Tag: Weeknotes (page 1 of 5)

Weeknote 21/2019

This week has been one of adjustments, for a couple of reasons.

First, my wife is back doing supply teaching, meaning that I have to be more flexible in my working arrangements so that I can drop off and pick up my daughter from school.

Second, two new people joined the MoodleNet team this week, so we’ve take the opportunity to shake things up a bit. Other than me, everyone else on the team will soon be doing 2.5 days per week. So we’ve agreed to have team meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays, doing the bulk of our work together between those times.

This week, however, I was already committed to a co-op day on Wednesday with my We Are Open colleagues. It was enjoyable, even though we were talking about hard things like money. We’ve put a call out for people and organisations to fund Badge Wiki, which you can read about on our blog. Thanks to those who have already stepped up!

Other than that, I’ve helped ship MoodleNet v0.9.3 which is looking good, said goodbye to Alex Castaño, hello to Karen Kleinbauerů and James Laver (our new backend developers), done some planning for future releases, and produced a report for the rest of the Moodle Management team.

After a three month hiatus due to playing the magnificent Red Dead Redemption 2 together, Dai Barnes and I have finally got around to recording another episode of the TIDE podcast. Of course, it didn’t quite go to plan and Dai was called away to deal with a pupil (he lives and works at a boarding school) about halfway through the recording.

I’ve been doing plenty of other stuff as well, including writing for Thought Shrapnel every day (are you supporting that yet?), going geocaching with Scouts, taking my daughter to her first swimming gala, booking a family holiday to Iceland in December to see the northern lights, getting better at FIFA 19 Seasons, finishing Jamie Bartlett’s excellent book The People vs Tech, having my last Moodle coaching session (all of the Management team have had them), and trying to fit in daily exercise.

Next week, it’s half-term, and as I hinted at above I’m moving my non-Moodle from Wednesday to Friday. That means I’ve got a glorious Bank Holiday weekend with the in-laws, before spending Tuesday to Thursday planning with the rest of the Moodle Product Managers. I’m not sure whether that sounds intense or pretty chilled.

Weeknote 19/2019

I’m writing this from sunny Lisbon, where I’ve been at the Creative Commons Summit. I haven’t got the energy to capture all of the things I’ve seen and learned over the past few days, so check out my tweets from the event and the recording of a Virtually Connecting session I contributed to. Perhaps I’ll discuss it during the next episode of the TIDE podcast, as well.

It was great to catch up with Bryan Mathers, whose session on The Fabulous Remixer Machine was excellent. I used his ‘stamp’ remixer to create the image accompanying this post! I took photos of Lisbon too, some of which are here.

This is actually my second trip this week, as I took my son to the Lake District on Sunday evening. On Bank Holiday Monday we climbed Helvellyn and other peaks, as detailed in this post.

It’s actually felt like three trips. You can’t fly direct from Newcastle-upon-Tyne to Lisbon, and I refused to pay the £350 that KLM wanted to fly via Amsterdam. Instead, I used routes recommended to me by Skyscanner to book two Ryanair flights on the way out (via Dublin) and flights via a couple of different airlines on the way back (via Faro). I took the opportunity of a five-hour layover in Dublin on the way out to make a quick visit to the Chester Beatty Library, including sampling the wonderful food on offer at its Silk Road Café.

In terms of Moodle work, over and above making connections and learning at the CC Summit, we’ve released MoodleNet v0.9.2 alpha. We’ve also been interviewing for a new backend developer.

I’m leaving Lisbon tomorrow (Sunday) and get back home in the evening. Next week I’ve got another conference in the form of Thinking Digital. It’s always one of my favourite conferences, which is handy as it’s held at The Sage Gateshead, which is a lot closer to home than some events I go to!

Where are the weeknotes, Doug?

Since publishing my last weeknote at the beginning of March, I’ve published precisely three posts here. It’s funny how, when you get out of a routine, it’s difficult to get it started again. I’m thinking not only of my neglect of my weeknote duties over the past few weeks, but essentially giving up learning Spanish earlier this year as my ‘streak’ on Duolingo came to an end.

