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Design Museum

Taking Notes 2020

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I have to take notes or I remember little. Or I simple miss what was said. I learnt to deal with this two decades ago by using a dictaphone to record meetings. It made me listen back to what had been discussed to flesh out notes taken at the time and get a fuller insight into what was said, even having a chance to reflect on what was or what was not agreed and the emphasis people were putting on something. That was 1992.

Now I use a phone, to record voice notes, to snatch images of presentations, and what I missed in our Week 5 Class, one student joining remotely who was physically placed at a desk via a laptop so that they could listen in and observe. There would occasionally be a plaintive cry to turn him around or to answer a question. He could hear us and we could hear him perfectly well. Someone offered a story of a partner at a firm of solicitors being wheeled around on a trolley. There are movies where they do this well - science fiction becoming science fact.

If If take notes, old school, like in school or a lecture, then I will miss too much. I won't pick up on conversations, I wont be able to look up and see how the teacher/lecturer is answering a question, or pay proper to what and how a fellow student is replying. My problem, I am ADHD, is that everything is a stimulus to remember something, or think about something else: that font reminds me of a cereal packet, but which one? My fellow student takes photography - has she replaced my colleague who took photography who I only realised had left a week or so yet she has been gone since months ago. Or where have I seen that person before? Why do I recognise her? Is she a parent of a swimmer, someone from Lewes? I will be just as distractable as I go through my typed up, hand written and recorded notes days later but the cumulative time spent ought to mean that I fill in most of the gaps left by the previous pass. 



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Observations of good and poor practice in the classroom

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“The hardest and most time consuming prep for these classes are the slides.” This might be how our tutor feels - she said this a couple of weeks ago, but she’s cracked it with the cool, upbeat font and colours. That’s what would have me fretting for hours: what theme, what font … 

This week there is stuff we just must understand how to do, and why we have to do it. Using Google Classroom (as as student). The docs shared are templates personal to us. We just have to complete one of these and hit the ‘Hand In’ button when we are done.

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We were then taken through her expectations of what we need to include in each of these sections. Were Module 1 a written exam, then these would be ways (old school) to keep the examiner’s pen giving a tick. And the most likely way we will be tripped up is the process of handing in. [Beware using the term ‘to turn it in’ as this is now branded]. Habitually I would try to turn my Open University ‘Tutor Marked Assignments close to midnight. Like at 11:55pm. It caught me out more than once. Making sure I was ready at 11:45pm didn’t help much. It was only when I figured out I should turn something in the day before or a week before. Just get the flipping task over with!

Observations

We talked again about things we have observed in teaching that we consider good practice and poor practice. As we are invited to look online as well as see practice in college I have to wonder if we can stretch this to an episode of Waterloo Road, or Grange Hill, or my favourite ‘Sex Education’ which somehow created a bizzare, mid-Atlantic, international sixth form like college in the Welsh countryside colour-graded to look like the California. See British High School Television series. For the best representation of my school days see the film ‘If’, even ‘Tom Brown’s School Days’ or ‘Goodbye, Mr Chips’ even a bit of the original ‘St.Trinians’ for the all girls school (Casterton) down the road.  

Punishment and humiliation

I recall my own school days and individual classes vividly; there is no need for a schoolboy diary for this: chalk and board-rubbers being hurled across the room, boys being threatened with corporal punishment if they did badly in a test … and a teacher getting me to change my answers in a written exam that they were supervising … let alone humiliation for getting something wrong - despite my best efforts. 

Storytelling

Thinking of the positive, then it is the power of stories in Latin (Romulus and Remus and the foundation of Rome) - making something memorable, and on keeping a notebook of new words (tips for building vocabulary) (which I was told about age 12 or 13 and kept up for another 5 years), or trying to write a poem in French (even though I was rubbish at languages) and getting such great commitment and feedback from the teacher. And the teacher as a good disciplinarian who had our attention and respect, taught well beyond the needs of the exams to keep us motivated and would read every word of some of the very long homework essays I wrote and illustrated (Geography). In these three examples, the realisation that these three teachers were both interested in the pupil and their subject and wanted you to enjoy it as much as they clearly did. It was motivational. 

Feedback and being attentive to the individual

Likewise discussing some mad-cap immersive multi-sensory walk in/sit down ‘pod’ experience as an installation for an O’Level year group Art Class and being persuaded to take an interest in Opera. 

A Person’s Name

More up to date, like the last few days, rather than the last few decades, I shared the importance of knowing and using a students name, and checking what they would like to be called - Bella, not ‘Isabella’ or ‘Oliver’ not ‘Oli’ or nicknames like ‘Lolly’ rather than her name on the class list ‘Lahra’ - and getting Irish and Polish names correctly, whether Niahm, Siobhan or Saoirse, Wanda or Kasia. 

