Category: Weeknotes (page 1 of 25)

Weeknote 07/2018

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out Issue #291 of my Thought Shrapnel newsletter. This one was called ‘ Necessary koalafications 🐨’ and featured curated links from the Thought Shrapnel blog (where you can also sign up if you don’t yet subscribe!)
  • Working in Perth and Mandurah, Australia at a Moodle team leads workweek. It was great to hang out in person with my colleagues, some of which I’d never met in person. We got lots done, and it was my pleasure to help facilitate some of that.
  • Putting the finishing touches to plans with Bryan Mathers for next weeks’ work in Washington DC with the Inter-American Development Bank around Open Badges.
  • Writing:

Next week I’m in Washington DC from Monday to Saturday. Over and above the work we’re doing there, I’m looking forward to hanging out with Bryan and a few people I’m planning to catch up with.

Weeknote 06/2018

This week I’ve been:

Next week I’ll be splitting my time between Mandurah and Perth in Australia, before flying home on Friday (and arriving Saturday).

Weeknote 05/2018

This week I’ve been:

Next week I’m working from home all week, flying to Perth (via Dubai) on Friday.

Image by Michal Grosicki used under a CC0 license

Weeknote 04/2018

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out Issue #288 of my Thought Shrapnel newsletter. This one was called ‘Socially and emotionally unavailable’ and featured curated links from the Thought Shrapnel blog (where you can also sign up if you don’t yet subscribe!)
  • Making a snowman with my seven year-old daughter on the field near our house. It’s never really snowed enough in her lifetime to do so before!
  • Celebrating my son’s eleventh birthday. Time. Flies.
  • Continuing work on Project MoodleNet. This week, whiteboarding and system architecture (not quite ready to show the world yet), meetings, planning for a trip to Moodle HQ in Perth, Australia next month, starting a GDPR course, catching up with Learn Moodle Basics 3.4, and finishing off a series of posts on the project blog.
  • Recording, editing and releasing Episode 95 of the Today In Digital Education (TIDE) podcast with my co-host Dai Barnes. We entitled this episode ‘New Year, same old TIDE’ and discussed what we’ve been up to since the end of last year, family life, book recommendations, using smartphones wisely, GDPR, and more!
  • Renegotiating our mortgage and deciding on which car to go with next, as our current lease expires in March. After a 24-hour test drive of a Toyota C-HR, which is a very cool car, we’ve decided to go with the 2018 version of our current Toyota Auris Touring Sports, as it’s extremely practical for the kind of life my family leads.
  • Curating and scheduling Issue #25 of Badge News, a regular newsletter for the Open Badges community. It’s going to be hitting inboxes on the last Friday of the month from now on.
  • Looking after my family, who all managed to lose their voice due to some kind of cold this week.
  • Participating in the first Mozilla Open Leadership Map community call, led by Chad Sansing. It’s promising work, and I showed up to say hello to former colleagues and connect the work with other initiatives (both previous Mozilla ones and elsewhere).
  • Attending the Bett Show on Friday with Bryan Mathers, whose family also gave me a place to stay on Thursday night. It was good to see, amongst others, Sophie Bessemer, Graham Brown-Martin, Dawn Hallybone, Gavin Henrick, Paul Hutson, Tony Parkin, and Oliver Quinlan there.
  • Writing:

Next week I’m at home, working with Moodle from Monday to Thursday, and then planning with Bryan Mathers for upcoming work we’re doing on behalf of We Are Open Co-op with the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington D.C. next month.

Weeknote 03/2018

This week I’ve been:

Next week I’m working from home from Monday to Thursday, then I’ll be at the Bett Show in London on Friday.

Photo taken today as my son and I headed to Kielder to pick up an ex-hire hybrid bike he’s getting for his birthday on Monday.

Weeknote 02/2018

This week I’ve been:

Next week I’m at home from Monday to Wednesday, then I’m down meeting with my We Are Open Co-op colleagues in London on Thursday and Friday. The week after I’ll be at the Bett Show on the Friday.

Weeknote 01/2018

So here we are! The first weeknote of 2018. You know the drill.

