Patterns in Course Design: How instructors ACTUALLY use the LMS

Es sind sicher keine überraschenden Nachrichten, aber sie kommen von Blackboard selbst, dem größten kommerziellen Lernplattformanbieter im Hochschulbereich. Dort hat man sich einmal die Nutzung der eigenen Plattform - “Blackboard Learn” in Nordamerika - näher angeschaut und dabei fünf Verhaltensmuster festgestellt. Das Resultat: “The first two course archetypes account for over three-quarters of the courses analyzed, and primarily use the LMS to provide students with access to course materials.” Das wird bei Moodle, so darf man vermuten, nicht anders aussehen.
John Whitmer, Blackboard Blog, 27. Oktober 2016


Reading list: November 27th, 2015

Two weeks ago I posted a short list of a few of the more interesting articles or blog posts I’d been reading. I intend to keep this up, hopefully every fortnight (so it’s not too onerous for me to write or for you to read).

Here’s my second list:

I’ve also started reading the following books – both are well worth your attention!

  • Donald H Taylor: Webinar Master
    “A step-by-step guide to delivering compelling online presentations from a webinar expert and coach.”
  • Ed Catmull: Creativity Inc
    “Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration”

Image source: Bernal Saborio (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Don’t give it to me unless I can customise it

My first car was a 1993 Rover Mini Cooper 1.3i, in British Racing Green (obviously). I bought it second hand in ’97 from John Cooper Garages (JCG) in West Sussex, and the legendary John Cooper himself handed my the keys (and made my mum a cup of tea while I did the paperwork).

Like so many people who own a Mini it didn’t stay ‘standard’ for very long, as I read through the Mini magazines on the kinds of things I could do to personalise the car. I went to Mini events, like the London-to-Brighton Mini Run and the 40th anniversary party at Silverstone, and looked over the show cars and private cars that were parked up, as well as the stands and auto-jumble traders. I bought the whole set of JCG brushed aluminium door furniture (window winders, door pulls, etc.) and chrome accessories (bling!), as well as doing more mechanical upgrades like vented discs and four-pot calliper for both front and read brakes, and a full-length straight-through (manifold to rear ‘box) DTM-style exhaust system (ooh, that was awesome!).

This was the start of my love affair with tinkering and messing with anything that’s standard to make it personal for what and how I like it. 

At the same time as mod’ing my Mini I also started to work in web design. Here I worked with HTML code and WYSIWYG editors. I constantly tried new designs and different approaches to layout, colours, structure, brand implementation, etc. I was customising what I could, using tools and ideas around me. If I saw a website I liked I’d look at the code, see how it was done, and try it for myself. Then I’d improve it to work how I wanted it to, where I wanted it, and why I wanted it.

Fast forward to 2007 when I joined Bournemouth University (BU) as a Learning Technologist and started working with the likes of Blackboard, TurningPoint, Echo360, etc. Note how I use names of the companies rather than more generic tool names like VLE, audience response, lecture capture? These were systems I had to use out-of-the-box (i.e. no personalisation or customisation), as were other systems within BU. I had opportunities to be more creative and enterprising in other fields and other aspects of my work, but these were highly controlled and locked-down systems that offered little ability to personalise or customise.

For something like Blackboard I had to work in the defined structure and implementation of the installation, but I settled in to it because I had the ability to use it creativity when it came to different approaches to presenting learning materials, online activities, offline resources. I worked with some amazing people in the Business School to develop innovative (for us, at least) assessment techniques (group working, case studies, multimedia, time constrained papers, Box of Broadcasts, etc.) and different ways to utilise and customise Blackboard within the structure of a defined and prescribed ‘default template’.

Today I still have to work within constraints of learning management systems, both internally at Warwick and externally with, for example, FutureLearn. Sometimes the rigidity frustrates me (whilst I fully appreciate the reason for it) and sometimes it’s a welcome boundary with which I can fall back on as a base-line to build on/from. I use WordPress on a number of hosted and self-hosted websites (like this one and my 100 books project), which gives me some freedom to customise how and what I present, although I admit to leaving the innards well alone in case it gets messed up with the next WordPress update.

