on December 1st, at the European Badge Summit!
  • Working for Moodle on the early stages of MoodleNet, a new project I’m leading for them. If you follow the above link, hopefully you’ll find a way to get involved in the white paper I’m writing. I could particularly do with assistance around definin the five scenarios that form a central piece of it!
  • Curating Badge News #22 on behalf of We Are Open Co-op. This is a newsletter that keeps the Open Badges community up-to-date around the latest news in the community.
  • Visiting the only mosque in Northumberland with my son’s Scout troop. It was really interesting the way that the Imam re-framed the media narrative for these young people who, given the monoculture up here, have possibly only ever seen a Muslim on TV.
  • Buying things on ‘Black Friday’. Like everyone else. I was quite pleased that I managed to get the discount on FIFA 18 I’d been waiting for, along with a few Christmas presents.
  • Writing:

Next week I’m joining my co-op colleagues at a retreat being held at Wortley Hall by the CoTech network. I’m there from Monday night to Thursday morning. I’ll then being working on MoodleNet on Thursday and Friday, before flying to Amsterdam with my wife for a weekend of Christmas markets and the famous light festival. She flies back on Sunday, while I’ll be staying behind to do some work with the  National Library of the Netherlands.

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

Image CC BY Michael Thomas

Weeknote 46/2017

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out Thought Shrapnel, my weekly newsletter loosely structured around education, technology, and productivity. Issue #282 was entitled ‘Water so clear you can see to the bottom’. If you like that, you’ll love my Thought Shrapnel Live! channel on Telegram that features all the links in the newsletter and more. Thought Shrapnel is made possible thanks to my valued supporters.
  • Recording and releasing Episode 92 (‘The edge of algorithm’) of the Today In Digital Education (TIDE) podcast, which I record with Dai Barnes. This week, we discussed Moodle, digital literacies, algorithmic ad-fuelled dystopias, whether the Amish have the right approach to new technologies, habit fields, and more!
  • Replacing OxygenOS on my OnePlus 5 smartphone with the fully open source LineageOS. I’d meant to do this as soon as I bought it, but there wasn’t an official build of LineageOS until a couple of months later, by which time I’d become accustomed to the slickness of OxygenOS. However, recent news of OnePlus devices phoning home and then revelations of a backdoor prompted me into action.
  • Getting started properly on leading work on MoodleNet for Moodle. I’m pretty excited about it, and will be writing a white paper over the next few weeks. I particularly enjoyed researching stuff around crypto-decentralisation on Thursday!
  • Rolling my eyes at Pearson’s attempts to patent digital credentials. I need to write an angry blog post. They’re quite possibly the world’s worst education company. I don’t know why anyone does business with them, to be quite honest. Although, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised as they’ve got form.
  • Drafting a post for DML Central about some work I discovered at the Miami MoodleMoot which might (finally!) help us get beyond the progressive vs. traditionalist debate in education. You can view the draft here. Comments welcome.
  • Writing:
    • (nothing other than the DML Central draft)

Next week I’m again at home all week. On Monday I’ll be doing We Are Open co-op work and starting to plan for a week’s worth of consultancy in December for the National Library of the Netherlands. From Tuesday to Thursday I’m working for Moodle. I’m taking Friday off as a Doug day.

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 taken by me during a walk with my (recuperating) wife around Morpeth on Friday.

Weeknote 45/2017

I’ll return to the regular bullet-point format next week, but this week has been another unusual one. It’s revolved around two events: a MoodleMoot in Miami, USA and the Innovate Edtech Conference in London. I was in Miami from Sunday until Thursday, then London from Friday evening for 24 hours.

I’m pleased to announce that I’m working with Moodle until the end of this calendar year, in the first instance, scoping out a new platform which is currently known as MoodleNet. This is a brand new product, distinct from the LMS, and something I’m pretty excited about. If all goes well, I’ll continue doing a bit of consultancy through We Are Open Co-op, but dedicate the majority of my time towards MoodleNet. Much more on that soon, I hope, as I put together a white paper.

I learned a lot in Miami, from the great people I’ll be working with at Moodle, to the advantages of taking Melatonin to stave off jet lag. It great to finally meet Mary Cooch after a decade of us following each other online! There was also a great presentation by Elizabeth Dalton that I need to revisit as I think it will help us get past the reductive and unhelpful ‘traditional vs. progressive’ debate in education.

Although it’s always great to be in a room full of people you know, growth comes when you’re in a rooms filled with people you don’t know, and that was certainly the case in the two events I attended this week. The Innovate Edtech Conference was a good opportunity to re-connect with wonderful people such as Joe Dale, Sophie Bailey, and Geoff Stead — but the majority of poeple weren’t part of my existing network.

I was humbled to learn that students had come from various universities around the country to hear me speak, on the recommendation of their supervisors. It was my usual stuff about digital literacies and Open Badges (see slides) but I tried to package it in a way that was useful. We started with a short exercise that surfaced and problematised some of our everyday practises. From there, I went on to introduce the eight essential elements of digital literacies, and then explained how they can be credentialed using badges.

Over and above those two events (I ran a 2.5 hour workshop at the MoodleMoot as well), I’ve only really sent out Badge News #21 on behalf of We Are Open Co-op. On the personal front, since deciding three weeks ago to experiment with not eating meat, I’ve managed to persist with what is, essentially, pescetarianism — although I’m not a fan of being pigeonholed.

Next week I was supposed to be in Washington DC, doing some work with Bryan Mathers, on behalf of our co-op, for the Inter-American Development Bank. However, that’s been pushed back to February 2018, meaning that I can catch up on some pending work for other clients, and get started writing that MoodleNet white paper!

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 taken by me in Hackney Wick, London, which is a place going through some intense gentrification at the moment. There was some great grafitti and flyposters around the place.