How do you blog or utilise online digital tools?

Good question, firstly I tend to have many levels of blogging and online personal learning networks depending upon the context and reasons. Here are a few below and the reasons will all be very logical and reasonable.

– Google Keep is my though bucket a private space where all my to dos go, shopping lists, check list, research notes etc.

– My OU Blog space is set up for public view with all my study notes from my PG study on MA(ODE)(Open).

– I have a further setting built in to the OU blog for ‘my eyes only’ ie personal notes and peer feedback from forum study.

– I did try to use Blogger but failed miserably, this one is closed down.

– WordPress is my public space that I have just revived from the ashes with the phoenix rising.

– Flickr is my photography legacy page as I love to take photos.

– Instagram for social media related arts/galleries/ things I like. Incidentally I deleted my account due to the T&Cs, however after reactivating this, all my pictures were intact, how spooky.

– Pinterest – again recently revived and all my saved images are all intact.

– Twitter for Ed Tech and motivational CPD.

– Linkedin work related professional development at work and for all previous work colleagues and companies that I have worked at.

– Facebook RIP Cambridge Analytica.

– OpenLearn/FutureLearn for curating CPD content for Teaching Assistant roles and computer programming skills.

– Mendeley, ScienceDirect, Google Scholar, Cite Them Right for referencing useful Ed Tech research papers.

– Slack for cross team communications (sometimes better than email).

– Trello good for project management and task status check ins.

– RSS feeds – aggregates useful information in one place.

– SoundCloud and BBC Sounds app – recently toying with podcasts.

– Blinkist – recently started using and gives nuggets of useful blinks of books and podcasts.

Over to you, how do you blog or utilise online digital tools?

Meaningful versus meaningless learning

There is a really poor tendancy to always think that the more courses one completes the more we know.

However, I realise that learning acquires a need to learn and collect evidence of completion for let’s say for example CPD purposes. But what if one was collecting learning certificates for the sake of fueling one’s own ego – then the process of learning becomes disengaging, methodical and possibly meaningless.

There’s real beauty in engaging with our peers, our family, our sangat (Sikh community Punjabi word), our neighbours, our departments, in fact everyone including the universe.

The choice of learning modes enables us to find the best style of consuming learning depending on our mood or context. This could be very beneficial when curating online content for a specific range of purposes.

So going back to my original point that accumulating numerous lists of certificates on xyz, and badge for this and a badge for that – like it has become a hobby to collect them to accumulate by mass rather by specialism turns us into consumers not learners.

So it’s the need to learn more with a good reason rather for the sake of learning. Sometimes just taking a break can be so much more better than cramming in too much and crashing out like we had a sugar rush.

Key takeaways –

Be honest with yourself learn what you really want to learn and not for the sake of learning.

Take a break from learning do something else – read a book or listen to a podcast or talk to someone.

Be real be you – be nice be kind.

Reflecting with a lense of gratitude

I recently worked at a startup for 20 months as Learning Designer at Coventry University Online. Here are my reflections with a lense of gratitude, reflecting back on my time at Coventry University Online.

Firstly I am extremely grateful for being recognised in the first instance – as I had applied for numerous roles which I had lost count that led to no avail.

Secondly the bigger team that I was within were a very diverse group of people from all walks of life and experience. I’m grateful that they were part of my professional development journey that has led me to where I am today.  To give you an insight there were team members from Japanese, African, European, myself as BAME and experts from every cultural background. This to me resonated and this reflected the true UK demographic. More HEIs of today need to be more like this. All my academics came from global perspectives and gave me the confidence to enable them with my support to create high quality courses.

Thirdly I was part of a team known as the Learning Design team – as one of the ‘original’ members of the team I felt humbled to assist in the recruitment process when recruiting for new Learning Designers to join the team. This to me has benefited my current role and organisation as this is an area of personal focus. As I would like to engage with being on more interview panels at the OU as a member from a diverse background.

Fourthly I am grateful for being introduced to the ‘Thinking Environment’ by Nancy Klein which enables more meaningful meetings to be facilitated and ensures for better outcomes. I received the foundation certified training in 2018 and I would like to revise my learning to work towards facilitation certification.

Fifthly I am indebted to the seniors within the larger parts of the university for being inspiring towards my first steps towards leadership – especially Mark Holton who now works at Middlesex University. Our cup of tea catch ups were a huge help to me.

