Category: Weeknotes (page 1 of 24)

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.

Weeknotes 43 & 44/2017

Last week, after tying up some loose ends with various bits of client work and scheduling Badge News #20, I headed off for a holiday with my family from Tuesday to Tuesday, returning to the wonderful island of Gozo in the Mediterranean. No wonder it’s suspected of being the mythical island of Ogygia, referred to by Homer in The Odyssey.

This week, after arriving back on Tuesday evening, I started some work with Moodle from Wednesday to Friday. In fact, I’m heading to Florida on Sunday for the 2017 Miami MoodleMoot to kick off work on a project I’ll be leading. More details on that soon.

Otherwise, I’ve spent this short three-day work recording the Episode 91 of the TIDE podcast with Dai Barnes, helping facilitate this month’s  Badge Wiki barn raising with Bryan Mathers, and catching up with Oliver Quinlan, Laura Hilliger, Gavin Henrick, Garnet Berry, Tom Murdock, and a few other — including some students from UCL looking for some advice about putting on a conference.

Oh, and I haven’t eaten meat for the last two weeks, but I’m following the advice of Alan Jacobs (via Austin Kleon) on that…

I wrote the following:

After my trip to Miami next week, I’ll be home for 24 hours before heading to London on Friday to present at the InnovateEdTech 2017 event on Saturday 11th November. I believe a few tickets are still available and you can get 50% off if you use the code EDTECH50.


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 42/2017

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out Thought Shrapnel, my weekly newsletter loosely structured around education, technology, and productivity. Issue #279 was entitled ‘Nothing like a nap…’ You can also try my Thought Shrapnel Live! channel on Telegram where I post links as I come across them. Thank you to valued supporters!
  • Recording and releasing Episode 90 (‘Unscripted and uncensored’) of the Today In Digital Education (TIDE) podcast, which I record with Dai Barnes. This week, we discussed the key to successful organisations, Doug’s new censorship-resistant blog, calming technology, vegetarianism, and other unscripted nonsense.
  • Finishing off my contract with Totara Learning, who I’ve been helping with their community migration project. They’re a great bunch of people, and I look forward to working with them again at some point.
  • Sorting out a mirrored will with my wife over the phone through the easy-to-use Co-op will writing service. We’ve been married 14 years and been parents for almost 11 years, so it’s a bit embarrassing that we’ve left it this long.
  • Interviewed by Education Investor magazine about the potential use of blockchain technologies in education. As I reminded them, it’s literally a distributed ledger with cryptographic proof of work that allows append-only changes. Most uses are likely to be for backend, ‘boring’ supply-side stuff, rather than anything anyone notices and pays attention to.
  • Writing a report for the International School of Geneva about their strategy around learning technologies, after my visit last week.
  • Setting up Nextcloud to sync files, photos, and contacts to my own server.
  • Booking flights to Washington D.C. for the work Bryan Mathers and I are doing for the Inter-American Development Bank in November on behalf of We Are Open co-op.
  • Helping with Scouts. We carved pumpkin, made soup, and fried sausages. Great fun!
  • Looking after my children on Friday as it was a teacher training day for them — but not for my wife, who was at work.
  • Writing:

Next week, I’m working at home on Monday, and then away for a week in Gozo with my family.


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 Morpeth riverside taken by me on Friday.

Weeknote 40/2017

This week I’ve been:


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 me presenting at the ALL DIGITAL Summit taken by Ana Vitorica

Weeknote 39/2017

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out Thought Shrapnel, my weekly newsletter loosely structured around education, technology, and productivity. Issue #276 was entitled ‘Falling into Autumn’. A reminder that all the links for the newsletter (and more!) go out via the Thought Shrapnel Live! channel on Telegram. Virtual fist bumps are given regularly to those who have become valued supporters.
  • Recording and releasing Episode 88 (‘Sweating the Small Stuff’) of the Today In Digital Education (TIDE) podcast, which I record with Dai Barnes. This week, we discussed why your user community needs a Code of Conduct, sweating the small stuff in the classroom, the anatomy of a moral panic, coding as cutting tech wages, and more!
  • Catching up with Sarah Horrocks about the technology-enhanced teacher professional development report we’re researching and writnig for the Education Development Trust.
  • Running a ‘strapline thinkathon’ for London CLC with Bryan Mathers on behalf of We Are Open Co-op. The ‘blended’ approach works well: Bryan was in the room using his document camera as he draws and facilitates, and me coming in virtually on the big screen via video conference!
  • Curating Issue #18 of Badge News, a regular newsletter for the Open Badges community, published by our co-op.
  • Creating a prototype of a website for our local Scout troop using GitHub Pages.
  • Confirming my session at the Innovate Edtech conference on November 11th in London.
  • Responding to requests to spend time with organisations in The Netherlands and Germany.
  • Looking at houses as we consider moving. It’s likely that will only be very locally (as in, within a half-mile radius), if at all.
  • Spending two days working with Totara Learning in Brighton on a community migration project, and one representing them at the Learning Pool Live conference in London. It was great bumping into, and catching up with, Ian Usher. I also enjoyed Donald Taylor‘s keynote and having a quick chat with him afterwards.
  • Writing:
    • Barnstorming (We Are Open Co-op blog, 26th September 2017)

Next week, it’s a co-op day on Monday, then I’m off to Barcelona on Tuesday to speak at the ALL DIGITAL Summit. I’m staying on a few days as my father is flying in so we can see the sights together. I’m then heading on to Geneva and he’s returning home.