Customisation, for me, has been key to my own development and understanding of what kind of learning technologist I want to be. Yes, a defined and rigid system is needed in order for it work for everyone, all the time. Yes, the boundaries are required in order that, for example, students. Yes, it annoys me when systems change without warning or without input from the users (e.g. Twitter ‘like’ option), whether they’re free social systems or expensive VLEs (has anyone ever had timely updates to problems identified in Blackboard? How long did you have to wait for the next ‘patch’ which would fix it? Months? Years?).

This customisation has spilled over into other aspects of my life too. I’ve customised by smartphone with a custom cover, I’ve got stickers over the back of my tablet, but this isnt’ really customising the device, just changing the look of it. Yes, I can move apps around and group them together how I think I want to use the, but this isn’t customising it, is it. I think the last time I customised a computing device was when I opened my old ZX Spectrum and did something inside (add extra RAM, I can’t remember).

I’ve loved reading about projects recently where people have ‘hacked’ furniture and repurposed them. Over the festive break this year we’ll be doing this too as a present to our boys (aged 5 and 6), using Ikea Kallax shelving units as base and storage area under a bed, also providing a play space underneath for the kids. For my other boy we’re going to hack his bunk bed and make a fort (like this, but not as full-on – I know my limits). We’re also looking at different ways to create outdoor living space in the garden from different structures – how about a railway carriage (within reason, not sure my neighbours want a full-size one in the garden, even if it did fit!)?

Something else I’ve customised is the humble photo frame. Taking a standard 3-photo frame I removed the glass and stuck a couple of flat Lego base-units in each frame. Each month, sometimes more often, we take it down and the boys make something new to put in each aperture. Again, it wasn’t something I thought could be customised, but now I know I can I love it and see other standard objects in a way that makes me think about how I can customise it, make it work better, for me.

I have also customised my own learning. I use my network (PLN) on social sharing platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. to not only source topics or articles or research or courses that interest me, but also to engage with them (you!) as I read, learn, interact, engage, and progress through the resource(s). I’ve taken part in a number of MOOCs now (#OpenBadgesMOOC and #ocTEL and #EDCMOOC) and have enjoyed the experiences, both positive and negative. I can pick up these courses up pretty much when I please, and drop them if something else takes my attention. Being flexible allows me to fit more into my life. You might say it diverts my attention too much (you could be right) but if it works, and I’m learning new things about new subjects that benefit me personally and professionally, then why not? Shouldn’t more of us be doing it? I haven’t taken a formal course since my PG Cert in 2010, and that was the first real formal training since I graduated in ’96. I was planning on taking the MSc in Learning Innovation from Leicester, but was actually glad it didn’t run in the end; I’m just not ready ,or interested enough, to dedicate that much time to a formal course. Plus the fact I don’t think I want the formality a course like that dictates anymore.

I want / like the informality of connecting with people through online networks – it’s become a standard to how I think, being able to take something and mould to my needs. Finding new people or resources that go someway to fulfilling my needs is almost expected these days, and the ability to take it and adapt it (with proper attribution, of course!) is the norm.

That’s me: customising what I can to make it ‘work’ for me.

Image source: Daniel Go (CC BY-NC 2.0)

What makes a good online learning experience?

Is it possible to define the qualities of what makes a good online learning experience, or a good MOOC? Is there a check list we could have pinned to the wall which we could use as we design and build our courses?

Here’s a few items I think the list needs, feel free to add your own ideas in the comments field below:

Presentation: Is the student able to relate to the subject and the presenter / educator? This is not always easy as the platform (Blackboard, Moodle, FutureLearn, Udacity, etc.) often controls how the materials are ‘presented’. Even with these constraints you do have options on designing your materials and laying them out in ways which make them easy to navigate or interact with. 

Accessible: Yes, there is web accessibility, but there is also ‘how easy is it to find your way around the materials’. Are there signposts in place at different points of the course to extra reading, areas for interaction and engagement, contact details, schedules, assessment points, etc.?

Interaction: You will probably have specific pinch-points in the course where you have designed and expect interactivity, but remember that students may want to interact or comment on other resources as they work their way through your materials. Consider adding functionality to enable students to do this (a dedicated forum for questions,or comments on each step?) and that someone from the course team will monitor these areas and is ready (and able?) to reply where necessary.

