Students of tomorrow, from yesterday

As part of the efforts to link and connect people virutall during these lockdown and home-working times, I’ve been inolved in a new initiative to link parents together. The idea is for an informal ‘group’ to chat and share tips with each other onhow we’re coping and supporting our children with home schooling.

The first discussion took quite a sharp right turn when some of us started to lament the way our kids have been shown and taught long division. The standard “that’s not how I was taught” and “can anyone explain why long-division doesn’t work anymore?” came up, which made me think of one of my old posts … from 2013 no less!

Thinking Creatively was about a piece I’d read from Anthony Chivetta, written in 2008. You’d think we would have learned and moved on from this by now, wouldn’t you? I shared this section of his post with the group:

“The need to know the capital of Florida died when my phone learned the answer. Rather, the students of tomorrow need to be able to think creatively: they will need to learn on their own, adapt to new challenges and innovate on-the-fly. As the realm of intellectual accessibility expands at amazing rates (due to greater global collaboration and access to information), students of tomorrow will need to be their own guides as they explore the body of information that is at their fingertips. My generation will be required to learn information quickly, use that information to solve new and novel problems, and then present those solutions in creative and effective ways. The effective students of tomorrow’s world will be independent learners, strong problem solvers and effective designers.”

Anthony Chivetta. 2008

We’ve had enough time now to think and reflect on our teaching. Technology has continued to advance and the workd in which our school leavers are entering has changed too. Access to a reliable internet connection is still not a global feature, but it’s getting better. For many the number of internet enabled devices they have access to or own has increased (phones, tablets, games consoles, TVs, etc) but we’re not really doing much in school to maximise their use in the learning.

Or are we? I’m happy to be shown examples where students, of any age, are being encouraged to use the device and the ‘always-on connectivity’ to better and further the learning experience.

Photo by Jesse Martini on Unsplash


Here are my thoughts for 2021, the ‘year after covid’ – we won’t be back to ‘normal’, and we’ll finally stop hearing about a return to ‘normal’ or some form of ‘new normal’.

We’ll finally accept that covid has changed the way we live, shop, work, socialise, travel, exercise, etc. We will finally accept that what we had is gone and we can/must look ahead to working out what we need in this new world and aim towards that instead.

If we don’t, or can’t do that, then we miss the great opportunity to reset so much of our lives that are out of balance – either with each other or out of balance with our world. Accept where we are and how we got here, learn from what happened (the good and the bad), and plan for the future.

For me, 2021 needs to be different and better than we’ve had before. That doesn’t mean better than 2020, or even 2019, but better than we’ve planned or better than we’ve lived. 2021 needs to be to time we re-group, re-evaluate, re-start our lives, together. By realising our strengths and playing to them, and by accepting our weaknesses and learning from them, we can all do our bit to stop the rot, stop the bitterness, and stop the return to a ‘normal’ we didn’t much like to start with.

Photo by Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash

52 things I learned in 2020

Inspired by Tom Whitwell’s annual collection of things learned, here are my ’52 things I learned in 2020′.

The list is usually presented under the comment that ‘no explanation or context of what it is about the article I learned, just a title and link of something that was important to me personally or professionally in [year]’, but this year is different. So very different from previous years.

Clearly, it’s important, for those reading this year(s) in the future, that 2020 saw the Covid-19 pandemic, the culmination of the US election and the UK/Brexit. Many of the articles deliberately focus on my work and personal development, they concentrate on how we work and learn during a global health crisis, in and out of lockdown, etc. If nothing else, this is a great way to see how we thought, and what we thought about, at the different stages of how pandemic developed and progressed (deliberately avoiding most things Brexit or elections, for the sake of my sanity and yours):

