Open Thinkering


What I got up do during #BelshawBlackOps11 (and what 2012 has in store)

Life never quite works out how you planned, does it?

Shuffling cards

The things I anticipated doing during my break from social networks and personal email during December and what I actually did were quite different. Here’s what I got up to:

  • Prepared for my viva voce (thesis defense)
  • Got my thesis rewrites done
  • Played almost no Battlefield 3 (but a whole lot of Football Manager 2012 Handheld)
  • Spent a lot more time with my children
  • Started tracking the food I eat
  • Took the time to read about the best ways to use Evernote (and started using it ‘properly’)
  • Completed the mammoth semi-annual Christmas pilgrimage to my in-laws in Devon
  • Read more physical (as opposed to Kindle) books
  • Started using Path with close friends and family
  • Compiled Best of Belshaw 2011
  • Redesigned this blog (as well as the Purpos/ed website and Doug’s Ideas Garden)
  • Set up
  • Watched more films in one month than I did in the preceding eleven
  • Re-assessed my direction in life
  • Started using a SAD light (early birthday present)
  • Chilled out a whole lot more than I usually do (Migraine count: 1)

What I really missed social network-wise wasn’t the constant stream of news but the positive reinforcement and support I get. This was shown by the number of messages of congraultations I received both in the comments of my last blog post and on Twitter.

Of course, the question I now get asked is: Now you’ve finished your doctorate, what’s next?

Well, I answer, I’ve got some exciting stuff coming up – I’m running a workshop with Prof. Keri Facer at Learning Without Frontiers at the end of January, and then March is a busy month, with me heading to San Francisco for the DML Conference, speaking at TEDx Warwick, and keynoting a conference for the first time (see my Lanyrd profile for details).

At work I’ll be supporting the JISC Developing Digital Literacies programme, updating the Mobile Learning infoKit and continuing to champion stuff around open education.

Other than that and a couple of other bits and pieces, I’m open to offers. I’ve been asked to submit a book proposal and things are ticking along nicely with Synechism Ltd. (on a part-time basis). Whilst I’m very much enjoying things at the moment, my focus is on doing interesting stuff that aligns with my values (openness, freedom, authenticity) and that allows me to spend as much time as I can with my family.

We’ll see where that takes me.

Image CC BY-SA Todd Klassy

11 thoughts on “What I got up do during #BelshawBlackOps11 (and what 2012 has in store)

  1. Interesting to hear what you got up to, glad you found it a valuable time. I have been meaning to ask you, have you ever written up the process as to how you put together the Best of Belshaw books from your blog? I have been looking to do something similar and cannot find a straightforward workflow, would you be willing to share yours?

    1. Hi Oliver,

      Before Google bought PostRank I installed their WordPress plugin ( This allows me, as I did with my previous theme, to display in the sidebar ‘top posts’ by engagement (comments, social media interactions, views). Within the dashboard it also shows the PostRank, which is a number out of 10, next to each post.

      All I did, therefore, was to narrow down posts by year and category and choose those that had the highest PostRank. I also stuck a couple in there that I thought were good but didn’t get the love they deserved. πŸ˜‰

      Hope that helps!

      1. Thanks Doug, that is interesting. I was also wondering how you went about getting the posts out of wordpress and setting up as a book? Was it case of copying and pasting?

        1. Here’s what I did:

          1. Downloaded the appropriate template from
          2. Created the appropriate styles in Word (title, body, footnote, etc.) 3. Copied and pasted text from blog
          4. Turned hyperlinks into footnotes (manually) and removed any wording that would have seemed odd in book form
          5. Created table of contents (automatically)
          6. Added ‘About’ and ‘Introduction’
          7. Converted to PDF
          8. Uploaded to Lulu
          9. Created cover
          10. Filled in metadata and hit ‘Publish’

          1. Thanks Doug, that is really helpful! I will have a go, I think I was generally trying to be too over complicate it and not making use of the templates.

  2. Thanks for link to another brilliant Sir Ken talk (not sure I totally agree, but at least he is out there). Learning without Frontiers seems a good way of progressing the TED philosophy as the latter seems to me to be looking a bit tired these days – maybe I do it a dis-service though

  3. Congratualtions on finishing your doctorate, and on your time off the grid!
    I have been finished my thesis for a year now, and the idea that I might need to reassess my direction in life is only just catching up with me to be honest.Β  Isn’t the idea that your direction is pretty much set once you ar a Doctor?Β  Turns out the answer is ‘no’.

    Looking forward to seeing where this next phase takes you πŸ™‚Β 

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