This week I’ve been:

  • Celebrating the New Year. I spent Christmas at home with just my wife and children, but we went down to Devon to the in-laws for New Year and had a great time.
  • Redesigning Thought Shrapnel, which is now not only a weekly newsletter, but also a blog! I think you’ll agree that Bryan Mathers did a great job with the logo. Read more about that here. You can become a supporter to show your appreciation for this work, and to ensure it continues!
  • Returning to life as an employee! As I mentioned before Christmas, I’m leading a new innovation project for Moodle. This involves working for them four days per week, and I can do so from home (with a bit of travel). So in a sense, lots has changed, and nothing at all. Note I’m still doing some consultancy, mostly through We Are Open co-op.
  • Meeting with Moodle colleague Tom Murdock about various things.
  • Introducing myself on the forum for the upcoming Learn Moodle Basics course. It’s been a few years since I used Moodle, so I thought I’d get back up-to-speed along with Mary Cooch and the community!
  • Working a short week due to New Year’s Day on Monday. My ‘Doug day’ (or, more likely, ‘consultancy / admin / catch-up-with-all-the-things day’) is likely to be Fridays, most weeks. This time around it was full of admin and my children begging me to play with them instead, — as they don’t go back to school until next week.
  • Sorting out various things as Secretary of the Executive Committee for 6th Morpeth Scouts.  I’m trying to streamline some stuff around meetings, calendaring, etc.
  • Facepalming at Dell, who want to charge me over ÂŁ900 to fix a my less than one-year old XPS 13 laptop which has a threaded screw in the base. This is causing it come apart near the screen. As a result of their greed and poor customer service, I’ve used duct tape to patch it up as best I can, and bought a ÂŁ60 battery to resurrect my Lenovo X220. I prefer the keyboard on the latter anyway, and in fact I’m using it to type this!
  • Writing:

Next week I’m at home all week, and celebrating my daughter’s birthday towards the end of it. I’ll be in London twice this month, the week after next for a co-op meetup, and then the week after that, I’ll be at BETT on the Friday.

Photo taken by me on New Years’ Day at Branscombe beach, Devon.

Weeknote 51/2017

It feels weird to be writing a 51st weeknote of the year, as usually I’ve gone on ‘Belshaw Black Ops’, forsaking social media and blogging for the last month (or two) of the year. This time around, I haven’t felt that I’ve needed to, which I suppose is a good thing.

Anyway, this week I’ve been:

Next week it’s Christmas! I’m not working until Tuesday 2nd January, when I start my new four day a week role with Moodle. I’m still available for consultancy one day a week, most of which I’ll be doing through We Are Open Co-op.

Featured image of a 3D-printed Christmas decoration taken by me earlier this week!

Weeknote 50/2017

This week I’ve been:

Next week, I’m working four days (Monday-Thursday) from home on the MoodleNet white paper. It’s my birthday on Friday, so I’ll be eating mince pies, drinking whisky, and playing FIFA 18 instead of working.

Photo of Clayton Hotel, Ballsbridge (where I stayed in Dublin) taken by me on Thursday night.

Weeknote 49/2017

This was another one of those weeks that doesn’t make much sense to capture in bullet-point form, so instead I’ll go for paragraphs. Also, people seemed to like my roundup of the CoTech retreat last week that featured a lot of images, so I’ll do the same in this one.

Last Friday, I flew to Amsterdam with my wife. We’d planned the trip in the summer, deciding that this year we wouldn’t just talk about going somewhere in December, but actually book it. Initially, we thought about going to a Christmas market in a German, Czech, or Polish city, but after finding out about the Amsterdam Light Festival, decided to go there instead.

Amsterdam canal boats

We actually went to Amsterdam reasonably recently – three years ago, for a delayed celebration of our 10th wedding anniversary. As we’d did the ‘touristy’ things then, we were freed up to do other things this time around. That being said, we still did lots, which meant that I didn’t get any time to put together a newsletter.

Beer or Rain?

My wife and I stayed at the Doubletree by Hilton Amsterdam Centraal Station. It’s a great location, and a nice hotel. The room was quiet, the beds were comfortable, and the staff were very friendly. The breakfast buffet was one of the best I’ve seen – and as regular readers know, I’ve travelled to a fair few places in North America and Europe over the past few years. My only complaint would be the lack of attention by staff at breakfast, and the NOISE. I can’t stand having my eardrums attacked as I’m still getting used to a new day.

Amsterdam Festival of Light

The theme of the Festival of Light this year is ‘Existential’ which, as a Philosophy graduate, was right up my street. We took a guided canal boat trip which featured several artworks by artists from around the world. I loved the idea of the image of a lighthouse being projected onto the side of a museum, as being the inverse of its function. Also, the ‘black hole’, seemingly sucking you into one of the tunnels was great – as was the waveform that responded to the sound made by the boats underwater.

