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)

“Hang on a minute lads, I’ve got a great idea!” #blideo

So, Steve Wheeler has updated the #blimage challenge to video now (a natural progression), and challenged a few people to reflect and write on what it means to them.

You can read my #bliamge and #blideo posts here, and find out more about the challenge and how to get involved (hint: find an image, write about it as part of a learning journey or story or experience).

Here’s Steve’s challenge:

Apart from the shear volume of the herd (makes me think about “following the herd’ mentality) it’s the poor lost/stuck calf at the end of the video. Whilst struggling with confidence on jumping the fence, like he’s seen all his family do, he finally tries it, succeeds, and runs to catch up with the herd. 

Here’s the bit I focussed on, the bit right at the end … the herd, or three of them at any rate, waited for him.  Or that’s my interpretation. For me that’s the beauty of a working herd, a community, or a group focussed on a shared goal (see BYOD4L or LTHEchat or FOS4L). When one is in trouble the community comes to his or her aid. Whilst elk obviously can’t encourage or instruct the calf on how to get over the fence, they are still around once he’s jumped it, and rally around when he’s close.

That’s what I believe a community (of practice) is and should be.

Now for my challenge. Using this clip from the 1969 classic Italian Job, say what it makes you think of, professionally or personally. For this I challenge everyone, but would like to hear from James Clay, Julian Stodd, and Terese Bird (quite a mix of backgrounds and perspectives from these EdTechBook authors).

“Hang on a minute lads, I’ve got a great idea!”

Image source: Stairs (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Why I tweet #edchat

Inspired by the many talented people who draw and sketch their thoughts (and hoping I can emulate even just a smidgen of their abilities) here is my first (public) drawing from the iPad App Paper by 53 – why I tweet.

David Hopkins - Why I tweet

Please feel free to share or remix, comment or criticise  (although I’d rather you didn’t), and try for yourself. The Paper App and all the pens are now free (but wasn’t when I first found it!) and have produced some amazing artwork and drawings, some of which Julian Stodd used and allowed to be used in The Really Useful #EdTechBook.

It’s also worth noting why I add hashtags to my blog post titles, read about it from 2011!

Books vs eBooks: it’s about WHY as well as WHERE?

So, I buy books and eBooks. It’s not a massive revelation, but if all you read is websites like Mashable or The Verge it might seem unusual to do both.

What I see discussed about the difference between physical books and eBooks is about where we choose to read them. Plenty is written about where we read each type (and why) or how you buy or read them … but for me it’s also about why I buy and read them on the different formats.

I’ll own up to to it now and say that, yes, I do use a large online retailer for the majority of my books … I don’t have much spare money for this activity and I need to be careful about how much and how often I spend my money.

I am quite particular about the way I buy my books. I tend to buy fiction books to read on either my Kindle or using the Kindle App on my iPad. The Kindle is so much more flexible in its ease for carrying and holding than both the physical copy and iPad Kindle App (although I may have the iPad on me more often than the Kindle). I have all my Kindle books on my Kindle (I’ve still a long way to go before I start to find the limit on space), so it’s easy to choose my next book.

I’ve downloaded and enjoyed the whole series (12 so far) of The Frontier’s Saga (self-published, eBook-only science fiction), the Ben Hope series (again, self-published, eBook-only). I have enjoyed many other eBook-only independent author works that are either a series or very good one-offs. What attracted me to these eBooks were favourable reviews or I just took a punt and thought that £0.69 or £1.99 was easy money that I wouldn’t easily  miss if the book turned out to be a bit, well, naff. As it happened, they were really good so I went back for more. I would not have done that with a paperback book which would’ve easily been £5.99 or more, certainly not for a book that was part of a series.

Kindle books are so much more appealing when they are appropriately priced compared to the physical copy. I do not like, nor will buy, an eBook that is aggressively priced. In fact, eBooks that are only £1.00 cheaper than the paper copy is just plain rude in my book (pardon the pun) .. these are typically the type of non-fiction books I like.

But when it comes to non-fiction books, like reference books, textbooks, autobiographies, or other interesting fact-based novels … I like to have the physical version to hold, read, annotate, and put on my shelf (and yes, show-off). I’ve Sir Ken Robinson’s Out of Our Minds sitting alongside Julian Stodd’s The Social Leadership Handbook, Brian Chen’s Always On, and Oliver Quinlan’s Thinking Teacher. I’ve used those mini coloured post-it highlight things to tag pages or phrases I find important, or for sections I’ve annotated and want to reference again at some point.

