Demystifying Doodles

I’ve been thinking a lot about creative processes recently – about how, if all one sees is the end product, it’s easy to assume that the creator produced it effortlessly. This morning, as I was doodling a happy birthday message for Susan, I was thinking about this again. Now, I don’t pretend that my doodles are works of creative genius, but I’ve picked up little tricks so that I can do them quickly, and not get bogged down in the process.

The first of these is to use a light box and printed letters in order to quickly trace shapes onto paper – it’s not that I can’t do this myself, but it makes it so much quicker this way. I also draw parallel lines in pencil to keep the writing straight, and rub them out before I start to colour.

Doing this means that I can spend all of my time on the fun part of the doodling – deciding how to colour the letters in, and then actually colouring them.

I still procrastinated for way too long doing this (I have a way overdue article to finish), but it gave me some time to think about what I wanted to write – or that’s my excuse.

I think it’s important to share processes like this with students as well – if all they see are the perfectly polished articles etc. that we produce, it’s easy for them to think of academic writing as something that only some people can do, and not to realise that it’s also based on tricks we’ve learnt to make it easier for us. I try to share my tricks with my students at essay writing time, but I’d like to do more about this.

Posted in #CLMOOC, Learning | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Generating assessment principles


What make a good assessment principle? Not unsurprisingly, I’ve been looking at David Nicol’s answers to this question. Here’s my representation of his answer to the question which I have taken from a 2007 keynote talk he gave – I’m finding that writing it out like this is helping me to understand how to explain it:

Take a key idea from published research and use this to generate a set of principles:

  • These principles should guide practitioners and be flexible,
  • There should be minimal overlap between them,
  • Each can be used alone,
  • When combined they are more powerful,
  • They help teachers to evaluate their practice.

In order for others to use them, you should develop/collate materials to go alongside them:

  • Case studies,
  • Explanations of why the key idea and principles were selected,
  • Published literature.

So what should the key idea be? Well, that’s the question. David’s current thinking is that it is about the ability to make evaluative judgements, and he believes this underpins all graduate attributes. However, exactly how this is articulated might be dependent on subject area, we posit.

“Stars” flickr photo by lisbokt shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

Posted in ASBS, Assessment, Feedback, Learning, Online learning, University | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments


I’ve been dying to shout this out loud, and now I can. As my Facebook friends will know, on March 1st I take up a two year secondment to our Adam Smith Business School as a Teaching Fellow working with David Nicol on assessment and feedback. I’m very excited to have a research and teaching post, and amused that in my contract I have to sign to abide by copyright rules about photocopying.

Watch this space ….

Posted in Learning, Online learning, Peer interaction, PhD, University | Tagged , , | 3 Comments



Little things can mean a lot. I helped a friend with a job application this week – for a job I really hope they get for lots of reasons. They remembered me talking about my button collection and brought one in as a present for me – just a spare button off a shirt, but it is such a thoughtful act. Now I have a designer button in my collection.

Posted in Gifting | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Giffing around

I’m really enjoying making gifs at the moment. Today I’ve been messing around with Giphy and my little frog jester that I drew for #NetNarr.

First I scanned my drawing to my PC and cropped it, then I used a combination of PPT and Paint to screen grab the image into three different places on screen. Then I used to make a slideshow and played around with the decoration options to add text and choose the backgrounds. Here’s a couple of results.

Posted in DS106, NetNarr, Photos | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

N+7 Poem

Today’s Daily Create challenge is to:

Write a poem using the N+7 form, conceived of by the French poets of the Oulipo movement. Choose a text, such as Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art,” and replace each noun in that text with the noun occurring seven entries below it in your dictionary. Next, try the exercise with one of your own poems. For more on the poets of the Oulipo, try this.

