Tag: weeknote (page 1 of 20)

Weeknote 35/2019

You know that feeling after you come back from holiday and you let out a sigh and then get back to work? I did that again this week after a five-day long Bank Holiday weekend spent in Devon at my in-laws. We had a great time.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the work I do, as far as work goes. But like most people, I think, given the current state of the world, there’s plenty of other things we could be doing with our time. MoodleNet will help with some of that, but obliquely. It’s going to help a certain group of people (educators) better teach another group of people (learners) so that they can, hopefully, improve our world.

I’ve written an update on the MoodleNet blog about where we are with the project. I have no major concerns right now, although the timeline for testing federation has slipped a bit.

The thing that’s taken a lot of my brain space this week is getting out the last two ever episodes of the TIDE podcast, which I recorded with my late co-host Dai Barnes. I added an intro and edited out part of the original recording we made back in June to publish Episode 119: AirDrop Crossfire on Thursday. Next week, I’ll release a memorial episode that I recorded with the help of Eylan Ezekiel and many audio contributions from friends and listeners to TIDE.

So it’s been a quiet week: driving back from Devon, working four days for Moodle, editing two podcast episodes, producing stuff for Thought Shrapnel, and then dealing with some drama when my son had to go to hospital after an accident involving him attempting some parkour. He’s OK, thankfully.

Next week, it’s back-to-school week for my kids, including a new school building for our youngest on the far side of town. So some logistics to deal with there, as she’s (just!) too young to walk there alone. Other than that, I’m taking Monday off and then working on MoodleNet stuff Tuesday to Friday.


Header image: photo of some street art at a skate park in Honiton, Devon

Weeknote 31/2019

This has been a week of consciously winding-down towards my holidays. Too often it takes me a few days to properly relax and then, inevitably, a few days before going back to work you start shifting back into ‘work mode’. During a two-week holiday, therefore, I end up only getting a couple of days of proper relaxation.

I worked two and half days instead of my usual four this week, and spent time preparing for Team Belshaw’s upcoming holiday to New England. We’ve got a bunch of stuff planned, including kayaking, cycling, exploring the history of the region, and chilling out next to water.

The main aim this week was to make sure the rest of the MoodleNet team can be productive in my absence. Given how talented and self-sufficient they are, that’s not a particularly difficult thing to do, but any team needs co-ordination.

As part of these efforts I produced a MoSCoW prioritisation grid for both pre-beta and post-beta functionality. For such a simple approach, it turned out to be remarkably useful. I also did some work around OKRs and other admin-focused tasks, and met with Eummena, who have hired developers specifically to work on MoodleNet.

I did my usual Thought Shrapnel work this week, including an article on FOMO, a microcast on Philosophy and Accessibility, and a roundup of links that I found interesting. My wife and I also went out for afternoon tea at The Running Fox, I hosted a Scout Leaders’ planning meeting, and I spent some time cleaning the street sign at the bottom of my road (after running out of patience with the council).

Next week, I’ll be… ON HOLIDAY! ūüŹĖÔłŹ


Photograph of Tynemouth South Lighthouse taken by me on a family walk last Sunday.

Weeknote 29/2019

I’m writing this sitting in my lounge while my daughter is watching Gym Stars (her favourite programme) and my son is upstairs playing Fortnite (his favourite game). My wife has just served up some magnificent scones with clotted cream and jam to celebrate the end of the school term.

Even though it’s almost a decade since I worked in schools, my brain still works in academic terms. It’s hard for it not to, really, given the lives of the other three members of my immediate family are school-centred.

I’ve got another couple of weeks before we head off on holiday. There’s plenty to get done, but it’s all manageable, I think. The clickable prototype that Ivan has been working on is looking great, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with the community next week.

This week, MoodleNet started federating! That meant that this week we shared a blog post for expressions of interest for our Federation testing programme. We’ve still got work to do on the front end and back end, but we’re aiming for this to kick off in about a month’s time.

I was looking forward to the Scouts Beach BBQ this week but, unfortunately, it rained. That meant we decamped to the Methodist church (where are meetings are usually held) and cooked the burgers, etc. in the ovens. Thankfully, everyone still came, so it was a good end-of-term event.

