Oliver Cromwell – about as much fun as stinging nettle underpants

Whenever a grown-up says “I don’t understand <some massively important historical event which has shaped our country>” I send them to Horrible Histories’ Bob Hale so they can find out all about it in three minutes.

Three minutes?!

Well, that means plenty of time for an educational showtune…


Don’t forget – kids aren’t as clever as they used to be, modern culture is dumbing us down etc etc etc

Marc Prensky on Assessment

Here is Marc, talking with Prof Heppell on how educational assessment is years, if not centuries behind the technology people are using to learn and find out stuff.

Whenever I film an interview in HD on my £100 FLIP, which I can put on youtube and at least a few people will look at, and contains all the body language and emotion of the interviewee, but then spend ages transcribing so it becomes faceless words on paper – with little or no chance of being read – I do wonder when the ‘doctorate’ will take a step into the 20th century, if not the 21st…

Here are Marc’s thoughts on a range of other education-related topics >>

He is on the money about a lot of things – the post-literate society is nearer than we think…

Top Ten elearning tools

Jane Hart runs a very useful website full of lists and tools. Recently she has been asking for people’s Top Ten tools for delivering elearning. Here are mine:

#1 Your organisation’s most up-to-date strategy document. If your list of courses doesnt reflect what is in this, you are simply not relevant.
#2 delicious or other social bookmarking tool. the easiest and most organised way of getting people to exchange links and curiosities
#3 photoshop – if it doesn’t look beautiful noone will want to go through it. Save a few quid by getting elements, 99.9% of the time it as good as the full version.
#4 prezi – powerpoint on steroids and with Kate Moss’s phone number
#5 captivate – the best £ for £ rapid elearning tool by miles. If your elearning is not scenario-based or replicate decision-making then it is rubbish. So you need branching – rapid doesnt need to mean dumb.
#6 flash – for the things that articulate cannot do
#7 a really nice .flv encoder
#8 youtube. That video you want probably already exists
#9 a subscription to athens (much higher than #9 if you have one). There is so much pseudo-academic anecdotal BS in elearning and so much research available – that isn’t used!! Drives me nuts. If you cant get athens google.scholar will make you appear much cleverer than you are.
#10 donald clark’s blog. For consistently pointing out the herd of elephants in the training room/lecture theatre/class. If you find Donald’s posts irritating, it is because you are doing it wrong

links for 2009-03-31

Digital Retreat part 2

So, CEMP are organising a ‘digital retreat’ to get some people from Ofcom to familiarise themselves with bits of the web that they haven’t had a lot of exposure to.

The (slightly dodgy) title for this session is ’10 Steps to becoming a digital native’ (read the discourse, even if it is flaky, here is an alternative view). The 10 Steps I am thinking of getting them to look at are:


I want to start with this as there are some important issues for them to think about as they start to create their online persona:

  • Where is the balance between work and play?
  • Do they want separate work and private identities?
  • What do they want to look like?
  • Are they a representative of Ofcom when online?
These things need to be considered before they start creating user accounts for all the things we are going to look at. This could be quite a lengthy and philosophical discussion. Then the specific things we look at are:
  1. Join facebook (if not already member) – interesting conversation here about how facebook is now the ‘digital suburbs’
  2. Setup a blog – mainly just to show how easy it is. blogger is most straightforward IMO
  3. Join Twitter and microblog
  4. Create an avatar in Second Life – this should be fun and it will be interesting for them to see each others’ avatars and to see who goes mad and who creates a facsimile.


  1. Contribute to BBC HYS – review discussions, find one meaningful (if possible), participate
  2. Review a book or album and share review, or holiday on Trip Advisor
  3. Wikipedia – contribute some knowledge – but not about Ofcom  – although will be interesting to see if that is there instinct and I have all sorts of stories about BBC folk being out of line and getting caught :)


  1. Forward a viral or funny video or news item (eg does the Today viral work for Today, or Rubber Republic) – the compare and contrast between bbc headlines, most read and most emailed is always interesting
  2. ebay
  3. World of Warcraft
Obviously the boundaries between these categories are abitary and very blurry, but the aim is to get them thinking. They need to be particularly wary of creating policy on the fly if they participate in the online space.
I am surprised how basic some of these things are, but based on experience at the beeb, I should have learned by now…

Digital Retreat

Somehow I have managed to secure a bursary which funds my PhD. I get my fees paid and a modest stipend which makes it possible to get by if I can find 10-12 days of other paid work a month. Not bad at all. The quid pro quo is that I have to do a bit of teaching.

This is no great hardship as the only thing I really miss about being a boss of quite a big team is the part that was mentoring young designers and producers and seeing them move onto bigger and better things at the beeb.

However, my first assignment is running some sessions on ’10 steps to becoming a digital native’ (although perhaps that should be digital dillettante ;-) )for some senior folk from Ofcom. I will be looking at; identity, contribution and play as three sessions, although the boundaries between those categories are somewhat artificial. Should be interesting, except for the inevitable bit that will be about twittering about cups of coffee…

I’ll post a bit more on the content tomorrow.