Connection: Remember that your students are not only geographically dispersed, but will have a range of learning styles, backgrounds, and availability. Not everyone can join your online chat or webinar at a certain time every week (it’s likely they work and have family commitments that take priority), just like they may not be able to access materials due to firewall issues. Distance learning students often say they don’t feel connected or part of the University or course because of these distances, so think about including some getting-to-know-you or group activities, give them opportunities to meet each other (virtually) and grow their own learning network (PLN).

Build for online: Re-using the same materials and design for an online course that you teach face-to-face will probably not work. Your existing materials and activities are designed with you as a focal point, where you can introduce, explain, highlight, and support students in a real-time environment. Online, things are different. Students will access and interact with the materials and each other asynchronously, therefore there will be delays between posts, requests, etc. of days or even weeks. Providing a link to a resource (PDF, PPT, etc.) should not be done even with face-to-face students (contextualise it, explain what it is and why they need it) and it’s even worse for learners at a distance: introduce each step and resources, explain what it is and why the student needs it, and provide an action to it (read, discuss, critique, analyse, share, etc.) to give it meaning.

Platform: Know what functionality your platform has (Blackboard, Moodle, FutureLearn, Udacity, etc.) and what you can use, where, and why. Consider each tool you’ll use to present materials as well as ask for engagement, and be sure the students have adequate instruction to use them if they’re new. Don’t use every tool in the box for the sake of making the course seem ‘modern’ or ‘interactive’ if there is no reason to do so. At the same time don’t ignore the tools available to you, just because you don’t know what they do – go find your Learning Technologist (or equivalent) and work with them during the process of designing your course – they’ll help you think about different tools or techniques available, explain what benefits they can offer you and your students, and help you implement and support them.

Value: For some this will be value of resources, for others it’ll be quality of videos produced and used. Consider each stage of the course, each resources you’ve included (core or recommended) and think about whether it is adding value to the learning experience, or not. If it’s going to cause a distraction, drop it. if it’s interesting but tangental to the learning journey, then consider moving to an area that students can go if they want more information.

Visual elements: Don’t forget that images or diagrams  (infographics?) can help showcase an idea, concept, or theory just as much as words can. Not everything need an image, but something that could link or help structure the course materials may well aid students and their understanding of the subject.

Journey: The learning journey should not just be about getting from the start to the assessment (and passing). There should be goals set at different pinch points where students can show understanding or critical evaluation of themselves and the materials. I prefer courses that don’t have exams (that’s because I always did badly under exam conditions) and alternative ways of assessment should be explored. Admittedly there are restrictions on what you can and can’t do with assessments that are possibly based on the platform, programme, or QAA (Quality Assurance Agency), but we shouldn’t stop thinking about improving and enhancing the learning journey and learning experience with different assessment methods.

Time: Do you make resources and materials available all at once or release them over a published time frame? Do you allow students to work ahead of the rest or keep them back so they engage at the same time as everyone else? Do you have objectives or webinars that require synchronous learning; what do you do if these don’t meet with individual and personal schedules? Do you provide alternatives?

Testing: Never underestimate how much time testing your course should take, and always get someone who has not worked on it to try it out. Test links, embedded media, tools, logins, interactions, assessments, etc. from both the view of how the students will view and interact with them, and how the course team (academic and administrative) will support your students.

What makes a good online course?

Image source: Kristina Alexanderson (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


Reading: Learner engagement in MOOCs

After attending a FutureLearn partners webinar about designing online courses, the age-old issue of encouraging and engaging learners in online communication came up. It made me reflect on my past posts about online learning, specifically this one: MOOCs – 9 points on what I like, and what I don’t. If you want to go and read it before carrying on, be my guest.

Hurry back!

Glad you came back. What annoys me about MOOCs, and some people who design online courses in general, is the assumption that everything you build will be used, and be used the way you want it to be used. VLEs are somewhat to blame for the apathy or lack of engagement in online activities, especially discursive or forums or comment sections – you’re locked into one specific tool for engagement. But this is not the whole reason the activity will fail. Sometimes the forum or comment or discussion board is the wrong tool for the intended learning / communication. Sometimes  it is the right tool that’s just been abused and not supported.

