Archive for February, 2019

Webinar: Creating engaging conference abstracts

Thursday, February 14th, 2019


Image source 


Yesterday I ran a workshop on ‘Creating engaging conference abstracts’. There was good participation (about 15 people) and lots of interaction. Here is a summary of some of the key discussion points. I asked participants what their experience was of attending conferences, what was good and what was not so good. Here are some of the comments.


Getting an outside view of your work

Conferences are a great way of getting to meet others working in a similar space – opportunities to find out interesting and relevant stuff others are working on

Networking, sharing ideas and gathering feedback

Participation varies depending on the size. Smaller conference I am more at ease to network, mingle. Larger conferences I find a bit challenging

Always lovely to meet people in real-life who are part of my online network

At a large conference you really have to plan ahead and be strategic about which sessions you attend and perhaps debrief with colleagues at the end of each day who may have attended other sessions

Use the conference app and follow the Twitter hashtag. For our conference follow #WCOL2019 to keep up to date


It was a really enjoyable session and I hope participants found it useful. The session was recorded.

The online educator: people and pedagogy

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019


Image source 


I am currently participating in the FutureLearn MOOC ‘The online educator: people and pedagogy’. The MOOC is spread over 4 weeks, with 4 hours of learning per week. It explores four myths associated with e-learnings: that learning design is about technology and content; that innovation and accessibility are incompatible; that researching online learning is an ethics-free zone, and that educators’ online identities are irrelevant.


Week 1 covers disruption and design with the following topics: current developments in online teaching, navigating the hype about disruptive innovation, the relationship between content, technology, people and pedagogy in learning design, the challenges of meeting diverse students’ needs and he use of personas in creating relevant online courses. Week 2 focuses on innovation and accessibility, with the following topics: myths about accessibility and digital innovation, types of digital exclusion, finding and evaluating accessibility guidelines, and applying accessibility guidelines to your teaching. Week 3 focuses on ethical evaluation of online teaching, with the following topics: myths about researching and evaluating online teaching, evidence and ethics, navigating the hype around educational technology innovation, evaluating research reports, evaluating your own teaching innovations and ethical considerations when researching online teaching.  Finally, week 4 asks the question: who am I online, with the following topics, myths about online identity, the value to educators of a carefully constructed online identity, evaluating your own online identity and using Twitter to build an identity online.


The MOOC has a very clean look and feel, with content broken up into small chunks, content is complemented by short videos, quizzes, polls and links to relevant research papers.

Engaging conference titles

Thursday, February 7th, 2019


Image source 


With my colleague Orna Farrell I am running a workshop on Wednesday 13th February on writing good conference abstracts. The slides are available on SlideShare. This is in part to help participants prepare their submissions for the ICDE WCOL conference we are hosting in November.


One of the most important things is to have a really good title that will grab people’s attention. Below is a list of some suggestions for how you can achieve this. I’m very much looking forward to the workshop, which will be repeated in two webinars later this month.


  1. Based around a metaphor of some kind
    1. Cuban’s concept of the flight of the butterfly or the path of the bullet
    2. A kaleidoscope of digital technologies
    3. The entangled web: post-critical perspectives
    4. Moody MOOCS: An Exploration of Emotion in an LMOOC
    5. The story of MOOCs through loops: From disruptive to sustaining innovation models of higher education
    6. Helicopter view of current state of open education around the world
    7. Mind the gap: A critical guide to digital literacies
    8. The scary monster of Ed Tech: Future proof or future shock?
    9. A world of opportunities: digital technologies and literacies
    10. Snake oil - the hidden perils of digital technologies
    11. Can you Give me Sanctuary? Exploring the Transition Experiences of Refugees and Asylum Seekers to Online Distance Learning
  2. Comparisons:
    1. The rhetoric or reality of the promise of digital technologies
    2. Thunderbolt or Lightfoot? Doing Digital in the 21st Century
    3. Tales of open education from two islands: thrills, tensions and transformations
  3. Something controversial, which will get people’s attention
    1. The millennial generation: fact or fiction
    2. The affordances of digital technologies
    3. The good, the bad and the ugly about learning styles
    4. New media literacies
    5. The misleading power of metaphors for digital technologies
    6. Reframing digital literacies: Beyond flashy, flimsy and faddish models
  4. Provoke curiosity
    1. Hand written lecture notes are better than typing notes
    2. The common myths associated with using digital technologies for learning
    3. The future of digital technologies and learning: dystopia or utopia?
    4. If micro-credentialing is the answer, what is the question?
  5. A review of the state of the art on a topical issue
    1. Opening up Education: Open Educational Resources and Open Educational Practices
    2. Frameworks for Learning Design
    3. Best practice in Continuing Professional Development
    4. Traversing the digital landscape of Higher Education
  6. A variant on a well-known song or movie
    1. We don’t need no education: the changing nature of formal and informal learning  
    2. Jaws: snagging digital technologies from the jaws of a shark
    3. Are we living in the matrix: what is the reality of our engagement with digital technologies?
    4. Sliding doors: the ebb and flow of digital technologies
    5. The brave new world of opening up education
    6. The good, the bad and the ugly about learning styles
    7. La la land: is the promise of digital technologies fiction?
    8. Leave no trace: digital privacy and surveillance
  7. Alignment with the conference themes
    1. Transforming lives and societies through digital technologies
    2. What is the future of online education?
    3. Transformative online pedagogies: a review of the landscape
    4. Reimaging open pathways and new credentials for lifelong learning

The online educator: people and pedagogy

Thursday, February 7th, 2019



I have just signed up for this FutureLearn course, “The online educator: people and pedagogy”, offered by the Open University UK. The overview of the course states the following “As e-learning becomes ever-more widespread, online educators are being required to design learning experiences that engage and meet the needs of very diverse learners. The course explores four myths: that learning design is about technology and content; that innovation and accessibility are incompatible; that researching online learning is an ethics-free zone, and that educators’ online identities are irrelevant.” It looks really interesting and is very relevant to our #OpenTeach project on facilitating online learning which starts in April.

Professor Ros Sutherland

Thursday, February 7th, 2019


I was very sad to hear the news that Professor Ros Sutherland had passed away. She was a significant scholar and an influential head of the School of Education. Ros was a key inspiration for me when I worked at Bristol University in the late nineties. I have Ros to thank for getting me into socio-cultural perspectives and in particular activity theory. Ros was a very vibrant and bubbly person, with a passion for both her teaching and research. I had the pleasure of developing a master programme with her, which was jointly run by the School of Education and my department, the Institute for Learning and Research Technology. A brief tribute to her is available from the School of Education website. SS Britain also wrote a tribute to her. She will be sadly missed but her contribution to education will not be forgotten