So, here’s a stanza of a collaborative sestina I wrote a while back:

Rhizomatic learning is very subjective.
It’s up to you, not up to Dave, what gets to count.
The important thing is not to worry, but be content
to mess around, mix it up – play
around. Be warned – rhizomatic learning can be invasive
and you might find it affects your regular practice

Here’s a handy N+ generator, and here’s the result:

Rhizomatic lecture is very subjective.
It’s up to you, not up to Dave, what gets to countermand.
The important thistle is not to wrapper, but be contingency
to metallurgist around, mob it up – play
around. Be warned – rhizomatic lecture can be invasive
and you might find it affirmations your rein prankster

Which gives a nice nod to #netnarr

Posted in DailyCreate, DS106, Poetry | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

One Trick Pony

I always feel the pressure is on a bit when it’s a Daily Create that I suggested – you’d think I’d have an idea about what to create when I submitted it, but I rarely do. So today, I’ve been thinking about what to do:

Nobody wants to be thought of as a one trick pony. But if you had a one trick pony, what would that trick be? Draw it, sing it, write about it.

In the end I decided to draw a pony head, turn it into a unicorn and make it into a Gif – I’m moderately pleased with the result.

So that’s my one trick pony’s trick – at a whim it transforms into a beautiful unicorn.

Posted in DailyCreate, DS106 | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

NetNarr DDA 132


It’s Burns Night this week, so for yesterday’s DDA (which I am doing late) I chose Robbie Burns’ Address to a Haggis, translated it into Portguese, then into Bulgarian, and then into English. Here’s the result:

Hagis Address
Honestly, your honest face,
Great boss of pudding running!
Abon them “Take your place,
Pain, envelopes or trauma:
Weale is worthy of grace
Like my ling is like lang.

The drift that moaned there,
Her strikes are like a distant hill,
His fist helped repair a mill
Over time, you need this,
While your pores are distilling them
Like the amber sphere.

His knife sees the peasant work,
Cut yourself ready,
By pulling his gut,
Like a ditch;
And then, what a glorious sight,
Stick-rick, rich!

After this horn of horn, they stretch effort:
Dale takes his ass, drives,
Even his “swel’d kytes belyve”
They are folded like drums;
Aldd Gidman, the master loves the roar,
“Betancity” rages.

There must be a French ranch,
Or there was a walnut,
Or the friction rotation made him throw away
Wi Scunner perfect,
Look down with contemptuous eyesight

Poor devil! see it, I owe it to you,
Like a rash,
His spindle produces whiplash,
His snow to the rim;
Because a bloody flood or an escape,
How wrong!

But highlight the peasant, haggis-fed,
The shaking land sounded on the floor,
A crack in his beard, he carried a blade,
He will do it alone;
The legs of the hand, the heads will fall,
Like thorn cranes.

Pow’rs to worry about humanity,
And lock them out of the bill or odds,
Old Scotland wants to wander
Which games in the trunk:
But if you wish your grateful prayer,
Take Haggis

And here’s the original:

Address to a Haggis
Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin’-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye worthy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o need,
While thro your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An cut you up wi ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive:
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
The auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
‘Bethankit’ hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect scunner,
Looks down wi sneering, scornfu view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He’ll make it whissle;
An legs an arms, an heads will sned,
Like taps o thrissle.

Ye Pow’rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies:
But, if ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis

Posted in Scotland | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Free as a bird

I wanted to make a gif today. I’d been reading about how to do this in GIMP, and a cold, damp Saturday seemed like the perfect day to experiment. So I doodled a little bird and scanned it to my computer so I could get two identical images. Then I drew a set of wings on each and coloured them both in.





After that I scanned them both back to my PC, cropped them in Paint, and opened them both in GIMP as layers. It was then easy to export the result as a .gif by changing the extension and there it is – one little bird flapping its wings.

Posted in #CLMOOC | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment



I love buttons. This is the contents of my button tin, tipped out onto one of my favourite trays. I’ve been collecting these buttons for as long as I can remember – some were handed down by great grandmothers, some were spare buttons from clothes long gone, others (like the frogs, ducks and butterflies) bought online because they caught my fancy. In the middle of the picture are three silver buttons with stars – spares from my wedding dress which I made myself five years ago. When I was a child, I used to tip out my buttons on to one of mum’s trays and sift through them looking for my favourites – a starfish, some that look like a robot face, others I think are pretty.


And then some ugly ones – big, brown monstrosities – who would choose these?


So many memories contained in one small tin. Perfect.

Posted in #CLMOOC, Misc, Photos | Tagged , , | 3 Comments