From my above post Carolyn from MoocLab commented about one of her articles, and I admit to being remiss and not reading it until now – Why MOOC forums fail to deliver. So much of this rings true for me today, notably the following sections:

“Forum management and content are key. Successful forums have active forum administrators and moderators whose job it is to encourage discussion, moderate and organise the content, carefully plan and add meaningful content themselves.”

How do you monitor or manage upwards of 10,000 comments? This is not a conversation that has 10,000 contributions, it’s an area online where people can leave comments (like FaceBook), some meaningful, some banal. Do I, as a learner or course manager, have to trawl through 1,000s of versions of “I agree” or “Yes” to find one or two entries where actual learning has taken place? Even a dedicated course owner or manager or mentor is not going to do that, so don’t expect a time-strapped learner to do so.

My experience of a forum is that there are threads and discussions on each thread (normally). I do not know of any MOOC platforms that have a forum like this, do they? There are threaded discussions, which are often very large. Or there are comments as you’d find on FaceBook. But, like on FaceBook, once the comment section gets’ beyond about 20 comments it’s impossible to follow, and even worse if there is some kind of conversation going on as it will often be interrupted by other unrelated comments.

“Currently, most MOOC platforms offer designated forums once a student has enrolled on a course. These forums have little meaningful content and lack “leaders” to encourage participation. In short, they have no community spirit.”

As I said, I don’t see any platforms with forums. I see different types of areas where learners can engage and converse, but not in a meaningful manner. I know I used to complain about the old BlackBoard forum design and implementation, but at least it could be used for conversations?

MOOC platforms that pertain to be cMOOC (i.e. “learners are expected to make an active contribution via different digital platforms” seem to do this “active contribution” element so badly. How come? Is it volume of learners & associated engagements that is the limiting factor or the platform?

MOOCs – what do I want?
Why limit the learner to the one platform? Why can they only make their contribution on the one step where comments or discussions are permitted or recommended? Why not open this up to bring content in from outside the platform, from G+, Twitter, etc … actually use the online areas where the learner wants to engage? if you want to engage learners in social activities, make sure they can use their own preferred  social platforms?

Perhaps the limiting factor on engagement is not actually technology related, perhaps it’s just the volume of comments or replies that exist? Instead of having a MOOC that runs twice a year with 10,000 learners each cohort, would it be better suited to run every week with 2-300 learners each week? The learners would progress with those other learners who started in the same time frame as them, therefore building more meaningful relationships with their fellow learners. Obviously the courses will need to be designed so there is minimal academic engagement or monitoring, but is this a stumbling block or just a different type of course emerging?

 Image source: anroir (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Progress …

It’s useful to reflect on progress, or projects, or my work in general. Seeing as this is my 6th (or 7th – see I’ve lost count already) week in my new role at Warwick Business School (WBS) I thought I’d reflect on my ‘general’ duties as a(nother) newbie … how do my new days at WBS compare with my old days at Leicester and Bournemouth?

  • Blackboard.

No more Blackboard! Well, that’s not entirely true as I’m now using Bb Collaborate to support core WBS activity and DL programmes. I’ve been learning the subtleties of how WBS work with and run Bb Collaborate sessions and how it integrates with the VLE (myWBS).

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again … I like(d) Blackboard and will kind of miss it. Once you understand the subtleties of what it is and how it works you can do what you want, most of the time. In my experience people who moan about it the most have spent less time trying to work with it, almost fighting against it.

  • New VLE

I’ve been using Bb for seven years, so to use a different VLE (myWBS), and see it working well, is an eye-opener. I hadn’t realised how dependent on my prior knowledge of Bb I was, and the comfort this can give when attending training, meeting, etc., so this is an amazing opportunity to (re)open my eyes and to apply seven years experience and knowledge to a different environment. Can I actually do it? Learning resources, materials, links, structures, etc. are easy to replicate across different systems, but making them look or work or act like they ‘belong’ isn’t. Having the ability to impact on development of the system is a new experience for me in HE, and not having to wait for release and updates to filter through the upgrade cycle is frustrating at the best of times. No more.

  • Lists

Lists scare me – I make them, nothing gets crossed off, more gets added. It’s even worse when you’re new and learning the environment, the people, the culture, the systems, etc. but they are so very useful. The trick is making them work. I haven’t got there yet. Any suggestions are more than welcome.

