Open Thinkering


Start here

Last updated: May 2023


Doug Belshaw

I’m Doug Belshaw, based in the North East of England working through We Are Open Co-op and occasionally through Dynamic Skillset. I work at the intersection of learning, technology, and community, and I’m particularly interested in openness and decentralisation.

In previous guises I took the MoodleNet project from zero to one, worked on Open Badges and web literacy for Mozilla and on mobile learning, digital literacies, and Open Educational Resources for Jisc. Before that I was a History teacher and Director of E-Learning across a nine-site, all-age Academy.

My doctoral thesis (2012) was on digital literacies and I’ve written an e-book and given a TEDx talk on the subject.

This is my personal blog. I’ve previously had lots of different sites, such as (commentary), (new literacies-related), and (more philosophical). The main places I write other than here these days are Thought Shrapnel (which is also a monthly newsletter) and the WAO blog.

You can get updates to every blog post I publish via RSS or by following me on Mastodon and LinkedIn. I’m kind of done with providing data to ad-supported social networks that only serve to enrich venture capitalists and shareholders.

I record a podcast with colleague Laura Hilliger entitled The Tao of WAO which covers the intersection of technology, society, and internet culture – with a dash of philosophy and art for good measure. Until the untimely passing of my co-host, Dai Barnes, we recorded a regular podcast called Today In Digital Education (TIDE). The archive of the episodes from 2015 to 2019 remain available.

If you’re interested in my daily routine, I wrote about it in March 2017 here. It’s changed a little as my kids have got older and my wife now works full time, but the core is the same.

My most popular posts from each year since 2006 can be found below. For 2018 and 2019 these include ones from Thought Shrapnel and from 2020 onwards I just selected my favourites.


  1. Hadrian’s Wall Path in 72 hours
  2. All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace
  3. Wanted: a simple 3-step Open Badges platform to generate claim codes and issue badges
  4. First version of report published sharing findings from Zappa project user research
  5. No management but self-management


  1. 3 ways to gain control of your Twitter feed
  2. Solving for complexity
  3. Everything flows
  4. My two biggest insights from last year
  5. Smartwatch ramblings


  1. Letting go of my pre-pandemic self
  2. 3 advantages of consent-based decision making
  3. The auto-suggested life is not worth living
  4. Remaining unmanaged
  5. What I do when I don’t know what to do


  1. #RIPDai: in memory of a good friend
  2. What we need is an Open Badges community renaissance, free of IMS involvement
  3. The best place to be is somewhere else?
  4. Let’s (not) let children get bored again
  5. If you change nothing, nothing will change


  1. Bullshit receptivity scale
  2. The fate of private social networks
  3. On the death of Google/Apache Wave (and the lessons we can learn from it)
  4. Social internet vs social media
  5. Living an antifragile life


  1. 3 reasons I’ll not be returning to Twitter
  2. Friends don’t let friends use Facebook
  3. So it turns out that you can pretty much do whatever you like on your own website
  4. Against mass consumption of ‘already certified’ credentials
  5. How to build an architecture of participation


  1. 3 things I’ve learned from 200 weeks of sending out an email newsletter
  2. Utopia, pedagogy, and G-Suite for Education
  3. 7 approaches to educational technology integration
  4. Open Badges, BlockCerts, and high-stakes credentialing
  5. A new dawn for Open Badges


  1. Why I left teaching five years ago
  2. HOWTO: use GitHub Pages to host a bootstrap-themed website
  3. Today is my last day at Mozilla
  4. The three biggest (perceived) problems with Open Badges
  5. HOWTO: Trello Kanban


  1. Why I’m ditching Evernote for Simplenote (and Notational Velocity)
  2. HOWTO: Ditch Gmail for self-hosted webmail
  3. FirefoxOS v2.0 is possibly the easiest-to-use smartphone operating system I’ve experienced
  4. My morning routine
  5. The Web Literacy Standard is dead (long live the Web Literacy Map!)


  1. What I learned from turning my ‘Out of Office’ auto-replies on for a month
  2. Why I’m saying goodbye to Dropbox and hello to SpiderOak Hive
  3. Announcing the Web Literacy Standard (specification)
  4. A tribute to Chris Allan (@infernaldepart)
  5. Answering your questions about Open Badges


  1. Using Raspberry Pi and XBMC to build an ultra-cheap HTPC
  2. This is why teachers leave teaching
  3. Platforms as standards? 10 days with the Nokia N9.
  4. How I use a MacBook Pro (October 2012)
  5. How to make #openbadges work for you and your organisation


  1. How I Use a MacBook Pro (May 2011)
  2. What’s the opposite of ‘digital Taylorism’?
  3. The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies (#digilit)
  4. #ukedchat #fail: TES attempts takeover cover-up whilst Pearson muscles-in on grassroots Twitter teacher CPD
  5. 30 things I’ve learned in 30 years


  1. 5 characteristics of successful organisations
  2. 5 genuinely useful Twitter tools
  3. Google Apps (Education Edition) vs. Microsoft Live@Edu
  4. 7 things the Bible taught me about productivity
  5. Things I learned this week – #1


  1. HOWTO: Add an RSS feed to Google Sites
  2. Are organizations like brains?
  3. Daniel Goleman on Leadership and Emotional Intelligence
  4. HOWTO: Present full-screen using Prezi and an Apple Remote [OSX]
  5. HOWTO: Tether an iPhone to a netbook running Jolicloud


  1. Page peel script
  2. How to upgrade your Nokia N95 to v12.x firmware and make it a whole lot better
  3. 5 ways to make ‘textbook lessons’ more interesting
  4. 4 reasons you should jailbreak your iPhone 3G
  5. What is a VLE?


  1. Nokia N95 tips, reviews and software all in one place
  2. Demotivational posters
  3. Apple iPhone vs Nokia N95
  4. My favourite LOLcats
  5. How NOT to upgrade your Xbox


  1. The purpose of education? It isn’t this…
  2. Some ideas about the structure of my thesis proposal essay
  3. Managing Organizational Change – diagram
  4. Barriers to teachers’ use of ICT
  5. Ed.D. Thesis Proposal Outline

Thanks for getting this far and it’s great to have you as a new reader of my work!

10 thoughts on “Start here

  1. Hi Doug, I was taught by your Father at Hirst High, he was a really important figure in my school life. He had huge faith in me on the sportsfield and I was captain of his very succesful school football team.
    i moved away from Ashington at 17 following a career in the Royal Navy.. I often think of the good times at school, and particularly the annual trip to Manchester.
    Please pass on my best wishes to you Father, and thank him for the positive effect he had on my teenage years. Im enjoying life!

    1. Thanks Rob! I’m delighted to hear that. My Dad’s retired now, and still living in North Seaton. It’s great to think of the positive effect he’s had on so many people’s lives – including yours!

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