I’m writing this on the train from Hasselt to Bruges in Belgium, travelling with my wife after speaking at the Open Belgium conference yesterday. My presentation on behalf of the co-op was on Open initiatives need open organizations. It’s Open Education week, so on Wednesday I presented on MoodleNet as part of an EDEN Webinar on open technologies.

We weren’t entirely sure whether our trip to Belgium would go ahead, what with all of the media coverage of the coronavirus. However, the scaremongering online and in newspapers bears no comparison to the reality on the ground when flying and visiting other countries. It’s all very well being cautious, but I don’t want to put my life on hold on the small chance that I’ll be infected. I can however, see the secret delight on my wife’s face when she (a closet germophobe) gets to disinfect all of the surfaces on trains, planes, etc. without me rolling my eyes.


A follow-up visit to the optician’s this week confirmed that the blepharitis that was affecting my right eye has pretty much gone. That means I’m back to wearing contact lenses, apart from on days that I get migraines.

For some reason I’ve had three migraines this week, which may or may not be connected to me giving up refined sugar and alcohol for Lent. I’m testing out that theory by suspending my commitment while travelling — meaning I can eat all of the waffles and chocolates, and quaff all of the Belgian beer I want. But for this weekend only, of course. I did lose almost half a stone this week, so I’m fully expecting to put all of that back on…


I wrote an article for Thought Shrapnel for the first time in three weeks, which kind of tumbled out of me. They’re the ones I enjoy writing the most: I’m struck by an idea, then I sit down to write and it all comes out in one go, with minimal editing. This one was (literally) full of questions.

Other times, it takes forever to write an article; I’ll have several ‘stubs’ on the go, and sometimes they turn into something and sometimes they don’t. Writing is a pretty mysterious process to me. People often ask me for advice, but I’m not sure I’ve got much other than ensuring you’re (a) reading a lot, and (b) writing a lot. In my experience, the more you read, the more you end up writing.

In addition to this week’s article, I provided the usual link roundup. This week it included everything from digital credentials through to survival, with a bit of panpsychism thrown in for good measure.


Given all of the coronavirus stuff, the reductions in overall travel, and the increase in the number of people working at least part of the time from home, I should probably write something about remote work.

Unrelated to the outbreak, my Moodle colleagues in Perth, Australia, had almost a month’s gap between moving out of their previous office and moving into the new one. As a result, they had a taste of what it’s like for us fully-remote workers. Holly, who leads the People & Culture team, wrote up their findings, with which I’d certainly concur.

Changes happen first slowly, and then quickly. That’s why, when I was a History teacher, I ensured students understood the long-term causes of events, and not just their short-term trigger. Remote work and home working is a long-term trend over the last decade (at least), and I think that the short-term trigger of events like the coronavirus will only serve to accelerate it.


Next week, I’ve got a couple of presentations to Moodle Partners and the Moodle User Association. They’re keen to see the progress we’ve made on MoodleNet. Other than that, I’ve got some onboarding to the work that We Are Open is doing with Greenpeace, and the usual chivvying, cajoling, and smiling-while-prodding-people that constitutes much of my working life these days.


Header image: street art in Hasselt, Belgium