A chance to be heard

And then pronouncing it correctly and then using their name often. And then, like the Chair in any meeting, trying to ensure that everybody’s voice is heard - not just your own, or ‘hands up’ if you know the answer. 

Death by PowerPoint

Of course, avoiding ‘death by PowerPoint’ - the worst case of this being yet another ‘should have been retired’ historian, with no teaching experience, taking a class where, his back turned to us, he reads from one slide after another. In sharp contrast to lecturers I know who might put up 15 slides, each being an image as a catalyst or a prompt for discussion. And the best presenter ever, who provided a prose written text to cover, more or less, what he had SAID (unscripted) during the presentation. He was a barrister; he was used to talking in public.

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Design Museum

Can you post too often?

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Screenshot of using Screencastify Editor to merge two videos

Being digital I'd say not. 

I do two things regularly as an aide-memoire.

I keep a 'day diary' > once a closed blog, now simply a Google Doc broken into days of the week. I just bullet point and add the odd screenshot or link.

I am hit all week (my choice) by emails, or posts in Social Media . Of late these just get grabbed and weekly or even monthly added to a folder in Google Photos. It is surprising what I can find in there, but it works. I have the 2/4 PGCE classes I have attended as notes, some VoiceMemos, photos and screenshots. I will have to 'get these ducks in a line' sooner rather than later. Historically a process that foreshadows a TMA. I should try and do this ahead of each weekly face to face class so I am ready for any questions about what we have already done. I also need to be more knowledgeable of the two weeks I missed.

My immediate reflection is on the nature of the ever changing world of digital tools and platforms. Blink and they have upgraded, been bought by one of the big players (Microsoft or Google). Cynically I expect everyone of these to be able to do everything in due course. Google Meet will be like Sceencastify and no different to YouTube with plugins ... 

I've just done a simple edit of two Screencastify videos in the Screencastify Video Editor.

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Certification in Further Education and Training

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It's for real. I am, yet again, and possibly not for the last time, a student. Cool. I matriculated for my first degree 40 years ago. I've done three further undergrad and postgraduate courses since at each of the School of Communication Arts, The Open University and jointly between the Universities of Birmingham and Wolverhampton. I can now add the University of Brighton.

The smirk on my face is realising that I will once again have access to a library and university resources online, in particular journals. I love to explore. Some might call it getting lost down a rabbit hole, but I spend so long scratching about - with purpose, that I always come up with something interesting. It is how I learn. I indulge my curiosity.

Meanwhile, the approaching fear is for nothing more than a 'micro-teach' and some of the first formal assignment elements completed. I don't half make a big meal of these, which is why I so prefer to 'written exam' at the end of the year; I like the build up to the end of year show. It generally is alright on the night. I feel at this stage I don't know much, that I am not fluent.

My OU experience, which will be here in the data somewhere, is that over the five modules of the MAODE and the two further modules I did 'out of interest' and as an MRes looked a possibility with a PhD after that, my grades went from a pass, to a pass, to a pass and the occasional Merit and then a Distinction. An OU pass is anything over 40 and I did get a 42 for a TMA at some stage. My first TMA for the Research module came in with a cool 92 and the feedback from my tutor that I appeared to be in my 'natural environment' stripping apart the work of others, challenging assumptions and the facts and proposing better approaches. So much for not following that up sad 

We know why. I know why. ADHD gets into everything. It does manifest itself as a rogue 'one / off' switch, as procrastination or enthusiasm, and as self-doubt and mild paranoia, the choice that an easier route is better than the best route. 

Meanwhile, I have lessons to line up and classes to give. I will be running a workshop in November, and taking a class online each week imminently. I am also setting out my stall as it were, for a number of 'commercial' blended learning opportunities. 

The greatest pleasure of all of this, despite the challenges, is knowing what will be on my mind for the best part of two years: I will be returning to this blog and its contents and adding to it. I will be mulling it over, and then seeing where all theory and learning aimed at HE can be applied in FE. (Though at GBMET there are both and I am involved with both).

Onwards. 

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Design Museum

Parameters Help

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Use of Google Keep to create 'to do' lists

There's no escaping it. Of all the blog platforms I have used - THIS is the best. It helps that it is simple. It helps that you can't dick around by scheduling posts for two weeks then abandoning it. And when you get behind, unless I am mistaken - I cannot go back in time. And there is a word limit. And they squeeze file sizes if you post an image. You learn how to compress an image. Parameters help. 