For Thought Shrapnel this week I wrote a pretty long article with an equally-long title: The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance‚ÄĒit is the illusion of knowledge. I recorded a microcast entitled Voice assistants, the gig economy, and‚Ķ giving it all up? And then I shared some interesting links in Friday federations.

In other news, I’m taking a bit more of a back seat with the co-op over the next few months. I’m not leaving, just with everything else on I need to focus on other things and know that my colleagues have my back. Which is a great feeling.

Finally, I bought a bunch of books in the Verso sale. Their deals are so good, as you get the ebook and hard copy for the price you’d often pay just for the ebook. This time around I went for:

Next week, I’ll be working around the logistics of ensuring our two children get to various summer activities (football camp, church holiday club, etc.) while ensuring everything is going according to plan with MoodleNet.


Photo taken by me of a wonderful sign in a neighbours porch: “Watch out for the cat” (in Italian)

Weeknote 25/2019

This week started with a camping and walking trip that seems a long time ago now. I wrote that up here.

The rest of the week seemed to be an attempt to get back into a routine, both in terms of work but also in terms of exercise. I find that when my exercise regime (such as it is) gets out of whack, it has a knock-on effect on what I eat, how I sleep, and therefore how productive I am.

A highlight was backwoods cooking with the Scouts on Wednesday, which is always enjoyable.

I’m pretty much back to normal now, although I just want to forget last week, as much as possible really, and move on. It wasn’t awful, just nothing to write home about. And I’d like to use my energy on making sure next week is better.

Weeknote 24/2019

This week has felt long. I can’t believe it hasn’t actually been a fortnight, actually. The main excitement in the Belshaw household over the past few days has been taking delivery of one of these, which has meant completely re-configuring our lounge. The idea is that everything isn’t arranged around the television. We’ll see.

I’ve been working on three different things for Moodle this week:

  1. MoodleNet ‚ÄĒ the resource-centric social network for educators. I’ve been helping Ivan, our UX designer and front-end developer map out a new, more ‘conversational’ interface. It needs to use educational content before sharing with the community.
  2. Sunsetting moodle.net ‚ÄĒ we need to shut down the existing service at moodle.net in a graceful way and it looks like I’m responsible for that! There’s a Moodle Tracker epic with sub-issues.
  3. P2P badges for informal recognition ‚ÄĒ I shared a proposal with the Culture Champs group on how we could use Open Badges internally, pointing out the difference between credentialing and recognition.

Excitingly, Mayel has been doing some research into using a version control system such as git for providing the ‘fork/remix/share’ approach we want to encourage with MoodleNet. We’re also closer to releasing v0.9.4 which will allow users to choose a username and reset their password.

Other than that, I’ve been tired. Mainly because I’ve been sleepwalking(!) and dealing with more life admin than usual. In a moment of temporary insanity I’ve booked a stay at the campsite outside the UK’s highest hostel, so I’ll be carrying a tent while I walk on Sunday, camping at 1550ft, and then walking on Monday too.

I’m still writing every day for Thought Shrapnel, which I’m really rather proud of. No matter what people think of the content (although they seem to like it!) I find it a very valuable discipline to read enough to then be able to write something every day with at least six links in it.

Next week I’m working Tuesday to Friday on MoodleNet stuff after my (hopefully not ill-advised) camping/walking trip…

Weeknote 23/2019

This week has been much more enjoyable than last, after which I had a bit of a whinge. It’s been book-ended by two things I really enjoy doing: going for a long walk, and going out for food with my wife.

On Monday morning, I really was not in the mood for work, and had this almost primal desire to see the sea. So I re-arranged my working days and, as my wife had the car, decided to walk to the beach and back again. The caveat? I had to fit it all in between dropping off and picking my daughter from school.

Route from where I live (Morpeth) to the beach

As you can see from the Google Maps route above, I was pushing it to fit it in between 9am and 3pm. In the end, though, I managed it, and it proved to be a very enjoyable 18 mile (30km) walk!

This week has been an interesting one for my work on MoodleNet. It’s not all just fun and innovation when running a project like this. There’s compliance and legacy infrastructure to deal with, too. Happily, I’m pleased that the Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) we’ve put out for community consultation is reasonably clear and interesting to read!

