Open Thinkering


Month: October 2021

Weeknote 43/2021

The bottom of an interesting bit of the blue mountain bike trail in the Forest of Ae

We’ve been on holiday this week, spending a few nights away in Dumfries & Galloway. In a quirk of geography, this is a part of Scotland that’s actually no further north than where we live in Northumberland, England.

Given how many sporting activities our kids do (they played seven football matches between them the week before, for example) we gave them half-term off everything to do with organised exercise. That being said, we still did Team Belshaw-like things such as going mountain biking in the Forest of Ae and walking through the Scottish drizzle to visit a ruined castle.

We signed up to NOWTV to watch the (incredible) Man Utd vs Liverpool game and also Disney+ so that the kids could watch all of the Star Wars films, Free Guy, and Tron Legacy. Other than that I’ve played quite a bit of the manager mode of FIFA 22 on Stadia.

As ever when I’m not working, I’m usually writing on tinkering with tech stuff. I’ve tried and ultimately failed to set up an Owncast server, but I did get to mess about with Droidcam — mainly because it’s trivially easy! I also almost transferred my Thought Shrapnel newsletter (back) to Revue. I thought that them being acquired by Twitter would mean that the pros outweighed the cons, but I was incorrect in that assumption.

Writing-wise, then, I published two posts here:

…and several over at Thought Shrapnel:

I’m still having trouble with waking up during the night after the slug incident, to be honest. I guess it’s a form of trauma, even if it’s funny to think of it in the cold light of day.

Next week, both Hannah and I are back to work and the kids are back to school. Our eldest is getting his flu and Covid vaccinations on Wednesday, so he’ll no doubt be wiped out on Thursday. I’m counting down the weeks until I finish work for the year…

Image from a photo of the bottom of an interesting bit of the blue mountain biking route at the Forest of Ae.

My Gamer Motivation Profile: Skirmisher/Bard

As a casual yet avid gamer, I jumped on a link shared by Mita Williams in the excellent University of Winds newsletter. An organisation by the name of Quantric Foundry has a Gamer Motivation Profile survey which I’ve taken and also shared with friends with whom I play with on a Sunday evening.

Skirmisher-Bard image

Interestingly, we all came out as slightly different. Here is mine. As ever, I don’t fit neatly into one category but am instead at the intersection of two types:

Your primary (dominant) player type is the Skirmisher, but you also lean towards a secondary player type, the Bard.

Skirmishers want fast-paced team arenas that are accessible and easy to jump into. They are highly spontaneous gamers who dislike games that require thinking and planning.

Bards are team players who want to chat and interact with other players in game worlds that are rich with lore, stories, discovery, and customization. For them, the game is a grand story that emerges from a community of players.

I do like a good radar plot and mine show that I’m pretty uninterested in storylines and ‘completion’. Instead, I’m “action-oriented, spontaneous, relaxed, social, immersed, and creative”. Nice.

Radar plot skewed towards Social, Creativity, Action, and Immersion (and away from Mastery and Achievement)

In general, I like to be able to jump in and out of games with or without friends (or strangers). I haven’t got the patience or life expectancy to be able to deal with long, drawn-out story modes!

Radar plot skewed towards Fantasy, Discovery, Competition, Discovery, and Excitement (and away from Challenge and Completion)

Radar plots can be really useful as diagnostic and matching tools. For example, five years ago I came across This service uses pre-defined areas to match developers (based on interest) with employers (based on requirements). That’s all well and good if you know what kind of things you like doing but sometimes, as with this example, answering a series of well-constructed questions can give you further insights.

EBSN podcast series on EPALE: Re-thinking Adult Basic Skills in the 21st century

I was interviewed recently for the European Basic Skills Network (EBSN) podcast. The focus was on the ways our understanding of literacy is changing as we deal with various digital opportunities and challenges.

Adult literacy, and basic skills in general, have become central to many sectors of EU policy from education & training to employment and social policy. The use of the term ‘literacy’ is expanding, different stakeholders understand it with regards to their own context, which leads to parallel interpretations. The increasing technological development and digitalisation trends in all fields of our lives, the green transformation, and the current focus on sustainability all contribute to the changing understanding of the term and our expectations toward it too, not to mention the influence of the ongoing pandemics that speeded up the adaption of digital solutions in adult learning.

The title of the current session is Re-thinking Adult Basic Skills in the 21st century and we chose this topic to allow for reflection on the changing nature of basic skills provision in the light of certain global phenomena that we all experienced recently. Our intention is to see how the understanding of basic skills training might have been affected by these processes. We present our sessions in two parts, firstly, in this unit we are addressing the notion of digital literacies while in the forthcoming part we will look into basic skills research, policy and practice.

We are accompanied by innovative educational thinkers, researchers, policy experts who will be our partners in analysing the constituents of adult basic skills in general. Our guest is Doug Belshaw.


We discussed the following topics in this podcast:

  • The impact of COVID on our digital behaviour: what lessons can we draw from this period of time? Is there anything that we should keep / let go / be aware of?
  • How can we create a balance between making digital skills training directed to individual needs and still applying certain standards?
  • Basic skills’ role to democratic citizenship: Lacking the necessary skills to read and write, calculate and more numeric behaviour, and especially applying digital tools consciously is becoming a must for all who wish to keep up with disruptive changes, crises, newly emerging policies in technology, social life, employment, learning etc.
  • Microcredentials, open badges: A tool that could turn out to be promising in making learning outcomes, training choices and acquired skills determined by individual needs are microcredentials.

It was fun! Hopefully the resulting audio is of use to someone or some organisation. The audio is also on the Internet Archive if it for some reason disappears from SoundCloud.