I like having the physical copy for these kinds of books. Yes, I can do the same things in the Kindle version, but I still like the physical book. I also like the way they look on a bookshelf. It’s not a large collection, but it is growing, and I like to be able to see easily (and quickly) the way my reading habits change, grow, and are influenced by friends, colleagues, and my peers.


What I wish, however, is that the publishing world would wake up to the opportunity to have their materials, their books, more widely read and shared. I would love to have the eBook edition of all my physical books so I have a choice of how, as well as where, to read them!

Last year, for my birthday, I was bought the complete (so far) set of 7 Game of Thrones books (paperbacks). Each one is a mammoth effort to hold as they’re so large. When I want to read in bed I prefer the ease and lightness of the Kindle. If I’m outside or in the conservatory I prefer the paperback. But unless I buy the eBook edition I don’t have this choice. I’ve read the first two books and now don’t want to read the rest as, well, the books are too damned heavy! If I had the Kindle versions as well though … ?

The year before I was given the complete set of Gone books by Michael Grant (soon to be a TV series I hope). I enjoyed the experience of reading these in paper form, but now I want to re-read them and just can’t be bothered to get the books out. I want to read them on my Kindle – there were some parts of the stories that I now know are not key to the plot (sorry, it’s true) so want to skip.

The other advantage of having paper and eBook editions, for me, is that I can swap between them based on where I am, or what mood I’m in. More importantly, I have the ability to make that choice.

For my 40th birthday my brother bought a USB turntable, so I can digitise my 80’s and 90’s music vinyl collection. This meant I didn’t have to buy (again) those albums that made my childhood and teenage years so wonderful. I have the vinyl LP or 12″ single to listen to in it’s original form (crackles and all), or the MP3 version on my iPod. I have that choice!

Yes, Amazon now have the Matchbook feature where selected titles have the eBook edition available at considerably lower (if not free) price. This is controlled by the very publishers that are causing the problem in eBook prices in the first place!

Those of you who invest in the paper copy of The Really Useful #EdTechBook will also have the ability (if purchased from Amazon) to have the eBook edition for free through Matchbook, this is how strongly I feel about the crossover between howwhere, and why we read what we read!

image source: Francesco Minciotti (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Book review: The Social Leadership Handbook @julianstodd

“What we know today will get us to tomorrow, but we’ll have to learn more again tomorrow to keep ahead … welcome to the Social Age, where change is constant and we live in constant beta.”

I’ve never thought about learning like this before, other than I know I get bored quickly so find new things to keep me engaged and entertained. But, with the constant bombardment of new technologies, new networks, new applications to old techniques, etc. we are indeed in ‘constant beta’.

And I mean ‘we’ in the context of learning professionals (which I’m exploring with my next book project: follow here for news -#EdTechBook) that we need to not only keep up with developments but somehow keep ahead of them. I know this is near impossible, but we can at least be proactive in how we approach the changes, reflect on our own experiences, and make suggestions and engage with each other (and the students). From this will come better understanding and a clearer picture of what could be used, how, where, why, and (importantly) by whom. 

The Social Leadership Handbook This is why Julian Stodd’s book The Social Leadership Handbook is another book that has found it’s way on to my reading list.

Whilst Julian has clearly aimed the handbook at leaders and managers I see it resonating so closely with those of us who work across disciplines, as we often need to exhibit skills more aligned to management than technical.

“The Social Age is about high levels of engagement through informal, socially collaborative technology. It supports agility by allowing many and varied connections and the rapid iteration of ideas in communities that are ‘sense making’.”

Julian’s NET model is built around three themes, or dimensions. These are ‘narrative’, ‘engagement’, and ‘technology’. You see now why I think this is such an important book for learning professionals? Just this concept could be used to explain the role of a Learning technologist – we need to curate to share our knowledge (‘narrative’), we manage our networks, reputation, and communities (‘engagement’), and we use social collaboration and reach to learn more than we already know (‘technology’). And it doesn’t stop, we keep cycling through the three stages, not spending the same amount of time in each phase, each time we reach it, but moving and shaping our own learning, and thus the learning of those who we encounter and interact.

“Technology facilitates the experience, it facilitates learning, but doesn’t guarantee it … you can control the technology, but you can’t control the conversation, and when push comes to shove, it’s the conversation that counts. Technology is transient and adaptable. I can just bring my own device.”

I have not had chance to read the whole book properly but I know enough already that this will have an impact on hows I think about myself, my work, and how I approach the different elements: “the [NET Model] circle represents an agile journey .. once we have mastered the skills, we continue to refine them.

Main image source: Julian Stodd / SeaSalt Learning