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 on a run to Brighton Marina on Friday morning. Post-processing in Snapseed.

Weeknote 38/2017

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out Thought Shrapnel, my weekly newsletter loosely structured around education, technology, and productivity. Issue #275 was entitled ‘Face facts’. A reminder that all the links for the newsletter (and more!) go out via the Thought Shrapnel Live! channel on Telegram. High-fives to those who have become valued supporters.
  • Recording and releasing Episode 87 (‘About Face’) of the Today In Digital Education (TIDE) podcast, which I record with Dai Barnes. This was the first episode since July and so this week we discussed what we got up to over the summer break, why you shouldn’t unlock your phone with your face, student uniforms and tuition fees, productivity, the future of work, and more!
  • Spending time thinking and talking about something I can’t announce just quite yet. Exciting, though!
  • Researching and writing a research report on technology-enhanced teacher professional development for the Education Development Trust with Sarah Horrocks from London CLC.
  • Attending the first meeting of the local Scouts Executive Committee in the role of Secretary. I’m going to try and bring them into the 21st century a bit.
  • Working with Totara Learning continuing to work on the vision and strategy for their community migration project. I spent time on things like putting together a community survey, meeting with the project team, and putting together a draft code of conduct.
  • Hosting this month’s Badge Wiki barn raising, which I’ll be writing up soon. Things are going pretty well, and it’s great that people are so willing to step up to help build a knowledge base for the Open Badges community! Check out what we discussed here.
  • Writing:

This weekend, I’m helping with the Scouts expedition (map reading, etc.) Next week I’m working from home on Monday and Tuesday morning, mainly on London CLC-related stuff. Then I’m heading down on the train to Brighton to work with Totara. I’ll be working from their offices on Wednesday and Friday, spending Thursday in London at Learning Pool Live.

Upcoming travel in October:

  • Barcelona (3rd-8th)
  • Geneva (9th-10th)
  • Brighton (18th-20th)
  • Gozo (24th-31st)

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 a page of The Chrysalids by John Wyndham, which I picked up for 10p in a charity sale as it was falling apart. Excellent story, highly recommended.

Weeknote 37/2017

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out Thought Shrapnel, my weekly newsletter loosely structured around education, technology, and productivity. Issue #274 was entitled ‘Great running’. I send out all of the links for the newsletter via the Thought Shrapnel Live! channel on Telegram. Many thanks to those who have become valued supporters.
  • Bracing myself for Autumn. Someone flipped a switch on the weather and it’s been cold and rainy in Northumberland this week.
  • Working on a research report for the Education Development Trust with Sarah Horrocks from London CLC.
  • Starting to plan upcoming co-op work in Washington D.C. for the Inter-American Development Bank with Bryan Mathers.
  • Catching up with Dai Barnes after a summer break for the TIDE podcast. We’ll start recording episodes again next week.
  • Curating and sending out Issue #17 of Badge News, a newsletter for the Open Badges community.
  • Putting together a bullet-point overview of my presentation for the ALL DIGITAL Summit in Barcelona next month. I’ve given it the TED-style talk the title Future Infrastructure, Future Skills, Future Mindsets.
  • Working with Totara Learning on the vision and strategy for their community migration project. This involves me working in Confluence and JIRA a lot, tools both made by Atlassian. I notice they’ve launched a Slack competitor in the form of Stride, which I’ll hopefully be testing with them soon.
  • Writing:
    • (nothing public)

Next week is a rinse-and-repeat of this week — I’m at home all week, working on the EDT report Monday/Tuesday, and then with Totara from Wednesday to Friday.


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 on my run along Morpeth bypass on Tuesday morning.

Weeknote 36/2017

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out Thought Shrapnel, my weekly newsletter loosely structured around education, technology, and productivity. Issue #273 was entitled ‘Sycamore Gap’. There are now 50 people signed up to Thought Shrapnel Live! and using Telegram to receive links as I come across them. You can also become a valued supporter.
  • Hanging out with my kids before they headed back to school this week. There were celebrations and activities around the Tour of Britain cycle race, which pretty much went past our house!
  • Celebrating being married to my wonderful wife, Hannah, for 14 years.
  • Deleting all of the tweets I’ve sent over the past 10 years. I explained why in this post.
  • Catching up with Bryan Mathers about some work we’re doing in Washington D.C. on behalf of We Are Open Co-op in November for the Inter-American Development Bank.
  • Spending a lot of time getting to grips with JIRA, putting together a list of project risks, and experimenting with the admin interface relating to some work I’m doing with Totara Learning.
  • Dismayed that Salesforce seem to be trying to patent digital badges. We’ve begun to crowdsource prior art on Badge Wiki.
  • Accompanying my children who ran in the Mini and Junior Great North Run respectively. I’ve only recently started running again myself (I don’t seem to get migraines afterwards any more) so perhaps next year I’ll enter either the main Great North Run or Great North 10k!

Next week I’m doing some work for London CLC on Monday and Tuesday, and then working with Totara Learning from Wednesday to Friday.


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 as the Tour of Britain came past the road near our house in Morpeth.

Weeknote 35/2017

This week I’ve been:

Next week I’m looking after my children on Monday as it’s their last day of the summer holidays and my wife’s got a teacher training day. I’m working from home on Tuesday doing some research for London CLC, and then with Totara Learning from Wednesday to Friday.


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 as we walked along Hadrian’s Wall from The Sill to Sycamore Gap.

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