Shopping in the Jordaan district, Amsterdam

The rest of the time we wandered around the Jordaan district, and in particular the ‘nine streets’ famous for their quirky little shops. Thanks to Foursquare, we ate and drank at some great places, including Mata Hari, Back to Black, and Kessens. Even the restaurant at the hotel was enjoyable, which, I have to say, is unusual.

Amsterdam canal houses

In a spectacular example of serendipity, a few weeks ago Jeroen de Boer, Innovation Advisor at Bibliotheekservice Fryslân got in touch to ask if there was any chance I was free for a weekin December to work with his team. As a result, I moved a couple of things around meaning that, when my wife flew home on Sunday night, I headed to Leeuwarden in the north of the Netherlands to work with a group of librarians.


In Leeuwarden, I stayed at the Post Plaza hotel. It was converted a couple of years ago from the old Post Office and Bank, with the two connected via a glass walkway. It’s a beautiful hotel, and one with a rich history that was told to us by a tour guide who led us around the city on Thursday night.

Post Plaza, Leeuwarden

During the Second World War, the Post Office was occupied by German soldiers, who intended to blow it up as the Allies were close. They didn’t want the Allies to be able to use the building for communications, so placed 72 bombs in the basement. As some of the postal workers were part of the Resistance, they hatched a plan to replace all of the bombs with fake ones of the same weight, created by comrades who previously specialised in fake passports. When the time came, the Germans lit the fuse, and… nothing!

Bibliotheekservice Fryslan

Bibliotheekservice Fryslân is a provincial library service who have won awards for their innovative work. With perhaps the exception of the staff of London CLC, I’ve rarely worked with a team who are simultaneously so dedicated and friendly. I had a great week. We spent our time building a plan for them to start issuing Open Badges based on my work around digital literacies. It’s very humbling when you see your work being used in a language other than which you created it.

Kennissessie Digitale Geletterdheid

The week was kicked off by an event on Monday open to those across the province. Ilona Kish, Director of Public Libraries 2020, and EU-funded project, was a speaker at the event, as was I. Our presentations provoked discussion and a workshop in the afternoon for a smaller group, which I led.

Why does it matter? (Ilona Kish presentation)

On Tuesday, I had some time to myself, and then met with Jeroen and Marc Coenders, professor at the local university of Applied Sciences. We had a long and interesting discussion about the overlaps between our work.


Wednesday was a long day, with several of the Bibliotheekservice Fryslân, two ‘makers’ they work with, and me driving all the way to Middelburg in Zeeland for a ‘FabTable‘ event in their library’s makerspace. They also took the FryskLab, a mobile library turned into mobile FabLab! I presented on digital literacies and badges, then we headed home again, arriving back after midnight.

Doing the work with Post-it notes, Bibliotheekservice Fryslân

On Thursday and Friday we had some time to go into depth with staff at Bibliotheekservice Fryslân and other partner library services about digital literacies and Open Badges. I appreciated the trust that the group put in me, after I explained that coming up with a rigid agenda would suit nobody. Instead, I adapted what we did to their interests and energy levels, leading them through a range of activities.

Post-it notes, Bibliotheekservice Fryslân

By 15:00 on Friday, we’d covered all but two of the things that the group had said they wanted to achieve, and even they were in progress. Bibliotheekservice Fryslân has a plan around a sort of ‘manifesto’ for Digital Librarianship, together with some badges which designed for five personas we developed during our time together.

Personas created by Doing the work with Post-it notes, Bibliotheekservice Fryslân staff and illustrated by Edward Kobus

I felt very looked-after during my time in Leeuwarden, and look forward to potentially returning at some point in the future to help them with their project. It’s a beautiful city and, in fact, will be European Capital of Culture in 2018. If you’re reading this, then you should consider going to visit!

KLM flight home

I’m back home now, after getting a train from Leeuwarden to Schipol Airport via Zwolle, flying to Newcastle and then getting a taxi home. Travel, plus the intensity of this week’s work has meant that the only other thing of substance I’ve done is curate and send out Badge News #23, which is the last one of 2017. It features a round-up of the most clicked-on links of the year.

Next week, I’m working from home from Monday to Wednesday, then in Dublin on Thursday and Friday. Monday is all about meetings and writing, Tuesday and Wednesday I’m focusing on researching and writing the MoodleNet white paper, and then on Thursday and Friday I’m hanging out with Moodle colleagues Gavin Henrick, Mary Cooch, and Garnet Berry. That’s the last travel for me before Christmas!

Fabulous illustrations by Edward Kobus (used with permission). Disappointing photos solely my own responsibility.

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