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My favourite posts of 2020

Every December I update the Start here page on this blog with the five most popular posts from that year. In 2020, I haven’t been gathering stats as much, as part of a drive to ensure I’m my authentic self.

So what to do? Stop the tradition, which dates back to 2006? I don’t want to do that, so, instead, I’m going to share my favourite posts from this year. These are the ones that have meant to the most to me and I’ll share 10 here and to five, as usual, on my Start here page.

Without further ado…

  1. Letting go of my pre-pandemic self — the pandemic, coupled with the therapy I’ve undertaken, and reflections on my undergraduate Philosophy days, made me realise that I don’t need to be the same person I used to be.
  2. 3 advantages of consent-based decision making — Outlandish, a co-operative I worked with during the latter half of this year, use consent-based decision making. Here’s why it’s so useful.
  3. The auto-suggested life is not worth living — this year in particular has seen a rise in products and services prompting us with responses. As humans, we shouldn’t be aiming for full rationality.
  4. Remaining unmanaged — I’ve always had an anti-authoritarian streak, and that’s only increased as I’ve matured. Working with, but outside, regular organisations seems to suit me best.
  5. What I do when I don’t know what to do — I don’t find myself in this position often, but when I do, here’s the three steps I take to get back on track.
  6. Practice what you preach — this year I switched theme on this blog to one that is much lighter and less resource-intensive. The stimulus to this was a realisation that, while I personally use a bunch of browser plugins to block trackers, I’d been subjecting others to tracking via the WordPress plugins I had installed.
  7. Slow down or I’ll do it for you — through migraines, my body (quite rightly) protects me from my latent desire to work at 100% all of the time.
  8. The cash value of truth — I’m a ‘Pragmatist’ (big ‘P’). Here’s what that means, ontologically and epistemologically-speaking.
  9. Herd immunity for privacy — I wonder whether functional privacy is ever possible without changing the practices of those around you?
  10. What do we mean by ‘the economy’? — as I quote Chenjerai Kumanyika as saying, talk of ‘the economy’ is just another way of referencing the preferences of concerns of rich people.

I’ll do a separate roundup for Thought Shrapnel, but just to round things off hereI think it’s also worth pointing to three other posts I wrote elsewhere:


This post is Day 76 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at 100daystooffload.com.

How to write a blog post

Last month, one of my clients got in touch to ask if I could send them some guidance around writing blog posts. They asked me to include the usual things such as:

  • Structuring a post
  • Making things clear for the reader
  • How to grammar/spell check

They asked me to put together something, which effectively is a couple of sides of A4 paper, for the start of the school term for a team they’ll be working with this academic year.

One of the reasons for my delay in getting started (other than the busiest summer, work-wise that I’ve ever had!) is that, rattling around at the back of my mind, is a series  on how to write blog posts. While it’s important to cover the bullet points above, I think there’s things to say about in situating blog posts within a wider discourse.

Here’s what I’ve written so far:

  1. Sitting down to write a blog post
  2. Putting your blog post into the world
  3. Deciding what to write about in your blog post
  4. Tools to help you with your blog post

I hope it will be of use.


Photo by WOCinTech Chat used under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

My most ‘engaging’ posts of 2010

I use an algorithm called PostRank quite a bit. It analyses engagement based on the 5 C’s of engagement: Creating, Critiquing, Chatting, Collecting and Clicking; it’s not just number of clicks nor just number of comments, but a whole range of metrics mashed up together.

According to that system, these are my most ‘engaging’ posts of 2010 – i.e. all posts over 8.0 out of 10:

  1. 5 genuinely useful Twitter tools (10.0)
  2. Twitter is not the best CPD you ever received (10.0)
  3. Why we don’t celebrate Hallowe’en in our house (9.3)
  4. Google Apps (Education Edition) vs. Microsoft Live@Edu (9.3)
  5. Write lots? Buy this. (9.2)
  6. The ultra-paranoid guide to ensuring you’ve got your presentation slides (9.1)
  7. Media Literacy: the biggest enemy of UK ‘digital literacy’ initatives? (9.0)
  8. A response to Donald Clark’s #altc2010 keynote (8.9)
  9. My bMoble TeachMeet presentation (8.9)
  10. How to design the ultimate presentation (8.7)
  11. HOWTO: Setup Google Scholar to do the heavy lifting for you (8.6)
  12. 10 reasons I like reading ebooks more than paper books (8.5)
  13. 5 reasons I’m using less and less Open Source stuff (8.5)
  14. Things I Learned This Week – #20 (8.4)
  15. How I organize my Ed.D. thesis (8.3)
  16. Things I learned this week – #7 (8.3)
  17. 10 things I’ve learned since starting work for JISC (8.3)
  18. Some reflections on the organization of #BectaX (8.3)
  19. Off-site and cloud-based backup: my solution (8.3)
  20. How to move forward with Open Source: a teacher’s perspective (8.2)
  21. Edtech companies: inspiring or conspiring (8.2)
  22. What’s this? (8.2)
  23. 7 things the Bible taught me about productivity (8.1)
  24. Some considerations regarding ebook readers for academics (8.1)
  25. 5 ways Google Calendar is turning into my ultimate productivity system (8.1)
  26. Pragmatism, dead metaphors, and the myth of the echo chamber (8.0)

See you in 2011! 😀

A tribute to Dan Meyer.

I’ve had my run-ins before with Dan Meyer when we were young(er) and (more) foolish.* But I have to give the guy credit – he can really think, write and teach. Read How Do You Turn Something Interesting Into Something Challenging? – almost the perfect template for how a teacher should reflect on their own practice. Dan goes from spark of an idea to a video showing how he taught it in practice in the space of the post. Exemplary! 😀

Once you’ve checked out that post, you might want to try these as well:

On returning to subscribing to Dan’s blog I assumed he was still teaching full-time. He’s not. First he decided to enrol to study towards a PhD (What Just Happened?) and then deferred to go and work for Google (Going Corporate). Who wouldn’t?!

It serves to demonstrate, however, something of which I’m increasingly aware: it’s extremely difficult to sustain outstanding teaching over more than a few years. I think I’m correct in saying that Dan’s been teaching five years. I’ve been teaching six (at a lower standard) and it’s taking its toll.

Perhaps guaranteed sabbaticals after 5 years are in order? (combined with the MA in Teaching & Learning?)

* Perhaps we’re too much alike. I didn’t like Paul Lewis (@aerotwist) much when I first met him. Now we get on like… a warm house. :-p

Recommend me 3

Just before Christmas I suffered from blogging burn-out. Having our first son in January last year knocked me for six and the consequences became apparent towards the end of the year. So I made a bit of a dramatic decision (at least for me).

I unsubscribed from every blog I subscribed to via Google Reader.

Now I’m suffering from information under-load (if there’s such a term). I feel a bit disconnected in terms of my main areas of interest: education, technology, productivity. So, reader, I need your help! Which blogs would you recommend in these areas? Are there any that you don’t miss a single post from? Check out my Trends provided courtesy of Google Reader below:

Trends in Google Reader for Doug Belshaw

Once upon a time I’d read 1,000 items in a day, never mind a month. Of course, I want quality over quantity.

I’ve shown you mine – care to show me yours? 😀

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