  1. ‘Global apathy toward the fires in Australia is a scary portent for the future‘ [David Wallace-Wells]
  2. ‘Kindness doesn’t just make you healthier, It can actually slow aging’ [Jessica Stillman]
  3. ‘How digital activists around the world are trying to change the tone of social media’ [Douglas Quan]
  4. ‘Today I learned that not everyone has an internal monologue and it has ruined my day.’ [Ryan Langdon]
  5. ‘I’ve worked in a ‘virtual office’ for 3 years – here’s what I’ve learned’ [Mitch Robinson]
  6. ‘Could micro-credentials compete with traditional degrees?’ [Anisa Purbasari Horton]
  7. ‘Why Amazon knows so much about you’ [Leo Kelion]
  8. ‘What should universities do to prepare for COVID-19 coronavirus?’ [Doug Clow]
  9. ‘Is our relationship with digital technology true love or an unhealthy obsession?’ [Rachel Drinkwater]
  10. ‘Surviving to thriving’ [Doug Belshaw]
  11. ‘Covid-19 could cause a permanent shift towards home working’ [Alex Hern]
  12. ‘Coaching is even more important in a time of crisis’ [Ian Day]
  13. ‘The Critical Points: The upsides of quarantine’ [Richard Kerr]
  14. ”I can’t get motivated’: the students struggling with online learning’ [Rachel Hall and David Batty]
  15. ‘But somehow the vital connection is made’ [WonkHE]
  16. ‘A Whole New (Remote) World’ [Diane Gaa]
  17. ‘Coronavirus could revolutionize work opportunities for people with disabilities’ [Lisa Shur and Douglas Kruse]
  18. ‘The COVID-19 pandemic has changed education forever. This is how’ [Cathy Li and Farah Lalani]
  19. ‘Why ‘Let Me Know How I Can Help’ Doesn’t Work for Introverts’ [Bret Serbin]
  20. ‘This is how music helps us get through difficult times’ [Emily Ansari]
  21. ‘Students should be partners not passengers in the Covid community recovery’ [Ben Vulliamy]
  22. ‘Is Work-From-Home Productivity A Mirage?’ [Peter Bendor-Samuel]
  23. ‘Sorry Not Sorry: Online Teaching Is Here to Stay’ [Flower Darby]
  24. ‘The Disease of More’ [Mark Mason]
  25. ‘These are the 10 most discussed tech topics during COVID-19’ [Stephen Robnett and Trey Sexton]
  26. ‘Not desking is the horrendous new hot-desking hell that awaits us all’ [Bruce Daisley]
  27. ‘Fixing education during the pandemic means fixing an uneasy relationship with technology’ [Robert Pianta and Bart Epstein]
  28. ’15 historical predictions on what life would be like in 2020′ [Claudia Lyman]
  29. ‘Screw finding your passion’ [Mark Manson]
  30. ‘More than 100 scientific journals have disappeared from the Internet’ [Diana Kwon]
  31. ‘#100DaysToOffload’ [Kev Quirk]
  32. ‘How to (Actually) Save Time When You’re Working Remotely’ [Lauren Howe, Ashley Whillans, and Jochen Menges]
  33. ‘Connectivity and Dis-junction in the Post-Pandemic University: Preliminary Thoughts’ [Fadia Dakka]
  34. ‘Students don’t know what’s best for their own learning’ [Arthur Poropat]
  35. ‘Content and Design Are Inseparable Work Partners’ [Jared Spool]
  36. ‘Why our ocean could hold the best solutions to climate change’ [Emily Kelly and Elena Perez]
  37. ‘Learning Is a Learned Behavior. Here’s How to Get Better at It.’ [Ulrich Boser]
  38. ‘The race to find and stop viruses that could cause the next pandemic’ [David Adam]
  39. ‘Why Memorizing Stuff Can Be Good For You’ [Natalie Wexler]
  40. ‘Wicked problems: are universities really prepared to grow in the next decade?’ [Mark Corver and Debbie McVitty and Tim Blackman]
  41. ‘Is time on the side of learning?’ [Neil Mosley]
  42. ‘Working from home was the dream but is it turning into a nightmare?’ [John Naughton]
  43. ‘Netflix’s Unlimited Vacation Policy Took Years to Get Right. It’s a Lesson in Emotional Intelligence’ [Justin Bariso]
  44. ‘A hybrid education format is sticking around. Here’s how we can improve the model’ [Anant Agarwal]
  45. ‘These 5 Rules Will Help You Work More Productively at Home’ [Nicole Avery]
  46. ‘University leaders come together for new digital strategy framework’ [JISC]
  47. ‘How People With Disabilities Help The Economy Grow And Thrive’ [Robyn Shulman]
  48. ‘Gaming might actually be good for your wellbeing, study suggests’ [Amy Barrett]
  49. ‘2020 has tested our humanity. Where do we go from here?’ [Phillip Morris]
  50. ‘How animals choose their leaders, from brute force to democracy’ [Brian Handwerk]
  51. ’25 moments in tech that defined the past 25 years’ [Fast Company Staff]
  52. ‘(Over)working from home: Why we need to get better at switching off when in remote mode’ [Rhodri Marsden]
  53. BONUS – ‘NASA’s Hubble Telescope Captures a Rare Metal Asteroid Worth 70,000 Times the Global Economy’ [Rachel Cormack]

unsplash-logoLucija Ros

Battleships (14) / #100DaysToOffload

One thing is for certain, I’m getting more and more grumpy and bad-tempered as I read more and more about the lockdown, missed chances at preventing the spread of Covid, the uselessness of those who are supposed to be protecting the country (not profiting from it), and the endless doomscrolling I find myself caught up in.