My time within the previous role at the startup was 20 months and the skills and knowledge that I gained has given me the confidence to aim higher within my life and my current situation. From being complacent within my life I have now matured with humbleness of my experience to understand how my current role fits into the bigger picture. The role had also enabled me to step up to the challenge of embracing change during uncertain times. Within my own role I had been known as the ‘go to person’ as I was able to answer queries and questions with quick thinking.

So how has this shaped up my current situation? Currently I am working as Digital Development Editor at the Open University. Coming from a BAME background has an advantage that I can spot where the referenced content could confuse global learners. My main role is within the FutureLearn microcredentials production team. As a member of the newly formed team I’m excited to being able to shape up the latest new courses to be released for next year. Onwards and upwards – to infinity and beyond.

Let’s not get ourselves lost in the digital space

I’ve been thinking about blogging about this idea for a while, so here goes.

Often over time I’ve test run a few applications, given advice on a few or thought nah I don’t like that and deleted my account. Whether we are digital natives or digital migrants, or visitors to residents it’s fair to say that society has normalised our assumptions around the use of social media.

Today I had a thought – what if I began to use my smartphone as a phone and not as a minicomputer. Wouldn’t life be much simpler, like the good life.

So from tomorrow onwards my phone will be in aeroplane mode, I’ll be taking a social media break too as like I mentioned earlier I’d like to not loose myself in the digital world. But be back in the real world and enjoy the simpler things around me.

Years into the future will we be dealing with more and more issues around digital wellbeing?

I’m not sure but I’ll report back and see if my 30 day challenge works.

Dusting off the old blogging site

I am close to the final 4 weeks of my module of study and last week we looked at blogging as part of our reflections. As a result of this I felt that there was real value in reigniting my interests to blog again. I admit that I lost interest in blogging as I felt that it was not my style.

So a question occurred, ‘where do you find your inspiration to blog?’ Firstly look around people you know or have read their blog pages, what did you like about their reflections? Are there any leading thought figures that you enjoyed watching their TED talks or are there any books that you read that had made a positive impact on your life or work career practice? These can be good starting points and looking within specific subject specialist areas will help you find other inspirational blogs too.

Social Media as a space for crowdsourced knowledge

I found that by browsing social media channels can bring up similar interest based posts to your own practice. The following web based spaces help me with my specific interests.

Twitter – I follow many educational technology evangelists from around the world. Including specialists at my current and past organisations that I worked at. One downside to this approach is that you would be restricted by the bubble that we are in and exposed to. We will only follow and view opinions and interests similar to our own, and not completely new concepts that are out of our circles of interest. The 140 character limit ensures that information is shared into bite size chunks.

Instagram – I use this application for following artists, art galleries and museums from around the world. The beauty of this idea is that the art galleries exhibitions are brought to you all in one place. Trending artists share their work, and past famous artists are remembered through the art galleries.

WordPress reader – This is a great way to follow similar interest blogs to your own and by following leading academics can expand your understanding of their practice. This can also lead to you discovering new connections to other networks of specialist interests that you can learn from. This approach enabled me to build up my knowledge and understanding of other networks and communities which could introduce me to further opportunities.

LinkedIn – Great resource for linking up your professional work resume with your network of colleagues and companies that you worked with. I enjoy following specialist articles on personal development and leading organisations with similar interests to my own personal interests.

Reddit – Nice application for asking questions or learning about special topics. This too contains hashtags that will enable you to find and share similar posts by themed tags. This helps you to find topic specific content so that you can filter the information from the wealth of knowledge available. A good example of Reddit being used effectively is the hashtag #Accessibility, with lots of useful shared links to this tag.

Academia – This is a social media channel that is tailored for the academic world. However, recently the site received some quite negative exposure in the media as the site had been found to collude with plagiarised content. Plus as a profit based organisation had been known to request extra payment from academics to increase the popularity of their research papers (Forbes 2016).

ResearchGate – Again another social media orientated site that offers research papers for open access. Recently RG came under scrutiny as reports claimed that the site had not taken plagiarised content accusations seriously (Wikipedia n.d).

Google Scholar – By far the most diverse collection of research papers that are freely accessible. However not all papers are always up to date and some may be found to be uploaded without the original authors permission. As this platform does not need institutional login access this makes Google Scholar a huge favourite as a reference point for great free learning opportunities.

Your turn

What are your favourite online social media channels that you find useful in gaining knowledge from a range of subjects? Have you found that some applications come and go or you found one application was outdated by a much better application?