I’ve been busy on three fronts over the last couple of months:

  1. Thought Shrapnel — I gave up composing my weekly newsletter for Lent, but ended up spent a long time thinking and researching and writing so I could launch Thought Shrapnel Daily for supporters last week.
  2. Scouts — after stepping up as an Assistant Leader for one of the local groups, a lot of the responsibility has ended up falling on me to organise the programme, etc.
  3. MoodleNet — it’s my day job, sure, but ends up eating into thinking time outside of those hours too.

Meanwhile, subscribers to the TIDE podcast may be wondering why there haven’t been any episodes since the end of February. That’s easy: Dai and I have been playing a lot of Red Dead Redemption 2, one of the greatest games ever created. Instead of pontificating on edtech and the state of the world, we’ve been involved in rooftop shootouts in Western towns. I even streamed some of our gameplay on Twitch.

You know, we keep ourselves busy and feel guilty when we’re not. But, as Caterina Fake points out in a wonderful interview, we should spend some time cultivating our inner life. It’s difficult to do that when everything’s dictated by your calendar and to-do list.

Part of what keeps us busy are tasks that we invent for ourselves. I know that Thought Shrapnel Daily is something I’ve invented that takes hours of my time each week, but these have previously been hours I’ve spent checking Twitter and other social networks. It’s interesting that, when I talk about social networks with friends and colleagues, they feel the same malaise about professional social networking that I do. Perhaps MoodleNet will help with some of that!

It’s now conference season, and I was MC, chaired sessions, presented, and ran a workshop at MoodleMoot UK & Ireland the week before last. Then this week I’ve been at the CoTech Spring Gathering. I’m at home this next week, then I’m off to Lisbon for the Creative Commons Summit. The week after, it’s the Thinking Digital conference.

Now that I’m back in the swing with Thought Shrapnel, I’ll be aiming to resurrect my weeknotes, too. I compose them internally at Moodle as well, and in both situations, people say they’re useful. If only more people took the time to tell people what they’ve been up to.

Weeknote 03/2019

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out Issue #328 of my Thought Shrapnel newsletter. It was entitled, ‘Back at it’ and was, as ever, made possible via those who support me on Patreon.
  • Working on the MoodleNet project (Mon-Thurs:
    • Starting using MoodleNet for internal testing for the first time! Such a great feeling.
    • Preparing, and then presenting to both the Moodle Users’ Association monthly Town Hall meeting and to Moodle HQ colleagues at the All-Hands meeting.
    • Collaborating with Mayel, Alex, and Ivan on both improvements to existing functionality with the internal testing version of MoodleNet.
    • Figuring out some of those details (like discussion threads) that seem simple on the surface, but get a lot more complicated when you start thinking about them in any detail.
    • Meeting with my colleague Garnet who introduced me to a representative of Europeana. I can remember when this fantastic service launched when I was a History teacher. We’re looking at ways of working together.
    • Publishing a blog post linking to sign-up forms to test MoodleNet in both English and Spanish. Thanks to Julia for that!
  • Going for my annual trip to the dentist, who complimented me on my brushing. I didn’t get a sticker, though.
  • Meeting with my co-op colleagues to discuss what we’re doing at our meetup next week. We also talked about our collaborations in 2019. As well as their talents in the world of edtech, Grainne makes soap and Laura writes (maybe?) zombie novels. So it seems pretty obvious to me that they should collaborate on zombie soap, right?
  • Playing Red Dead Redemption 2. What a game! I’d planned to work five days on MoodleNet this week (instead of my usual four), but I stayed up playing this on Thursday, after receiving it earlier in the day. Then, on Friday, I spent the morning writing posts for Thought Shrapnel, and then played RDR2 until my PlayStation controller ran out of battery…
  • Losing my 188-day Spanish streak on Duolingo, which made me sad.
  • Writing a long-ish post on this blog about private education and recording a microcast (for Patreon supporters only!)
  • Colder, as it’s been snowing in Northumberland where I live.
  • Continuing to re-read Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and enjoying it in a newer (2012) translation that I’ve read previously. I also started the audiobook version of Stephen Fry’s Mythos, which I bought over Christmas via Google Play and which I’m listening to in chunks via our new smart speakers (bedroom/kitchen).
  • Starting to plan our holiday in New England in August. We’re flying in and out of Boston, and are looking at the Lonely Planet guide to the area to get our bearings.