I’ve been working with Ivan, our UX designer and front-end developer on taking the MoodleNet user interface in a different direction. It’s an iterative approach, but I like the way it’s heading.

As usual, I wrote a bunch of things for Thought Shrapnel that are only available to supporters until next week. The one with the best title is probably There’s no viagra for enlightenment and the one I enjoyed writing most is What is no good for the hive is no good for the bee.

On Monday evening, Dai and I managed to record another episode of the Today In Digital Education (TIDE) podcast. Episode 118 was entitled ‘Raising Digital Citizens’ where we discussed research in schools, walking long distances, screen time, digital citizenship, tech veganism, fully automated luxury communism, and more!

On Friday, Moodle colleagues in the Perth and Barcelona offices went out to celebrate the release of Moodle 3.7. We remote workers were given an allowance to take a friend or family member out for pizza, so I took my wife to BOX.PIZZA nestled deep in the Northumbrian countryside!

Next week I’m at home all week, working Monday to Thursday on Moodle things.

Weeknote 22/2019

I don’t know why I don’t just book time off every half-term. Unlike the summer holidays, where the kids get into a rhythm of entertaining themselves, as a parent you always feel ‘on-call’ when they have just one week off school.

Thankfully, my wife was around, but I felt like my work was an inconvenience to family life this week. And, after all, why do we work? Part of it is to have the money to spend time with your family doing fun things. I don’t feel like I enjoyed the fruits of my labour this week.

There were good reasons why I didn’t book holidays this week, though. One of them was because it was Product Management Planning Week at Moodle. These have been a bit sporadic since their inception just after I joined the organisation at the start of last year. So it was good that I got to spend some time, albeit virtually, with fellow Product Managers.

In terms of MoodleNet, the product whose development I’m overseeing, this has been the second week for Karen and James, our new backend developers. They’re getting into the swing of things and it’s good to see so much conversation happening between them and Mayel, our Technical Architect, on team Telegram channels! I’ve also been spending some time with Ivan, our designer and front-end developer, about taking MoodleNet in a different direction in terms of user interface.

Back on the home fromt, my wife’s sister and family were up last weekend. They’re so much more chilled-out than our family, which tends to schedule all the things and treat everything as a competition. Sometimes you need a welcome encouragement just to relax.

Other than that, it’s been good to see support come in via Open Collective for We Are Open community projects like Badge Wiki. We’re planning to launch a forum soon for the discussion of badges, among other things. This will go under the umbrella of our ‘Learning Fractal’ sub-brand, which we’re currently using only for our newsletter.

Finally, I took the opportunity of some spare hours on Friday while my son was at trials for the Newcastle Eagles academy to go to the Laing Art Gallery. I’ve been trying to carve out time to see Chris Killip‘s photos of the decline of shipbuilding on the Tyne since reading about the exhibition in The Guardian earlier this year. The photos are amazing and the story is a sad but evocative one.

Next week, I’m getting back into the regime of taking Fridays as my non-Moodle day. I’ll miss having my week split in two, but on the other hand it should give me more scope to get up some mountains and get 20 Quality Mountain Days under my belt!

Weeknote 09/2019

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out¬†Issue #334¬†of my¬†Thought Shrapnel¬†newsletter. It was entitled,¬†‚ÄėBeing where the rubber meets the road is… tyring‚Äô¬†and was, as ever, made possible via those who support me on¬†Patreon.
  • Recording,¬†editing¬†and releasing¬†Episode 116¬†of the¬†Today In Digital Education¬†(TIDE) podcast with my co-host¬†Dai Barnes. We entitled this episode¬†‚ÄėA Climate of Safety‚Äô¬†and discussed biohacking, games and learning mechanics, YouTube and suicide prevention, capitalism, climate change, SolarPunk, foldable displays, and more!
  • Working¬†on the¬†MoodleNet¬†project:
  • Being invested as an Assistant Scout Leader and starting my Wood Badge training.
  • Getting¬†our 12 year-old son ready for his first skiing trip with the school.
  • Discussing upcoming consultancy work with a potential client for the co-op.