I want to pick up on the PGCE I am taking. A blog is wanted. It started 5 weeks ago. I joined in week 3. I have kept notes in a doc for every class. I keep a 'work diary' daily anyway - no longer formally in a closed WordPress blog, but simply a Doc where I jot down names, people, tasks, links, some screenshots and images. Just enough to remind me what I was up to. Not much better than the Five Year Diary I kept in my teens (from age 13).

I'd like to think there is always enough to job your memory; to remind you what was going on. What 'reflective diary' needs though are feelings: what did I make of that? I did I feel about this? And honesty. So plenty of entries will be closed. And no names, not even initials. But something to indicate to me who I mean.

I am using Google Keep to manage my tasks and time. I like that I can create lots of shot lists of tasks to do to get a thing done. I can be guilty of noting tasks to do that are either such a low priority they will never get done ... or so tortuous that they will left to fester until the last minute. Tax returns come into this category. If I lived by lessons learnt I'd do the things I hate the most first. 

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Back to school

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How more topsy-turvy can it get when 7 years after completing my MAODE, and 2 years after completing an MA in British History and the First World War I return to College to train to gain a PGCE.

My thinking is that to better support teachers I should have come through teacher training, even if my end of things is digital support. I want to be more than a 'support teacher'. 

It has taken some fixing to do and some flexibility between various providers and my timetable but after a false start last year - I went off to be the Head Coach at a regional swimming club instead for 4 months, and after another false start joining this year's PGCE part-time cohort in week 3, I am not in and making a start.

There had been thoughts of my being able to skip the first year and providing of evidence of prior learning i.e. the MAODE, but the MAODE is aimed at teaching in HE (or was), not in FE or secondary where I now work.

I can see, not for the first time, that I will be dipping into this 10 year old 'learners journal' with good reason. I can dig out the learning theory I got so engaged with in the past and now see it applied, whether with 'age group' students or adult learners, which could be colleagues/educators in FE and HE or adult learners from the community.

On verra.

Can anyone offer words as I commence a journey I perhaps should have taken over a decade ago. Though the issue then, as now, is what do I, should I, or may I teach? Degrees in Geography, History and Education. HE study in the Creative Industries. A career in TV and video production. A Swim England qualified swim teacher and coach with 18 years experience ... 

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Design Museum

How does education develop a culture of continual improvement?

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Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and ‘Flow Theory’ and Japanese Kaizen in manufacturing were promoting the approach discussed here by Dylan William in the early 1990s. 

How come education, at least in the some parts of the public sector in the UK, has been so slow to evolve? 

Coursera was launched over 10 years ago to create the best learning and put it online. The Open University has been around for 50 years. 

Digital does not mean remote working, it means working with the very best resources in the classroom and workshop, some face to face, some blended, as self-paced learning and for revision.

It requires a culture of continual change and improvement, something I was closely invovled with throughout the 1990s. To say that education has not kept up denies the phenomenal success of some online learning brands. People are hungry for it. What is more, what you create for your class could be as effective for learners across the globe. 

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It's that time of year

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I'm checking out postgraduate degrees. I need to fill a void. I have the time to study, so that's what I need to be doing. I have areas of interest I wish to build on. 

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Design Museum

I decided to subscribe to the Times Educational Supplement

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Subscribing to a magazine is one thing; reading it is another.

What do you subscribe to?

I get Time Magazine, and Stand To! The journal of The Western Front Association. I should subscribe to Private Eye - every two weeks I am looking around my local corner shop for the latest edition. 

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Essential Listening for anyone interest in what makes humans super-learners: it's our brains stupid

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Sometimes getting stuck in traffic and listening to Radio 4 after 9 O'Clock comes with a bonus. 

Brian Cox and Robin Ince on our brains with neuroscientists David Eagleman and Gina Ripon with steal-the-show Conan O’Brien.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p08kn47j

Comedy can inform and makes it memorable. Look at me 9 hours after I caught it on the radio and listening to it over and taking notes. You should too. 



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Design Museum

Nothing lasts for long

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The new normal in education is constant change. Nothing I learn to do lasts long before a new, better, faster more intuitive way of doing the exact same thing comes along. 

Today I am:

shooting video with a gimbal on my iPhone

learning how to use Pear Deck

trying to take some time off work

trying to get reimbursed from some expenses

And as if these are not equally challenging, 'Estates' decide to lock me in the LRC. Thankfully I have learnt to keep my keys on me at all times - it has happened before.

That and just to make life a challenge I have applied for a job at the Open University ... and at Coventry University Online, and King's College London, and UCL, and ...

