Tag: work (page 1 of 25)

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 09/2019

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out Issue #334 of my Thought Shrapnel newsletter. It was entitled, ‘Being where the rubber meets the road is… tyring’ 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 ‘A Climate of Safety’ 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, ‘Bad puns are how eye roll’ 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’m 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’s 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, ‘On social media’ 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.

Weeknote 06/2019

This week I’ve been:

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

Weeknote 05/2019

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out Issue #330 of my Thought Shrapnel newsletter. It was entitled, ‘You’d BETT-er believe it, people’ and was, as ever, made possible via those who support me on Patreon.
  • Recording, editing and releasing Episode 115 of the Today In Digital Education (TIDE) podcast with my co-host Dai Barnes. We entitled this episode ‘Art, milk and parties’ and discussed our experiences at BETT, the history of art, veganism, criticism of Facebook, MoodleNet testing, smartphone-based party games, and more!
  • Working on the MoodleNet project:
    • Feverishly getting things ready for the 100-person initial testing period. We delayed it a bit and then finally went live on Thursday.
    • Publishing a new page at new.moodle.net
    • Rolling back our plans to take over the moodle.net domain after some HQ discussion.
    • Launching the test version of MoodleNet to HQ testers and then the rest of the testing community.
    • Scrambling after deploying an update caused something to fail that only an engineer (at that point asleep in Canada!) could fix.
    • Simultaneously high-fiving one another with one hand and biting our fists with the other.
    • Replying to testers who have been, on the whole, positive.
    • Going through suggestions from testers on Changemap.
    • Smiling at some of the collections that users have created.
    • Filing a bunch of UI issues in GitLab.
    • Getting ready surveys and emails to go to out to testers.
    • Creating a short overview video of what MoodleNet currently looks like – and what we’re looking to quickly improve.
    • Booking travel and accommodation to meet Gry Stene, Moodle’s Chief Product Officer, in Barcelona in late February
  • Telling the world about an idea I’ve got to run weekly surgery appointment slots. They’re free, and I’m happy to discuss pretty much anything!
  • Commenting on Laura’s draft of a post (subsequently published) about We Are Open Co-op raising our sights and being a bit more holistic in our thinking.
  • Putting together things for Thought Shrapnel:
  • Trudging through the snow. It’s been deep and crisp and even in Northumberland over the last couple of days! We’ve had some fun sledging and having snowball fights.
  • Helping my wife migrate from an iPhone (6S) to an Android smartphone (Google Pixel 3). The biggest hassle? WhatsApp chat history 🙄

Next week, I’m working on MoodleNet four days (Mon/Tues & Thurs/Fri) and diving into consultancy stuff on Wednesday. Remember, you can book a slot to have a chat if you think I can help with anything!

Weeknote 04/2019

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out Issue #329 of my Thought Shrapnel newsletter. It was entitled, ‘All is fair in love and Brexit’ and was, as ever, made possible via those who support me on Patreon.
  • Working on the MoodleNet project (Mon-Weds):
    • Preparing for the first pilot test next week. We got 197 applications in English and Spanish, and everyone should now know which ‘list’ they’re on!
    • Collaborating on translations with Julia.
    • Catching up with Carlo, our DPO about data protection.
    • Talking with Bob about Moodle Educator Certificates and Open Badges.
    • Making decisions about what’s in and out of scope for next week. Yes, even at this stage.
  • Meeting with my co-op colleagues from Wednesday night to Friday morning in London.
  • Attending BETT for a few hours on Friday and catching up with various people.
  • Writing a couple of posts on this blog:
  • Catching the Anglo Saxon Kingdoms exhibition at the British Library after I managed to snag a last-minute ticket.

Next week, I’m at home working on MoodleNet all week.

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.

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