Next week, I’m at home working on MoodleNet Mon/Tues and Thurs/Fri. I’ll be available on Wednesday morning (GMT) if you want to talk something through for half an hour. Book a slot here!


Photo taken by me of Morpeth Chantry on Friday

Weeknote 08/2019

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out¬†Issue #333¬†of my¬†Thought Shrapnel¬†newsletter. It was entitled,¬†‚ÄėBad puns are how eye roll‚Äô¬†and was, as ever, made possible via those who support me on¬†Patreon.
  • Taking Monday and Tuesday as holiday. As a family we visited Jorvik Viking Centre, Magna Science Adventure Centre, and Fountains Abbey, which were all great! In fact, I reckon visiting Jorvik as a nine year-old possibly kindled my interest in history.
  • Spending¬†Wednesday doing half a day for Moodle and half as a consultancy day. I spoke to a couple of people via my new¬†surgery slots and really enjoyed those conversations (community building and the history of networked scholarship!) Once again, I‚Äôm only available in the morning next Wednesday, so book your slot if you want to catch me!
  • Working¬†on the¬†MoodleNet¬†project:
    • Sending¬†out the final survey for the first initial testing period. We’ve had good feedback so far, and we’re looking forward to the second testing period starting next week.
    • Continuing to triage¬†all the suggestions coming in from testers through¬†Changemap.
    • Adding more details to our upcoming sprints towards the beta launch at the UK & Ireland MoodleMoot in April.
    • Spending Thursday and Friday in Barcelona with Gry Stene and Martin Dougiamas discussing strategy. I also discussed data protection with Carlo Polizzi, and hung out with other Moodle colleagues.¬†There was a general strike on Thursday, which was interesting to experience.
  • Encouraged¬†by the interactions within¬†our new¬†Slack-based book club. We were reading the second chapter of¬†of Cal Newport‚Äôs¬†Digital Minimalism and¬†it’s not too late to join us if you’re interested!
  • Putting together¬†things for Thought Shrapnel:

Next week, I’m at home all week working on MoodleNet Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.


Photo taken by me in Barcelona just before sunset on Friday.

Weeknote 07/2019

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out¬†Issue #332¬†of my¬†Thought Shrapnel¬†newsletter. It was entitled,¬†‚ÄėOn social media‚Äô¬†and was, as ever, made possible via those who support me on¬†Patreon.
  • Taking¬†Wednesday again as my consultancy day, and talking to a three people via my new¬†surgery slots. Two of the conversations were about Open Badges and the other one was about digital equity. I’m only available in the morning next Wednesday, so book your slot now!
  • Working¬†on the¬†MoodleNet¬†project:
    • Pushing out¬†an update which has received lots of thumbs-up from testers!
    • Sending¬†out another¬†MoodleNet survey, which led to some very interesting answers to the question of “how would you describe MoodleNet to a friend or colleague?”
    • Continuing to triage¬†all the suggestions coming in from testers through¬†Changemap
    • Getting to grips¬†with¬†Moodle Tracker¬†for defining MoodleNet epics and releases. We’ve also been kicking out random people adding comments…
    • Sorting out¬†pagination on the frontend as well as the backend.
    • Connecting¬†to a¬†live Q&A¬†about MoodleNet as part of the¬†national conference of the Swiss e-Learning Community of Higher Education Institutions.
    • Continuing¬†to figure out MoodleNet security bounties.
    • Discussing¬†approaches to MoodleNet’s integration with Moodle Core (thanks Sander!)
    • Preparing¬†next week’s final survey for the first round of testers, and getting things ready for the 143 testers involved in the second round of testing.
  • Enjoying the experience of reading the introduction and first chapter of Cal Newport’s¬†Digital Minimalism¬†as part of our new Slack-based book club. There’s still time to join if you’re interested!
  • Writing about the demise of Digitalme and following that up by listing¬†10 platforms for issuing Open Badges.
  • Putting together¬†things for Thought Shrapnel:

Next week, I’m going away for a couple of days with my family and taking Monday and Tuesday off work. Then on Wednesday, I’m doing half a day consultancy and half a day for Moodle. Thursday and Friday I’ll be spending in Barcelona for quick trip to the Moodle Spain office!


Photo taken by me at Druridge Bay on Wednesday.

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