  • Preconceptions

It wouldn’t be fair to either Warwick or Leicester to compare them to each other - I started at Leicester with no pre-conceived ideas of what it would be like, what people I would meet, what issues I might encounter, and I intend to do the same here at Warwick. Approaching it this way means I am more flexible to react to, and engage with, people and circumstances that come my way. It worked at Bournemouth, it worked at Leicester, and it’s working here at Warwick too.

  • Organisation

Sometimes it’s easy to forget how much you know. Building names, room numbers, nicknames, references to offices and officers who have come and gone. It can be hard walking around with a map (remember your first day of term?). But it can also be exciting finding your own shortcut or route through the maze of new buildings and a new campus. The same is also true for new systems, new techniques, new culture, new colleagues, etc. Change is good for all sorts of reasons, but for me it’s been about seeing how my ideas, interests, passions, and approaches are mirrored in the people I work with, at Bournemouth, Leicester, and now at Warwick.

Key to being new is to listen – listen to how things work, listen to how people work, listen to ideas from experienced colleagues, listen to the team and the team dynamics. From this will come a deeper understanding of how the different elements fit together and what kind of efficiencies can be made. And where. Then you have a better understanding of what you should be asking, of whom, and when, and why. That is how you develop personally and within the role.

  • iMac

Yes, my desk has a truly awesome piece of kit in the form of an iMac which I’m using properly for the first tim. While I’m not using it ‘in anger’ yet I am loving it (keyboard, screen, quality, speed, etc.). Learning the differences of keyboard shortcuts and open/close programmes, installation, etc. is not always easy, but isn’t that what Google and YouTube are for? ;-) The only downside is that it makes anything other than a perfectly clear desk look down right messy.

  • Box of Broadcasts

Always good to see this available at any institution. Even better to see it being used, and used well. I wasn’t able to use and instruct or train anyone at Leicester on the benefits of it’s use, as it was still being evaluated when I left (I’m pleased to hear it’s available now). Nearly everyone knows it at WBS, even if they’re not using it yet (the key word here is ‘yet’). The interface has changed since I last used it in teaching and training at Bournemouth, so I’ve been familiarising myself with the new features (and re-creating playlists again for demonstration). Everyone I’ve spoken to here is keen to implement BoB, if they haven’t already done so, and if they have then they want to do more with it – teaching, training, careers, demonstrations, etc.


  • MOOCs

Warwick have produced two very successful MOOCs so far – The Mind is Flat and Shakespeare and his World. Both are set to re-run in the next few months, and I’ll be overseeing both of these (rolling over materials, checking processes and and alterations, managing progress, etc.). Further MOOCs are being investigated and planned so there is scope for further involvement and management.

  • AppSwap, Twitter, Open Badges, etc.

Conversations I had at Leicester around Twitter (and social media), the AppSwap Breakfast idea, and Open Badges have also been happening here, and I’m pleased I can offer a new or different perspective to the mix. Implementation will always be the stumbling block, but finding academics interested in trying these things out is not. There is scope and interest to develop new tools and techniques at WBS, and I am lucky to be here at a time when many are crying out for this kind of support.

  • Refreshments

It is not handy having a Costa Coffee directly opposite my office. It’s expensive and just too easy to slip across the corridor for a cuppa or cake. It is, however, really handy to have so close for meetings and the like, but we tend to use the staffroom upstairs (unless it’s used for events or other bigger meetings).

  • Burning bus

Yes, we even had a burning bus a few weeks ago to provide a talking point –  as reported in the Coventry Telegraph - that’s me in the picture, taking a picture of the fire. There wasn’t much left of it about 10 minutes later bar the basic shell (and no upper deck – and I wasn’t that close in reality, it just looks like it from the angle in the photo)!

Image source: Chairs (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Big Data, Learning Analytics, and the Learners

Big Data is the new buzzword. It’s not ‘big’ enough to topple MOOC from the lips of educatros, but it is becoming a topic that is being talked about more and more.

Firstly, what’s the difference between Big Data and Learning Analytics (if there is one)?

Learning Analytics, as defined by the 2013 Horizon Report is “big data applied to education”. There, that helped yes? No?