Next week, I’m working from home on MoodleNet from Monday to Wednesday, then heading down to London for both a co-op meetup and (once I’ve braced myself), BETT next Friday.


Photo taken by me at Druridge Bay last Sunday, one of my favourite places in the world.

Weeknote 46/2018

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out Issue #324 of my Thought Shrapnel newsletter. It was entitled ‘Two steps forward, one hour back’ and was, as ever, made possible via those who support me on Patreon.
  • Working on the MoodleNet project (Mon-Thurs):
    • Participating in a Moodle branding workshop.
    • Getting ready for our workweek in Barcelona next week (logistics, booking, etc.)
    • Creating ‘job landscapes’ for a couple of potential additions to our team.
    • Finalising our approach to user testing of the sign-up process with Outlandish.
    • Reviewing the stats for the existing moodle.net with Gavin Henrick and Mary Cooch.
    • Adding a bit more detail to the plan about integrating with Moodle Core.
    • Working with Mayel on our approach to bounties for privacy and security testing.
  • Creating videos for CET Israel as part of the Digital Literacy MOOC they’re creating for teachers in Beer Sheva. It involved me buying a green screen and lights, a bit of a learning curve, and lots of editing. While it was intense work to get finished in time, it was enjoyable!
  • Accepting an invitation from Ilona Buchem to an Open Badges workshop in Brussels next month.
  • Recording two microcasts, which are available only to Patreon supporters:
  • Coming second in a pub quiz in aid of Tearfund. I think that I was the youngest there, so had to lean on the other members of my team…

Next week I’m in Barcelona from Sunday evening to Friday night with the rest of the MoodleNet team and, towards the end of the week, Outlandish.

Weeknote 43/2018

This week I’ve been:

Next week I’m in Denver, CO, USA for MoodleMoot US. I get back home on Thursday, when I’ll be working on stuff for CET Israel.


Photo looking up the Thames towards London taken by me during a family trip on the Emirates Air Line on Friday.

Weeknote 36/2018

This week I’ve been:

Next week, I’m working from home on Monday, then in Manchester for the ALT conference from Tuesday to Thursday.


Image from p.118 of the excellent Life in Code by Ellen Ullman

Weeknote 35/2018

This week I’ve been:

  • Working on the MoodleNet project (Mon-Weds):
    • Screening more applicants for the MoodleNet backend developer (Elixir) position.
    • Checking in with Outlandish about UX and front end development.
    • Meeting with Kaye Cheung about branding and the @moodlenet Twitter account.
    • Planning and booking travel/accommodation for an upcoming mini-sprint around front end development with Outlandish in London.
    • Defining sprints up to MVP release.
    • Configuring our GitLab to work as we want it to. We had initially set up sprints as milestones, but are reconfiguring to make it more legible to the community.
    • Creating the first draft of a quarterly team review report which I’ll be finishing off next week.
    • Publicising the first ‘office hours’ for MoodleNet next Thursday. Further details on the blog.
  • Collaborating with my We Are Open colleagues on some upcoming work (Thurs).
  • Joining my family in Devon at the in-laws.
  • Deleting my account on social.coop and reverting to an old account elsewhere on Mastodon.

Next week I’m back working from home working on MoodleNet and participating remotely in a thinkathon for London CLC.

