Wednesday, August 8, 2012

rss feeds

I had a  conversation with Lisa Featherstone of JISC TechDis recently about RSS feeds and podcasts and the fact that although those of us who know about them and use them think the technology is the bees' knees, chances are your neighbour on the street doesn't understand it. They don't know how it can enrich their lives. How did we get to the point where the RSS logo is everywhere, but so few people use the technology? We didn't have that problem with email, did we?
Maybe it's to do with RSS readers. Browsers are a way into the web, we all know that, but even then, most people don't know their Firefoxes from their Googles (What's the difference? Isn't it all just Google?). They might double-click on IE to go to Google but to them, they've just gone to Google. The fact that there are different browsers is confusing. So adding RSS readers into the mix is just asking for trouble.

Then there's the whole debate about where RSS is going. Some of the big names are starting to share less : which is a worrying trend. When I was in a training session recently, teaching the teachers how to use RSS to grab content into Moodle, they loved the idea, and could also see how useful it would be in their daily lives.

So, talking about how useful RSS is, if you don't currently subscribe to James Clay's elearning stuff podcasts, why not? An example episode here starring myself and Dave Sugden: podcast #080

Monday, August 6, 2012

RSC Eastern e-Fair 5 July

I was invited to deliver a keynote at the RSC Eastern e-Fair at West Herts College on 5th July and I chose to use the title 'Standing on the shoulders of giants', partly because it was an Olympic-themed event, and partly because I wanted to acknowledge that all our fantastic ideas, tools and technologies for learning have come about as a result of the creativity and vision of others before us. We have such easy-pickings with the plethora of tools available for our use, we almost have a new problem - what to use, how to use it effectively and how do we get ready for the next thing?

The keynote can be accessed from the RSC Eastern web site:

and my slides can be accessed at

From the feedback that I received from the delegates who came to talk to me, the picture of the desire path, more than anything, really hit home the idea that we were perhaps laying down systems, structures and ways of access that weren't the ones that our learners wanted to use. There is so much that we need to learn from other areas like psychology, motivation, procrastination, flow, addiction, cognitive behavioural therapy etc. I've certainly found that my range of 'giants' are not just e-learning experts like Maria Andersen (@busynessgirl) and Tom Barrett (@TomBarrett) but also people like Martin Seligman (Positive Psychology) and Daniel Pink (and his Motivation 3.0 ideas). My list of people keeps growing as one thing leads to another and I'm loving this connected world of learning and development, so much so that I have now committed to gaining my CMALT qualification (but more on that another time).

@xlearn with @joedale
It's a real privilege and pleasure to be invited to share my musings with my peers.  And it's a real bonus to meet with one of my 'giants' in the flesh: @joedale !!

I was also very taken with the ideas of the 'cottage industry' exhibitors, Tabtoob and eScreens, who shared a stand demonstrating their simple product ideas. These people were motivated enough by their ideas that they turned it into reality and a business. We could all do with their entrepreneurial spirit rubbing off on us!

West Herts College was one of my MoLeNET colleges, so I was pleased to meet up with familiar faces like Andrew Wakeford and Charlie Williams (the latter from Oaklands College). As always, when I get the chance to find out where people have travelled on their e-learning journeys, I learn new things or get reminded of paths that I have forgotten about. I love these triggers and although I get almost too many of them on Twitter, there's nothing quite like having a real chat with real people, to reinvigorate you and top up your enthusiasm meter!!

And so it was that the serendipitous after dinner discussion (the night before the event) was like a quenching of a deep thirst that I didn't even realise I had - to reconnect face to face with colleagues who have journeyed with me for years was like reaching an oasis in a desert (Ron Mitchell @Ronm123, Alistair McNaught @alistairm, Shri Footring @shrifootring). Along with Thomas Rochford, our conversation meandered from topics like waves and oscillations to culture and teaching. It just flowed!! It would have made an epic podcast and I'm sorry to say that we missed a great opportunity to share that with anyone who might want to listen, and I didn't even take a picture! I was too immersed in the moment to digitise it, I'm afraid! But it made me determined to get more of my colleagues together in future for networking and updating sessions like this - we almost don't get enough of an opportunity anymore with the demise of so many of the national training programmes.

So a month on, and for me, the highlights of the e-Fair were:
  • the unflappable and lovely RSC Eastern staff who pulled out all the stops to organise a great event, with the provision of a diary room, QR code treasure hunt, prizes, humour, showmanship...
  • the great venue - West Herts College's new buildings looked and felt like a great learning space, very inspiring for the learners and staff coming through their doors
  • the enthusiasm of all the people running workshops, show and tells, and exhibition stands - they were so pleased to share what they knew and to expand the knowledge of others
  • the warmth and friendliness of the delegates, who gave lots of feedback and engaged with everything that day
  • the connections and re-connections with people, reminding me that there is a layer of communication that cannot be digitised and put into 140 characters or a recording.
Thank you very much @rsceastern for asking me to be there. The pleasure was all mine :-)