Then what is Big data? According to Lisa Arthur it is confusing in that it isn’t just one thing or the other, it is “a collection of data from traditional and digital sources inside and outside your company that represents a source for ongoing discovery and analysis”. Ed Dumbill says that Big Data is “data that exceeds the processing capacity of conventional database systems. The data is too big, moves too fast, or doesn’t fit the strictures of your database architectures. To gain value from this data, you must choose an alternative way to process it.

Data, big or not, is something that is captured and stored from our exposure and interaction with external sources. Offline data could include things like purchases, (credit cards, etc.) and travel (petrol pumps, airlines, trains, etc.) where as online data that is captured include searches, browsing history, accesses, and habits,

How is this pertinent to education and educators? Think about your phone or tablet. If you use it on campus, and have at any time logged into the (free?) wifi then the odds are that it will still connect to the network next time you are in range. The system can track where on campus you are from the node you access or connect to. Also tracked (actively or not) is your activity through the network – websites, systems, movement/locations, etc. All before you actively use the device.

The other (positive?) aspect of Big Data and Learning Analytics are those associated with online behaviour in a specific system … the VLE maybe? Once the student logs in it is possible to track each click, every keystroke, every interaction, and more besides. The idea is to ‘learn’ the profile of the student through their behaviour in order to track unusual activity and, possibly, be alerted to anything out of the ordinary - students lagging behind or finding particular subjects or topics difficult.

Learning Analytics, then, is all about finding patterns and clues in the volume of ‘big data’ sets and numbers, and using them to help students.

Big Data Learning Analytics

In 2011 Cailean Hargrave presented at the FOTE conference the ‘Student Analytics for Success’. It was not received well at the time, not least as it was based on predictive crime (remember Minority Report anyone?) purporting to predict behaviour based on assumptions made about the student and his/her background. I felt worried that a student who was busy and might have let a milestone slip might be flagged as ‘in-need’ unnecessarily, and that a student who was struggling personally (not academically) would be by-passed in the system as they were getting everything handed in on time and attending all lectures.

Data can be manipulated according to the need of the analysis, and I would not want the ‘individual’ taken out of the data – the system can be programmed to look for certain traits or behaviours, but that needs some far reaching assumptions to be made, assumptions that need carefully defining.

Diana Laurillard writes in The Guardian that “Big data could improve teaching, but not without educators taking control of this extraordinary methodological gift. At present the field is being driven almost entirely by technology professionals who are not educators and have never taught online. Instead, we could be recruiting all lecturers everywhere to collaborate and generate their own large-scale data collection and analysis. Then big data could really make a difference.”

Blackboard, of course, has the Learning Analytics dashboard that takes a students’ progress through a set of defined goals as a mark of learning and achievement, but the one thing it doesn’t do is measure ‘learning’. But how do you measure learning … by looking at participation in a self-assessed multiple choice test? By taking a percentage pass rate in the test or in progress through the course materials? That doesn’t show anything other than a click rate.

I was present during a presentation at the 2014 Blackboard T&L Conference in Dublin  where Blackboard introduced the Blackboard Store where I was told (in relation to students buying the core text through the system, therefore tracking could be applied to the purchase) that I would be able to easily see the students who weren’t engaged with my course as they hadn’t bought the book! I do hope that isn’t what Blackboard really think … ??

In 2012 an Austrian student, Max Schrems, launched a legal case against Facebook over the use of his personal data. The premise, by Facebook, is that is collects only the data it needs in order to keep the network running (The Independent, 20 Oct, 2012).

Schrems knew Facebook kept large amounts of information on its users, but the sheer volume of his file still amazed him, he said. Pictures uploaded from smartphones included precise global positioning system coordinates, the identities of anyone tagged in the photos and the moment — down to the second — when the shutter clicked. Information that users thought they had deleted survived in Facebook files.

So, we have data, we have ‘big’ data, and we have (limited) knowledge or control over how that information is stored, used, massaged, accessed, or even sold.