Weeknote 30/2018

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out Issue #313 of my Thought Shrapnel newsletter. This one was called ‘Mootivation’. Thanks to those who back me via Patreon plus those who continue their support via Gumroad!
  • Hot. This week, it’s been around 30°C at times in the North East of England where I live. That’s pretty much unheard of, and given our bedroom is in the loft conversion, I haven’t been sleeping that well. I also got a bit sunburned watching my son at a football tournament all day last Sunday.
  • Working on the MoodleNet project:
    • Finishing off a sprint which was mainly focused on figuring out MoodleNet integration with Moodle Core. There’s still work to be done, but you can see Mayel’s working document here.
    • Collaborating with Outlandish on UX Milestone 2. This has taken up most of my time this week, with daily stand-ups and feedback as to how things should flow from the user’s point of view. We’ll be recording a couple of screencasts next week to show the community.
    • Meeting with Pat Lockley who has project called Solvonauts which searches OER repositories.
    • Writing up an idea around emoji triplets for persistent identity in decentralised networks like MoodleNet.
    • Reflecting on what the MountainMoot organisers do well and what we can learn from them. Also, the notes from the MoodleNet session I ran there are linked from this post.
    • Mocking up what Open Badges in MoodleNet might look like. You can preview them here.
    • Meeting with our Data Protection Officer to discuss what seems like, on the surface, a simple thing to do: add an email address to our draft Code of Conduct. However, there are layers of complexity in decentralised networks — which I think we’ve resolved!
    • Reviewed our use of Changemap (private beta) for community suggestions.
    • Deciding to move from Trello to GitLab issues for planning within the MoodleNet team starting with the sprint that begins on 7th August (i.e. Mayel’s figuring it out while I’m on holiday!)
  • Recording, editing and releasing Episode 105 of the Today In Digital Education (TIDE) podcast with my co-host Dai Barnes. We entitled this episode ‘I dunno… Idaho?’ and discussed emoji triplets, Don Norman’s call for more human-centred technologies, Microsoft OneNote integration with Google Classroom, living in public, and more!
  • Curating interesting things I came across on the Thought Shrapnel blog. This week I collected some quotations and commented on the following:
  • Continuing my streak learning Spanish on on Duolingo. I’m now up to 27 days!
  • Writing posts on my Discours.es blog about things that, for one reason or another, didn’t seem to fit elsewhere:
  • Putting together an introductory guide to Open Badges for a client with other members of our co-op. I’m looking forward to sharing it once complete!

Next week is the last before our family holiday: a European adventure around Europe via plane, train, and automobile! I’m going to be at home working on MoodleNet and some consultancy stuff.


Image by Henry Be released under the Unsplash license

Weeknote 29/2018

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out Issue #312 of my Thought Shrapnel newsletter. This one was called ‘If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Thanks to those who back me via Patreon plus those who continue their support via Gumroad!
  • Working on the MoodleNet project:
    • Travelling – I’ve been in Helena, Montana (USA) at the MountainMoot. There’s lots to learn from this ‘unofficial’ moot in terms of engagement and creating a great vibe. The photo accompanying this post is of Carroll College which is where the moot was held with the Montana mounts in the distance.
    • Running a session at the MountainMoot. The attendance wasn’t high, as you’d expect from an early-stage innovation project up against sessions with more tangible outcomes, but there were some great discussions.
    • Working with Outlandish on the second UX milestone. This one is a bit more tricky as we didn’t discuss many of the features from this milestone at the Design Sprint. Check out our meeting notes from this week’s call. We also came up with the user flow for the screencast demo we’ll produce at the end of this sprint.
    • Updating the MoodleNet white paper to v0.25. This was mainly small tweaks to reflect changes in scope and focus to the project over the last few months.
    • Drafting a proposal for the Mozilla Festival on the theme of ‘decentralisation’. You can see that here.
    • Thinking through an idea around emoji triplets for visually communicating identity when users can change both their username and avatar on a decentralised platform.
    • Reviewing Mayel’s draft document explaining how MoodleNet will integrate with Moodle Core.
  • Curating interesting things I came across on the Thought Shrapnel blog. This week I collected some quotations and commented on the following:
  • Writing posts on my Discours.es blog about things that, for one reason or another, didn’t seem to fit elsewhere:

Next week, I’m going to be at home working on MoodleNet, and in particular UX milestone 2.

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