Well, you get the picture.

I like change and a challenge.

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Design Museum

All change for a new academic year

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I'm left looking like a bit of a miserable git. And what's with the eye-liner. And there's another falsehood here - I stand at my desk and have two screens. [Five if you include the iphone, ipad and imac also scattered around my desk].

The new normal? More like 'same as before'. I've been working at home since 17th March and long may it last. I have a better setup than they have ever been able to provide at college. 

Will Covid-19 really be seen as the watershed that at last sets us apart from the 20th century? You you have to have lived some of the 20th century to know the difference - at least 20, if not 25 or 30 years of it.

It's odd to feel in demand, even to have head-hunters calling. I am biding my time though. And in truth, do I want the anxiety that comes with a job change? There's a job going at the Open University; that would be an odd one. Back after 10 years. I should never have left?!



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Art History? Or squeeze in further units to gain an MeD

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 20 Oct 2020, 10:39

Do I need a fourth or fifth degree? Would I enjoy it? Of course.

Art History because I want to put this focus on my interest in the history of the First World War - it is artists of this period that would be my focus.

The MEd to keep my hand in. Or an MRes.

Or start a PhD to complete over several years while doing a PGCE at the other end.

All of these or just stick with the garden, Netflix and a bit of light reading. 

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It gets better

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Google Certified Educator Level 1 and Level 2

These have taken time to gain. It has been a real struggle for me - like learning French! It has required a little and often then some tightly structured learning with a lead educator, homework, support and repeated testing my skills. I even had a check list. Most tasks I had wanted to have done FIVE times before I sat the two 3 hour exams.

These are intensive and against the clock with the webcam open to check you say you say you are.

26 multiple choice questions followed by some 12 scenarios to complete, most with 2 to 3 parts, some more, some less.

My natural goal is to gain Certified Trainer in the next few months and pick up and retain Google Innovator in 2021. 

Thank you John Sowash for getting me there!


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Google Certified

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There was quite a bit about badges during my MAODE back in 2010-13. Have they taken off? No trivial achievement but these are being given out for Google Educator and many others. I have picked up certification for Thinglink and will be able to add further badges from Screencastify and Planet eStream. They have more meaning and have been better tested than almost all the MOOCs I have done with FutureLearn and Coursera. 

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The new learning and upskilling is relentless

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 23 Jul 2020, 09:53

The Google Certification Academy by John Sowash

You have to embrace it. THIS is the new 'normal'. Resistance is futile and will result in your becoming and being made redundant. I struggle to sympathise with certain senior academics who want to be fast-tracked to retirement because they have no desire to learn how to change the font size on a PowerPoint Presentation. This is not the problem. It is the unwillingness and lack of interest in EVERYTHING that is teaching and learning in the 20th Century.

As some punter said the other day, Covid-19 has surely kicked the old way of doing things back into the last century. 21st Century learning required this: online and digital. It requires proficiency with G Suite for Education, or the Microsoft or Apple equivalents. 

It is no longer any good to have your Grade 8 in music theory, even a degree or Masters without having at least a Grade 3 in music practice, better still Grade 8 or above.

Embrace it now.

And whatever you learn, expect things to change over and over and over again. Sometimes quite radically. It has taken me a good three years to adapt to 'blocks' used by blogs, sites and newsletter platforms for assembling content. But being the equivalent of electronic Post It notes they are easy to learn. Easier to learn from scratch perhaps.

But there are choices to make. Can I be as proficient with G Suite for Education, as the Microsoft equivalents. I have always had Macs; could I be was fluent with Microsoft.

And if you don't already touch-type, then find an app and learn. Or get used to using Voice Notes and transcribers - they're good to. I know people who do everything, texts and emails, using their voice.

Check out The Google Certification Academy 

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Google Certified Educator

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I'm a few days into working through my first couple of assignments from John Sowash. My goal is to get my off the starting block with Google Certified Educator 1 and Educator 2 so that I can more ambitiously pick up Trainer and Innovator recognition.

I far, far prefer John Sowash's approach than the formal Google Certified Educator online training. John is my teacher, my guide and even inspiration to get this done. 

This very uninspired header for my Class is because we're studying Ecology. I had wanted to add a bitmoji of me waving encouragingly at my students. Somehow I could not get the Apps to talk to eachother.

This is what I was after:





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Where do I start?

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Kineo Presenters discuss how to get students to do work before the course begins

I'm already doing a 7 x 1 1/2 hours studying to finally crack my Google Certification Level 1 and Level 2, wanting to get through to Trainer and Innovator.

