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Design Museum

Digital Capacities and Capabilities

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Writing up a paper of soughts, certainly a monologue, on how elearning is adopted in an FE/HE college I find myself looking to adjust the descriptors 'maps, taps and chaps', Google it and end up back here - at my own blog. I get what I need and more because this is not the first time at all that I have reflected upon how elearning as an innovation has been and is being adopted. 

I'll share what I have written in due course as it is the culmination of a year in the frontline and is the product of my multiple interests.

Over the weekend I realised that the greatest guide in my life has been Mr.Ben. I like to wear different hats. There are days where I will don several different hats consecutively: historian, sailor, walker, cook. 

Across the 14 episodes of the 1970s children's animated series, Mr Benn dressed up as: 'Red Knight'; 'Hunter'; 'Cook'; 'Caveman'; 'Balloonist'; 'Zoo Keeper'; 'Frogman'; 'Wizard'; 'Cowboy'; 'Clown'; 'Magic Carpet'; 'Spaceman'; 'Pirate'; and 'Gladiator'.

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Design Museum

Google Hangouts, Oculus Go and Adobe Premier Pro

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Jack of all trades and master of none? 

Adobe Premier Pro

Chasing up skills on different platforms and as I nudge each a little forward I find I can be a long way behind. It is one thing to shoot video, and to stretch behind a basic camera or smartphone to use a Digital SLR, but then cutting in Adobe Premier Pro has considerably more functionality than I am used to. Mastering this looks like learning to crochet while on a monocycle on a tightrope. This is from someone who was brought up on video and had a career working in teams of cameramen and soundengineers, and editors, with specialists for titles, graphics and sound. Now, at this level, you have to do it all yourself and deliver to what we used to call a 'broadcast' standard.

Oculus Go

Having got the kit and having watched several YouTube how to videos I am slowly getting my head around it.  Has it educational value? I rather think the entertainment value is greater - though shutting yourself away to watch a homecinema experience film is even less social than dozing on the sofa with crisps and a hotchocolate. I am hoping that the 360 Human Anatonmy 'cast' to a large screen will have value in an anatomy class.

Google Hangouts

We use them. They are straight forward. Can I get it down to single A4 page poster? I could, or did. I produced an 8 minute screencast which I hope I get deliver in under 4 minutes.

Nothing that an MAODE could have prepared me for. But what do you expect if join the Army via Staff College and then opt to get in on the front line. Next up a PGCE?




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Design Museum

London Aquatics Centre for three days

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Three days, with a 7.15 am poolside start each day with some 20+ swimmers from our club Mid-Sussex Marlins. 'Working' poolside rather than just visiting as a tourist or even a spectator meant I experienced something of the buzz around competitive swimming.

8 Sessions, 7 to 20 swimmers in each. Every stroke and every distance, from 1500m Freestyle to 50m sprints. Quite a tasks to coral the swimmers onto a patch of the poolside which all the London clubs mark out with beach chairs. I had just the one. It was easy to get squeezed.

The 2 hours between warm up and a swim had many swimmers setting off for trips around the Olympic Park with their parents and then doing a poolside warm up before their race - not ideal.

Work on their underwater phase is paying off, with great distances. Often they are the last to surface and do so ahead of the pack.

All of this tied in with an Institute of Swimming 'Certification' which I have been completing on the ePortfolio 'Pebblepad' that I was first introduced to here in 2010 as part of the MAODE - it has changed considerably. It is a sophisticated, detailed Workbook with multiple test sheets and 'evidence' to be submitted - often via the App 'Pebblepocket' so that a video or audio clip, or photos can be uploaded easily. The downside is the volume of material that is easily generated and the need for both a mentor/supervisor rather than simply an assessor looking over my work.


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Design Museum

So riled by Brexit that I am now actively engaged in Politics

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 17 Apr 2019, 07:14

 IMAGE TO ADD - Remind me!



First I joined a Party, then I was selected to be a Town Councillor candidate and now I am up to be an MEP.

Agitated and highly active on Twitter this last year learning who I am politically through BBC Parliament I have now decided to 'do a course'. Chance has me signed up to 'Moral Foundations of Politics' with Ian Shapiro which is being deliver by Coursera from Yale University.

I can top this off with the 93 year old Dr Zbigniew Pelczynski, who taught East European Political History to Bill Clinton over Easter - he is my father-in-law and thrilled at my newly found interest in politics.

Until this last 6 months three subjects have left me cold: accounts, football and politics. 

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Design Museum

Scenario Design Learning Design

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 17 Apr 2019, 07:14

  IMAGE TO ADD - Remind me!


For a long time following Anna Sabramowicz on LinkedIn I became increasingly taken by here quirky and clear pieces on Twitter about the value of Scenario Design Learning in eLearning design. The opportunity came to join her on a new project where she leads a group learning her approach.

I begin her 8 week course at the end of May.


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Teaching Learning Technologies in practice: Planet eStream.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 22 Mar 2019, 12:50

On Wednesday I took a class of 12 PGCE Level Two Teacher Trainees on a tour of Planet eStream. I inadvertently added into the mix the mind mapping tool SimpleMinds, the 360 tour creator ThingLink and Wordpress blogging.

Becoming a champion for this TV, Video, multi-media educational platform I found I could introduce, demonstrate, elaborate, answer problems and queries and even get them signed in without unnecessary panic.

A number of things have got me here:

  • time to push the boundaries of the different parts of the platform with close to authentic learning challenges, rather than some random 'giving it a go'.
  • Having colleagues and friendly tutors to practice on in small groups until I was ready for something bigger.
  • Taking ownership of the class. Therefore having my own 'session plan' and the means to follow this.