Which is why I’m spending more time offline, either reading or playing a board game with my kids. By the way, I get distracted very easily so I find board games hard to focus and actually want to play. But I love playing Battleships.

I played it with my brother and Dad, I played it with friends (even after I got my first computers) and we took it on family trips. I was always jealous of that one friend who had the electronic version, although it was the same game, just with an added light show and simple, early 8-bit sound effects.

No, I don’t always win. Yes, there have been times I’ve cheated to let my kids win (when they first started playing). No, it’s not a waste of time. Yes, we have fun and have competitions and a leaderboard.

Fun times, unplugged, and with my family. Doesn’t get any better than that!

Photo by Darren Nunis on Unsplash

How L&D Teams Can Design A Virtual Learning Journey That Delivers Seamless Training Results

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the workplace dynamics, and we now witness the “new normal” of remote operations. In this article, I share 6 strategies that L&D teams can use to design their virtual learning journey and deliver seamless training results.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Your logo here

Are you sure the website, blog, news site you read is impartial and not writing from a perspective or an influence of a paying advertiser, partner, supplier, etc?

No, me neither. I have a list of trusted blogs I look to all the time, not only for reflections and experiences in and around learning or education, but also for insightful or strategic views on the current and changing education ‘market’.

Despite my about page having a clear guest/advertiser statement of “I do not accept guest posts, nor do I use ghostwriters or accept payment for adverts or copy in old posts. Please don’t bother asking, I will not reply to your email”, I am constantly emailed asking to accept either a guest post or consider inserting their content into an old post clearly one that scores well on a search engine).

The current focus and state of education and learning during the global pandemic seems to have piqued al ot peoples interest … the requests for adverts in an old post or a ‘payment’ to reproduce an article on my site in exchange for a link to theirs are coming in thick and fast at the moment.

So, to be clear. I write all my own posts. Any post you don’t like is your fault, but my words. Any gap in posting is down to me and whether (a) I have anything to write, (b) I have the time to write it, or (c) I can be bothered to write. I do not accept copy from anyone else. I will not change this view.

Thank you for your interest, but this is my place for my views, my experiences, and my reflections.

[Photo by Kate Trysh on Unsplash]

52 things I learned in 2018

Inspired by Tom Whitwell annual collection of things learned, here are my ’52 things I learned in 2018′.

No explanation or context of what it is about the article I learned, just a title and link of something that was important to me personally or professionally in 2018.

I’ve also removed any of the tracking text from the links (eg “?utm=share…” stuff). You know, for best practice and the like.

Admitedly, I’m writing this in late February 2020, but I’ve reviewed my posting history on Twitter and LinkedIn for 2018, and here are the stand-out articles:

  1. ‘The end of solitude: overtaken by technology’ [Arnie Kozak]
  2. ‘The good, the bad and the ugly in learning technologies’ [Maria Tannant]
  3. ‘Alexa, who’s in charge of my life – me or you?’ [Rhik Samadder]
  4. ‘Investment in learning’ [Barry Johnson]
  5. ‘How to collaborate effectively if your team is remote’ [Erica Dhawan]
  6. ‘Humility: A reflection on social leadership’ [Julian Stodd]
  7. ‘This Is how Generation Z will bypass college’ [Ryan Jenkins]
  8. ‘How to protect your privacy on your smart home devices’ [Jacob Kleinman]
  9. ‘When work is like a battlefield’ [Sita Naquia Abdul Rahim]
  10. ‘Old technologies don’t die’ [Steve Wheeler]
  11. ‘Is social media causing childhood depression?’ [Jane Wakefield]
  12. ‘Faceswapping, unethical videos, and future shock’ [Tom Scott – video]
  13. ‘From car insurance to banking, a new digital age is dawning ‘ [Juliet Stott]
  14. ‘The process is the the product’ [George Couros]
  15. ‘Why practical skills will matter more than your degree in the new economy’ [Rick Wartzman]
  16. ‘How to ‘poison’ your data before you delete Facebook’ [Christina Bonnington]
  17. ‘Six ingredients for the successful virtual classroom’ [Clive Shepherd]
  18. ‘How to help young people (and adults) unplug and engage’ [Scott Carlson]
  19. ‘Google founder Sergey Brin promises to protect humanity from AI’ [Simon Sharwood]
  20. ‘The semester’s ending. Time to worry about our flawed course evaluations’ [Karen Kelsky]
  21. ‘Say goodbye to the Information Age: it’saAll about reputation now’ [Gloria Origgi]
  22. ‘Production values: do they really matter?’ [Clive Sheherd]
  23. ‘Downloading music is more archaic than owning vinyl’ [Ann-Derrick Gaillot]
  24. ‘Forget Your “job.” Define your “calling.”’ [Jim McCarthy]
  25. ‘Forget that product you’re working on. What’s really going to sell in the future Is … services’ [Andrew Medal]
  26. ‘We need a new curriculum for tomorrow’s world’ [Mary Bousted]
  27. ‘The underlying reason you can’t focus’ [Caroline Beaton]
  28. ‘The psychological tricks TfL uses to make London’s tube feel faster’ [Nicola Kobie]
  29. ‘This email from a Chief Executive is a master class in emotional intelligence’ [Julian Bariso]
  30. ‘ZX Spectrum reboot scandal: Directors quit, new sack effort started’ [Gareth Corfield]
  31. ‘The tyranny of GDPR popups and the websites failing to adapt’ [Matt Burgess]
  32. ‘Working in HE – an alienating labour of love?’ [Richard Hall]
  33. ‘Do you answer the phone?’ [Mario Aguilar]
  34. ‘The information war is on. Are we ready for it?’ [Dennis MacDonald]
  35. ‘What makes an educational video game work well?’ [Peter Dizikes]
  36. ‘Big data architecture: navigating the complexity’ [Mary Shacklett]
  37. ‘The stupidity of the crowd’ [Olga Khazan]
  38. ‘6 reasons gamification improves cybersecurity training’ [Michael Kassner]
  39. ‘5 things I’m telling my kids to prepare them for the future’ [Stephanie Kasriel]
  40. ‘Do you live to work or work to live?’ [Jodi Michael]
  41. ‘The Future of Education: Online, Free, and With AI Teachers?’ [Simon Erickson]
  42. ‘Open floor plans should be killed with fire — or sound’ [William Watterson]
  43. ‘Librarians to the rescue! A brief history of heroic bibliophiles’ [Sian Cain]
  44. ‘Make better promises’ [Seth Godin]
  45. ‘Ask these 10 questions to understand the real truths about a company culture’ [Emily Moor-Glassdoor]
  46. ‘State of the smart: the development of the smart campus in HE’ [Charley Rogers]
  47. ‘Innovation and disruption within student information systems’ [Eric Stoller]
  48. ‘Say less, heard more’ [George Couros]
  49. ‘Burnout, stress lead more companies to try a four-day work week’ [Emma Thomasson]
  50. ‘Violating our privacy is in Facebook’s DNA’ [Siva Vaidhyanathan]
  51. ‘I have forgotten how to read’ [Winnie T Frick]
  52. ‘Making connections that count’ [Karen Wickre]
unsplash-logoJoshua Eckstein


January has (finally) passed. It’s February. It feels like a new start, so here’s a question for for:

“What do you need today to help you focus on your task?”

As part of the thinking environments training, we often use questions like this at the start of team meetings to engage everyone in the room, to encourage everyone to speak out at the start, thus giving them a voice throughout the meeting and an opportunity to be heard. The question, like this one, should not be invasive or too personal (unless the responder wants to include a personal viewpoint) but can also be informative for those around the table.

So, what do ou need today to help you focus on your ‘task’? How would you answer this today?

Photo by Elena Taranenko on Unsplash

Expert opinion: Learning trends for 2020

You remember what I said in this post about not writing any posts about ‘education/learning trends in [insert year here]’? Yeah. About that. I wrote something for a post called “10 E-learning Trends that will Dominate in 2020

The article, from Anthea Papadopoulou, calls out “so many [eLearning] ‘so-called experts’ … promising you one-week success, and opportunities that fall from the sky.” The reality, as Anthea continues, is that “it requires a lot of hard work, study, experimentation, and persistence. You need to be continuously informed about the new trends in eLearning so that you can keep up with new students.” From this position, they reached out to ten different “eLearning experts” and asked us what we believe to be trends for 2020.