Now I find that Coursera and FutureLearn are offering many courses for FREE. I've just signed up to an Introduction to Sustainability from Coursera. Usual cost £38, now free. And there are still plenty of goodies in OpenLearn ... which have always been free.  I'm finding out what else Coursera offer if GBMET (where I work) can be recognised and we share links to students.

Meanwhile I love this 30 Second tip from Kineo on how to get students to do prep-work. Simple. Call it module 1! 



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So much to report!

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In the last couple of weeks I have run x5 Google Meet sessions on using Screencastify as a means of delivering digital, online and remote learning. That has covered over 150 colleagues at Greater Brighton MET College. I have also done 4 sessions on the College TV Educational Licensing Platform Planet eStream - with another this week.

And I've been an attendee in 4 of these with several more this week.

Busy times indeed. And I have learnt so much by 'doing' rather than theorising.

I'll need to take some time out in the Summer to reflect on all of these. I ought to try and find the energy to right up things at the end of the day, if not at the end of the week This is a big ask. As it stands I keep a daily/weekly journal of what is going on ... in part so I also have a linear and chronological lay-out of what is going on for a point of reference. Otherwise I find with messages coming at me from multiple directions I risk getting lost. I do. I sometimes rely on people to remind me I was going to do a thing ... 

That is time and project management. 


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Gettting there? Or not? Where am I headed

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Will I pass muster as a Digital Scholar? 

A little less than a decade ago I wonder if others were already there and if I could meet the timeline. I know I am screaming through the platforms and pulling in theory. 

I am nothing academic. I would not call myself a scholar.  In fact my repeated experience is that far too many 'academics' are hopelessly divorced from the reality of how anyone is educated.

When did they run a few years of learning English in primary school in Tower Hamlets? When did they try to provide 300 Oxbridge Geography year two students with lectures online and all the other support needed to get them to an end of year formal exam?

The shift to digital has largely been facilitated by Covid-19, but there is fall out: tutors who disappear because they cannot handle having to admit to someone that they can barely use a mouse (let alone know what it is). Senior academics who would prefer to retire early than put their lacklustre lectures online. And they have always had someone else to type things up so thinking they know their war around a keyboard is ridiculous.




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Ask me :

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Screencastify

Planet eStream

Google Classroom 

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Payback after 10 years !

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From frontline trooper to recently commissioned, junior officer and rapid promotion.

Getting to grips with the tools for two years I am at last inching towards supporting senior lecturers, heads of department and management on what online learning looks like and how to implement it.

The nuts and bolts of particular tools is my daily activity, but there is at least awareness that what I have here over the last 10 years has value for learning planning and design.


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So much to say, so little time to say it!

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I am keeping a regular work journal. As I work in Learning Tech for an FE/HE College these are busy and educational times indeed!

I am online via Google Chat all day, with at least one, sometimes several Meets in a day. These include sessions with tutors/staff and students, typically on how to make the most of Google Meet or just digital literacy. I gave a team session on Screencastify last week and attend a weekly all staff session which has between 98 and 143 attending - so far.

Use of interactive platform ThingLink has become integral to our forthcoming online Open Day. There are now 360 degree images, many linked into 'tours' or with additional interactive elements, running for all five sites and a number of departments.

As the Digital Editor of an educational charity we have seen our followers double across social media, we use Facebook and Twitter. We have responded with seminars and quizzes by Zoom, more podcasts and videos and a monthly newsletter going out every week.

Local politics too has seen our first Full Town Council, alongside a weekly informal town council meeting - also on Zoom.

The swimming and sailing clubs are less active. Sailing on our inshore lake started again - but no rescue boats out. Swimming is down to land training and a lot of cycling.



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John Sowash

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I did a day with John Sowash who was live from his home in Brighton, Michigan. By chance, as the conferences he usually runs are done around the US. Because of lockdown he put it online.

It has taken me a week before I could take some time out to go through my notes. There is so much to pick up on, every day practicalities of using Google Suite for Education with short cuts and cool tips. 

It may be aimed at primary and secondary school students, but there is no reason not to have fun with FE and HE students and colleagues too. 

As well as mastering Google Classroom I need to make more use of things like Peardeck, Screencastify and Jamboard. 

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Too busy to blog

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Its a great place to be in some respects. But I barely have time to reflect or learning anything new as I am so busy having to do, do, do. This is G Suite for Education and in Meets several times a day with colleagues on the Digital Team, with staff or with students.

And then two or three times a week I will find myself back online doing a Zoom meet or quiz with different friends and family.  And even joined a Town Council Zoom meet. 

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