My fall back came in several parts:

  1. I thought in part like a Swim Coach and on a set of landscape formatted sheets even gave the duration for each part of the presentation and a cumulative duration to get me through the two hours.
  2. A flip pack of 18 sheets that I could read standing up at a table
  3. Sets of mindmaps, one for the Student experience the other for the Staff experience. I had these as A4 sheets to hand out and as A3 sheets for me to view at a glance. I could call these up on a screen, however, as I found on the day, this was simply a medium sized flat screen that would never be seen across the room.
  4. I also hand some corporate handouts from Planet eStream.
  5. Logging in I signed in as staff and using an incognito window as a student. 
  6. I also had in the tabs the mind maps, the 18 sheets and the final fall back a Slides PPT each of a single image to use as a visual prompt for me. 

There is a lot to get through simply to promote the variety of things the platform can do to support teaching, in particular to create a 'flipped classroom'.

Pob a Ragdoll Production Puppet

I began with a story. How I got out of corporate training and information films and started at a web agency trying and failing to get broadcast TV content online for Ragdoll.

Finding out what subjects the trainee teachers would be teaching I also wondered where they saw themselves on this spectrum and explained a little about 'Diffusion of Innovation Theory' in relation to constant change and attitudes to new technology, software, applications and upgrades and how this manifests itself in the classroom as people who embrace the new and others who reject it all. 

Diffusion of Innovations Chart

I like these simple, bold images, charts or mindmaps to cue an item I want to talk about. In the shorter lesson I skipped much of my introduction and this and got straight into Planet eStream. I think it works better with the context.

The demos I have created included taking an episode of Sheldon, lifting out the long commercial break in the middle and 'topping and tailing' either end. I then 'cut' it into 7 'chapters' that isolated Sheldon's story from the other characters. Each 'sketch' runs for less than a minute. I find these micro-experiences are ideal tasters rather than dissecting a 48 minute Horizon documentary. 

I also used a less than 2 minute long clip from a 1981 edition of Tomorrow's World where the Carry On comedian Kenneth Williams presented. Once again, the demonstration is short and memorable. I ought to find others for a younger audience. Does Oli Murs do a demonstration? What about a clip from Blue Peter 2019?

Sheldon and Kenneth Williams

Other examples of how Planet eStream works included 'grabbing' the radio series 'The Secret History of a School' in ten parts. each under 15 minutes. Here I created an added a suitable 'Thumbnail' for each episode to distinguish each visually.

What I could not do in either session. This we need a morning, afternoon or evening workshop, was to do something in real time, not just find a programme or upload from YouTube, but then edit this piece, create a playlist or make an interactive quiz. These are all straightforward to learn skills.

Here is the quiz editor platform. 

I'm writing this is part of my habitual reflection. Just as I kept a diary here almost every day of my MAODE plus the two further modules that I did, I have now kept a diary for most working days of the 12 months I have been here are GB MET.

Taking these classes I finally feel a 'change career' I began in 2000 is going in the right direction. Back then it was from corporate training and information films to online. Then with my MAODE 2010 to 2013 it temporarily went into tertiary education with the OU but in a communications rather than a learning role. Since then there has been more corporate e-learning, even a further history degree and a digital editor's role, but it is this., however modest, like a private in the army, like a private in the Labour Corps even, I am working with students and teachers.

Sitting in a class assessing where technology has a role is interesting too. More on this in my next post. 




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Design Museum

Planet eStream, SimpleMinds and ThingLink

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Planet eStream, SimpleMinds, ThingLink.

Tasked the day before to take a class for 90 minutes on creating a newsflash I agreed because at my fingertips I had tools I could use to pull together content quickly. Using Planet eStream I picked through newcasts on 6 March relating to UK Knife Crime and ended up with stories from BBC News, Good Morning Britain, Five News, RT and Al Jazeera. Once embedded I trimmed out each story and put them in a playlist.

On a whiteboard I created 'Newsflash' Bingo for things to spot, from a presenter with a clipboard to cutaways of anonymous people walking through the street.

The SimpleMinds MindMap was shared and photographed.

ThingLink was used to indicate where news stories are going. Euronews for example has a 360 item. How do you tell a non-linear story where the viewer decides where they will take it? Or is this what we do anyway clicking between a newsclip, social media, and a subscription news channel?

I miss TV. The immediacy of it. 

Tasked to take 90 minutes I found the lead teacher had lost his voice so I took substantially more of this 3 1/2 hour morning session. Hijinks with technology getting onto the network via a wireless TV keyboard and remote. 

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Design Museum

How a student blog can prove its value

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Tasked with researching the use of eportfolios in education I can google it, or i can come here. Because I have been there already I come here first.


From JISC I have this:


Why use ePortfolios (JISC)

Engagement across time

The use of e-portfolios to store information relevant to learning helps students track their personal development across time.

A rich picture of learning

The use of e-portfolios can help students to build a rich and detailed picture of their learning. Written coursework can be stored in e-portfolios, but make full use of their digital potential. Videos, photographs and audio recordings can also help students to document a more complete image of their vocational educational experience.

Ask specific questions

Students can be prompted to reflect on their learning by being asked questions. Build this into the e-portfolio. You can ask students to detail: practical activities undertaken; the quality and accuracy of their work; their methods and formative tasks; their reflections on the learning process.    

Making feedback accessible

Storing feedback in one place allows students to reflect when they are ready to do so. For one thing, digital feedback is more difficult to lose than paper feed.

Track students’ development

E-portfolios allow teachers to track their students’ learning across time. Teachers are able to see how students are improving and identify students that require more help.   

Enhance department assessment

Teachers can provide evidence that their feedback was rigorous and helpful.  

Demonstrating achievement

Storing evidence of work in one place enables students to demonstrate their achievements to others. In particular,