“Their answers reveal exciting new trends that will change the e-learning scene given that we will do a really hard work to provide amazing learning experiences and stand out in the e-learning field.”

I’m honoured to be listed among notable and respected colleagues such as Jeff Cobb, Christopher Pappas, Panos Siozos, Poppy Hill, Phil Mayor, Craig Weiss, Ryan Tracey, Bill Brandon and Barbara Anna Zielonka.

Here’s what I wrote (spelling and grammar mistakes corrected) under the heading “Emphasis on the Instructional Designer“:

“Technology comes and goes, as do many of the providers and platforms organisations and learning professionals learn to rely on (e.g. read Audrey Watters’ ‘The 100 Worst Ed-Tech Debacles of the Decade‘ review).

What is constant, or rather what should be constant, through these changes is our attention to clarity and quality when producing the learning materials. From translating original content to the appropriate adoption and use of the technology to deliver the training. What is more important than everything in this process is the learning/ instructional/educational designer [insert your own job title here]. This individual is the unsung hero in many organisations – often the last link in the chain before the training is released, often the last one in the office, beavering away to complete the learning, often the only one who spots inconsistencies in materials and terminology. This individual, and the support and guidance they need, is going to be very important in learning and development for 2020 (and beyond) as organisations learn just what a wide variety of skill, creativity and capability is possible when their designers are properly supported.

In short, my ‘trend’ to look out for in 2020 is the person(al). Where the individual becomes the focus of the learning experience, not the technology delivering it. This includes the student too. Technology still has a part to play, but the focus is on how we support the creation of learning materials which use this technology.

Closing my contribution to the article, the people over on Learn Worlds included the following infographic (I’ve not posted one of those for over 5 years!!).

Source: So What Do You Really Mean By ‘Instructional Designer?
Source: So What Do You Really Mean By ‘Instructional Designer?
First seen on the EdSurge website, October 2015.

Photo by Deepain Jindal on Unsplash

What is normal?

I saw something on Twitter that made me think back to a billboard ad I saw back when I worked in Southampton, around 2001.

What made me think of it? Well, how about I tell you about the advert first. It showed, on something like a 50ft wide / 20ft tall billboard at the side of the road I cycled past everyday, a woman’s face, close up. She was attractive, wearing make-up (but not heavy) and her hair tied back, out of her face. The advert had a solid single-colour background, which didn’t detract attention from her face. On one side of her was the question “Is this face normal?”. You were meant, I think, to look at her face and think about her facial features (nose, eyes, laughter-lines, make-up, etc). Was she ‘normal’, based on your own preconceived notion of ‘normal’ (and attractive, no doubt). Most people would probably say yes, she was.

On the other side of the advert, however, were statistics about what people thought would be considered skin ‘abnormalities’, like freckles, pimples, beauty-spots, laugher-lines, visible facial birth marks, scars, etc. Statistics like “50% of women have freckles” or “20% of women have visible facial birth-marks’ or “25% of women under the age of 30 have laughter-lines”. That kind of thing – nothing out of the ordinary, nothing scary or abnormal in the slightest. But it challenged your preconceived notion of what is accepted as ‘normal’.

This advert had such resonance with me as it made me question ‘what is normal?’ It made me question my own preconceptions of normal, of accepted ‘beauty’, but also about not taking someone else’s instruction on what normal should be. You looked at the advert and thought, probably, that this face was normal, when to be without any kind of facial ‘feature’ like freckles or pimples or beauty-marks or anything meant you were (according to the sum of the statistics) among the 0.5% of the population with ‘perfect’ skin. Therefore, nowhere normal, in any meaning of the word (“Conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern”). Therefore, what you think is ‘normal’ is the total opposite. What is normal is actually abnormal, outside the norm.

This is why I don’t like it when I hear about a student profile, or any kind of ‘normal’, attributed to those we work with or work for. There isn’t a ‘normal’ profile for a student on your course. Even if you have a highly specialised course with a small group of students coming from a small specialised industry and background, I’m betting their individual experiences and backgrounds that brought them to you. They will still be varied and interesting, reading at different speeds, taking notes (or not), questioning you or accepting without question. Not one will have the same ability to be critical, or to research at the same speed, or to write. They are not the ‘normal’ you’ve prepared for.

Let’s not design for an accepted ‘normal’. Let’s embrace a new ‘normal’ which is as varied as the number of people out there. The new ‘normal’ is everyone. It’s a challenge and not one we can do in isolation, rather in collaboration with our audience.

unsplash-logoKyle Glenn