Open Thinkering


Weeknote 11/2020

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Never has this quotation been more apt:

“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

Wow, what a week! My wife and I returned from Belgium on Sunday night, thinking everyone was being more than a bit over-cautious. By today, the next Saturday, we’re effectively tinfoil hat preppers.

Shortages in local supermarkets, handwashing drills, a new freezer in our outhouse, stockpile lists, and we’re seriously considering keeping the kids off school. I’m running outside instead of going to the gym.

I can’t even really remember what I’ve done this week apart from read the news and think about the impact of the pandemic on society. I’m not particularly anxious, it’s more that my brain goes into overdrive thinking about the “what if?” scenarios.

Apart from a couple of presentations on MoodleNet using the slide deck I posted here, I’ve mainly been sorting out GitLab issues and making sure the team is alright. We’re a fully-remote team based in Europe, with two in Italy, two in the Netherlands, and then one in France, Czechia, and Greece.

My co-op colleagues seem to all be alright, but of course any in-person work we were planning to do is a bit up-in-the-air at the moment. Who knows when all this will end?

I cancelled a trip to go walking in the Peak District with a friend this weekend, next week’s FutureFest has been postponed, and likewise next month’s MoodleMoot UK & Ireland. If things return to whatever the new version of ‘normal’ looks like, there are going to be a lot of events in the second half of the year.

One good thing that’s coming out of all of this is that people are being forced to figure out how to do things online. Virtual events, online learning, remote work are all things that should be commonplace in 2020. And in some sectors, and in some organisations, they absolutely are. But in others, all this is brand new.

I’ve worked from home for the last eight years now, with a dedicated home office that’s separate to our house. It contains all of the kit I need, and I’ve got a super-fast mesh network which makes our home wifi fast and stable. It’s easy to take all of this, plus the experience I’ve gained over the years for granted.

The great thing about remote work is that you have to measure results by outcomes, not how hard it looks like people are working. You have to have trust, and processes, and be able to convey human qualities like empathy at a distance.

I wrote something for the We Are Open blog about remote working for leaders and managers. Our co-op is definitely standing by for any organisations that need help in this regard.

It’s now a decade since I was responsible for technology at a large educational organisation. On Twitter, which I can’t seem to turn off at the moment, I thought out loud what I’d do if I had to pivot to online learning from a base of no current capacity.

As I auto-delete my tweets every 30 days, I used Thread Reader to ‘unroll’ my thread. Check it out here.

All of this has made me think that the best technologies are the open, mature, and tested ones. Which is why I wrote an ode to email, explaining why it’s the original robust, decentralised technology. I also reflected on sharing educational resources via bittorrent.

Next week, then, I’ll be at home. Perhaps with all of the rest of my immediate family. We’ll see.

Image by Volodymyr Hryshchenko

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