Seven life lessons I’ve learned from riding mountain bikes

Perhaps its a symptom of getting older, but I see far more connections between seemingly unrelated things these days. If it was twenty years ago and I was still embroiled in my pitiful attempt at a PhD in maths then I’d have probably called them homomorphisms. Mappings of concepts from one part of life on to another completely unrelated one on the assumption that the underlying rules of each system are more or less consistent.

In Layman’s terms – I draw a lot of parallels between things.

Of course I’m not the only one, as a very quick autocomplete check on Google will attest to…

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The most recent ones that has been striking me, possibly because I’ve been doing a lot more of both recently, are the parallels between riding off-road bikes and making life decisions.  Read more Seven life lessons I’ve learned from riding mountain bikes

On conferences

I admitted before the start of this week’s SSCC conference that I really had no idea what to expect. Since bidding au revoir to the edtech community earlier this year I’ve been on a steep learning curve in the world of student services, and this would be the first opportunity for me to meet with a couple of hundred peers working in this area. Like Barnaby Joyce wandering into a live radio interview I made naive comment about my wide-eyed wonder of what the conference would be like into the Twittersphere and received this gem back from Mark Smithers:

  
I am glad people like Mark exist. For every kool-aid drinking happy-clapper like me, there needs to be an equal and opposite force, in all their curmudgeonly glory. It promotes critical thought for those who are willing to reflect on it. It stops us all from blindly believing the hype.

In this case, it spawned a blog post, because as the conference draws to a close, I can see he was absolutely right. Now at this point I’ll also say that the presentations within the conference were, for me, excellent. I could write another whole blog post on the content, but for those already working in university student services it might not be anything new. For me however, the sessions alone made it worth coming. But this post isn’t about the content, it is about the networking.
Read more On conferences

How I lost my faith in the LMS (or ‘my journey towards LMS nihilism’)

It was a couple of weeks back now when I threw out a tweet asking what my next blog post should be, and as I should have predicted, it came back with the one that is probably the hardest for me to write.

Then, while all sorts of thoughts were rattling around in my head, Phil Hill’s post took quite a bit of wind out of my sails by articulating very neatly a lot of the stuff that I was mulling over. What Phil’s post also did however was to make me realise that my faith in edtech on the whole wasn’t the issue – it was far more my faith in the LMS.

What I did think was still worth doing in spite of Phil’s post was creating a bit more of a personal view of my own journey towards LMS nihilism, which is what I’m going to share here. First though, you’ll need to permit me to wander a little. Read more How I lost my faith in the LMS (or ‘my journey towards LMS nihilism’)

Flinders University – a new challenge

Flinders_University_logoFirst up, the (now somewhat old) news – I will be leaving NetSpot/Blackboard next week to take up a position at Flinders University here in the south of Adelaide, heading up a student services project which is one of a number of significant investments being made by Flinders at the moment. If that’s all you came here to find out, then you can stop reading now. Read more Flinders University – a new challenge

Learning Analytics – bridging the interpretation gap

First up, I’d like to thank Simon Buckingham-Shum for his recent post on learning analytics. Rarely do I read a blog post which not only considers an ‘entry level’ question, but also then follows through multiple steps in the analysis of the topic in the way this post did. When I read the post I had the unnerving sense that the author had already thought through every question I might have considered, and answered it before I could pause to take a breath and even form the question properly in my head. I’ve been mulling the post over for the last week, and I decided that I really needed to put his post in context alongside some of my own thoughts (even if this is, in academic terms, like parking a Bugatti Veyron ‘in context alongside’ a Toyota Corolla, but never mind). Read more Learning Analytics – bridging the interpretation gap

Zen and the art of Learning Analytics

I was fortunate this week to travel to Dunedin on the South island of New Zealand to attend the ascilite 2014 conference, and one of the notable aspects of the program for me this year was the number of papers relating to learning/learner analytics in some shape or form. While there have been papers relating to this field dating back as far as the 1999 ascilite conference, this year for me was the year that analytics really emerged as one of the dominant topics of conversation. The most encouraging thing for me though was that the analytics conversations appeared to be shifting away from the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of analytics to the ‘why’, which is where the real interest in analytics (and most other things) really lies. Read more Zen and the art of Learning Analytics

Virtual first – redefining ‘normal’ in a blended team

cc licensed via Steve SnodgrassMuch has been said over the years about the rise of virtual teams, including the benefits and drawbacks of remote workers and those staunchly for and against it. Not nearly as much has been said (or that I’ve seen anyway) on the topic of blended teams, where some staff are located in the same physical place and others are located elsewhere and working virtually.

Read more Virtual first – redefining ‘normal’ in a blended team

Creating vision from culture

cc licensed via EladeManu: https://www.flickr.com/photos/24141546@N06/

As many of you know, I’ve been leading the NetSpot Consulting team (among others) for the last few years, of which the last two have seen a significant upheaval after our acquisition by Blackboard, which has seen a heap of structural, procedural and scope changes in how we operate. This week I sat down to look at performance planning for the team for the second half of 2014 and quickly realised that the amount of change has left us (me included) needing a hit of the reset button to refocus on what exactly it is we’re looking to achieve as what we now are – a regional team representing a range of learning technologies (both open source and proprietary) as part of a much larger organisation which is going through its own huge internal changes.

Yes, you guessed it, I ended up writing a vision statement.

Read more Creating vision from culture

The management compass

Its been a while since I blogged, which is predominantly due to two factors. One – its been a busy twelve months, and to be honest a fairly rocky one. Two – my focus has shifted from what I’ve traditionally blogged about as my role has shifted into heading up the Consulting team for NetSpot & Blackboard in Australia, New Zealand and beyond. Read more The management compass

eduMedia Watch – don’t believe the hype

Apologies for thieving this image from Delimiter without permission - I'll take it down if its a problem.
Jonathan Holmes not believing the hype

I have a confession to make. I used to be a Media Watch junkie. Back in the day of Jonathan Holmes, I’d subscribe to the Media Watch podcast and it would be my staple viewing on work flights, enjoying Holmes’ dry wit and the work of the Media Watch team as they critiqued some of the more questionable cases of media coverage in Australia. One of my particular favourites was when they would pick up on media airtime that had started with ‘a new report’ being released that had been used as a basis for many more follow up stories, but with one problem – the original ‘report’ was either unverified in terms of its independence, or it was just completely bunk.

This week, I’ve been playing eduMedia Watch.

Read more eduMedia Watch – don’t believe the hype