Doesn’t that scare you? It does me. And yet I continue to take photos on my iPhone (geo-tagged), share photos (Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, Flickr), and much more, and each interaction with my phone and an internet connection (wifi or cellular) results in a wealth of information about me, my habits, my actions, etc. is shared with … well, ultimately I don’t know who with. One thing I do know is that there may not be much value in this data now, but in a few years it could be worth so much to governments, advertisers, brands, corporations …

Reflection: Does anyone else remember the album from Billy Idol: Cyberpunk in 1993? No? It must be me then. If you do you’ll remember the reading on the first track, adapted from Gareth Branwyn’s “Is There a Cyberpunk Movement?”. Here’s the bit that matters (remember, this is 1993 – before Google!!):

“Mega-corporations are the new governments;
Computer-generated info domains are the new frontiers.
And though there is better living through science and chemistry,
We are all becoming cyborgs.
The computer is the new cool tool.
And though they say all information should be free,
It is not.
Information is power and currency in the virtual world we inhabit,”

The cyberpunk movement gave us a fore-warning of Facebook, Google, Apple, etc. … “Mega-corporations are the new governments … though they say all information [data] should be free, It is not. Information [data] is power and currency in the virtual world we inhabit”.

Image source: JD Hancock (CC BY 2.0)

Day 3: Blackboard T&L Conference #BbTLC2014

Day 3 and the final day of the 2014 Blackboard Teaching & Learning Conference in Dublin. A few more sessions to keep us amused and awake, a few more strong cups of tea, and a fond farewell to Dublin & Blackboard.

Only a few sessions this morning, but a great opportunity for a few more sketchnotes.

Dan Hewes: Developing an exemplary course for Bb Mobile Learn

Dan Hewes #BbTLC2014

Sharon Flynn: Student as producer, developing a campus mobile App for students by students using Mosaic

Sharon Flynn #BbTLC2014

Sharon Flynn #BbTLC2014

Congratulations Sharon, your session was the first where I needed to use more than 2 pages!

If you’ve any comments, additions, or amendments then please leave a comment below.

If you want to use the sketchnotes then please remember to use the Creative Commons attribution to this blog entry and David Hopkins (CC BY-NC 3.0).

I’d also like to thank Blackboard and University College Dublin for organising such an excellent event, in a wonderful location and city. I also have to thank Blackboard for choosing me as the ‘creative selfie’ iPad winner! It’s all just a little laugh but still, thank you.

David Hopkins #BbTLC2014

David Hopkins #BbTLC2014

Day 2: Blackboard T&L Conference #BbTLC2014

Day 2 of the 2014 Blackboard T&L Conference started with the usual Bb roadmap, which I’ll leave for others to cover.

As with the sessions I followed yesterday I’ve continued to sketchnote my way through them, making notes of the ideas and concepts rather than the specifics of the detail and data. Here are my day two sketches:

Dan Hewes: Flip your class with Blackboard Learn

Dan Hewes #BbTLC2014

Jan Snijders: The Matrix, connecting worlds

Jan Snijders #BbTLC2014

Ted Hopper: Bridging the gap to the future of learning content

Ted Hopper #BbTLC2014

Sara Preston: Embedding Blackboard Collaborate in academic practice

Sara Preston #BbTLC2014

If you’ve any comments, additions, or amendments then please leave a comment below.

If you want to use the sketchnotes then please remember to use the Creative Commons attribution to this blog entry and David Hopkins (CC BY-NC 3.0).

Day 1: Blackboard T&L Conference #BbTLC2014

At the first day of the 2014 Blackboard T&L Conference I made a decision – tweet less, listen more, take/make meaningful notes, and enjoy the sessions for what they are, not what I wanted them to be.

To this end I am Sketchnoting my way through the sessions, and here are my sketchnotes for Day 1.

Keynote: Prof Stephen Heppell 

Prof Stephen Heppell #BbTLC2014

Brian Hipkin: The culture of ‘always on’ – how not to disengage in the age of engagement

Brian Hipkin #BbTLC2014

Gillian Fielding: ‘A room with a view’ for virtually anyone

Gillian Fielding #BbTLC2014

Kate Wright: Making more mobile – Aberystwyth University’s experience of implementing Mobile Learn

Kate Wright #BbTLC2014

If you want to use the sketchnotes then please remember to use the Creative Commons attribution to this blog entry and David Hopkins (CC BY-NC 3.0).