What am I?

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Thriving for a new balance

Something hard to maintain in my working life as a learning technologist is the thing called 'balance'. On a daily basis, there seems to be too much technology and not enough learning. When software developers work hard on improving their products, it's often to the detriment of the usability of the very same products. Even in cases where a closer look might indeed reveal that a certain bit of functionality has 'enhanced' the product, this comes at a cost for the general user (me?). One factor in the game is certainly: humans are creatures of habit. Let's look at the small things, for example, the position of a button. I might have used a particular button in 'autopilot' mode for years. When the position of this very button is changed, it leaves me in ... what? Correct. Great frustration. It gets worse (a lot!) when the functionality within the software changes, and I can no longer do things in the same way I got used to doing them. Trivial? Yes, it is. And at the same time, it's also quite important, because it can mean that 'getting to grips with using a particular technology' can obscure the purpose of why I'm using it in the first place.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

My highlights from BLTC 2018

On 14 June 2018 we had our annual Brookes Learning and Teaching Conference. As usual, it was tricky to choose from the parallel sessions in the various strands (discipline, students, staff, and environment). I tried to create a mixture for myself, of 'things to do with technology in learning and teaching', and 'things I'd like to learn more about'. In the latter category, my absolute highlight was 'The Living Lecture'. The two presenters had a (comparatively) large audience which they took along through the presentation in a very lively and - dare I say it? - uplifting way. We were actively involved in the session, using 'Flinga', a free tool (created in Finnland) which allows the collaborative creation of content online in the classroom, using our mobiles. Here is a screenshot, showing the outcome of one of the short Flinga sessions:


I never thought about lecturing as a craft, hence I was really intrigued to hear how one can actually learn/improve this 'craft'. I recorded a short snippet with my mobile, which talks about "the self-care dimension" of teaching. It shows that teaching has a lot to do with acting, and thus skills acquired in an acting class can improve lecturing:




So much for now ... there is more I'd like to talk about, but I'm running out of time :)

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Going round in circles with 23 Things?

I failed miserably to attend to 23 Things. Thing 3 (Digital Footprints), with the task to google my own name, took me back to an ancient blog posting in an old blog of mine, where I attended a course which tasked me to do exactly that: google my own name:

http://lilabowies-attic-log.blogspot.co.uk/2007/11/trying-to-remember.html

So I thought 'been there, done that ...' ;) and gave up for a while. Today I resumed my feeble efforts. At least doing it again nearly 11 years later had a different result, more consistent and quite strongly related to my current work. Some of the very old stuff does not come up any longer, which I find reassuring. I liked the discovery that Discogs created a very neat overview of the CD covers I designed quite a few years ago, although a few are missing:

I followed some (very basic!) advice before googling my name:


Quite useful. It's interesting when limiting the search to different ways of spelling my name because my surname has a German 'Umlaut', which has been 'forgotten' when I started working in my current position - quite a few years ago. Feeling quite lucky that I seem to have a name which does not bring up nasty associations. Not sure if I should be more worried about the 'professionalism' of my online presence. I quite like the mix of links, thinking I'm a little more than just a learning technologist. I like the fact that a few of my photo adventures turn up in the list, and it's perfectly okay for the world to know that I think the UPP (Ultimate Picture Palace) is a fantastic cinema ... Need to move on before I get stuck in too many 'things from the past' conjured up by Google ... :)


Tuesday, 10 April 2018

23 Things for Digital Knowledge

I just registered for this self-paced course for digital and online skills, initiated by the University of Edinburgh, see https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/learning-technology/social-tools/23things

So. The question is: why did I do this when I should already have an 'okay' level of digital skills, being a learning technologist? The short answer is: I'm on a mission to get into a more regular blogging habit. I still find it quite difficult to write a blog, and I am in awe of people who manage to write down what goes through their minds in an uncomplicated, personal yet competent fashion. I still find it really difficult to stop agonising over words and ways of expressing things. Quite often, I resort to photographs, not only because a picture says more than a thousand words, but rather because that's so much easier for me. But even with photographs I often need to take my time. Hence my 'Blip' photos only come once a month rather than every day. For those who don't know: Blipfoto is a photo journal site: https://www.blipfoto.com/, Very much worth exploring further. Here's the link to my 'blipjournal': https://www.blipfoto.com/lilabowie. Of course, I also run a 'one photo a day' diary on my mobile. The app is called 'Day One Classic' (there are follow-ups, but I like the simple original version). And in fact, so far, I did manage to add an entry every single day for the past 3 years. The reason why this one works so much easier for me: it's private! And now I'm going to publish this slightly inconsistent entry without agonising over it ...