Back from a quick weekend break to Shetland. The views from our hotel window in Lerwick was amazing:Niall spent a lot of time looking at divers and working out what they were:


We didn’t see many Shetland ponies, but here is one:

Shetland pony

No puffins, either,but many, many fulmars:


and a bolshie seagull, waiting to cross the road:

Who are you looking at?

Lots of sheep:


Hundreds of guillemots:


And, as we headed back to the airport, we had to wait as the air ambulance crossed over the road:


A beautiful place for a short break:


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Don’t kill the messenger

It’s no surprise to find that Jeremy Hunt is talking rubbish again this week. In a Guardian article we hear that he is proposing a universal social media limit for every child. Sound good? Maybe – except that there’s no evidence to suggest that this policy is necessary.

Politicians – pfff. Not worth wasting typing time on. But there’s an undercurrent here (of course) about controlling the masses, and I suspect Hunt and his cronies are trying to attempt to control our non-state-controlled means of communication. Of course social media can be misused, but the frequent dissing of social media, and the emphasis on studies purporting to show how social media is bad for us, in one way or another, just annoy me. Social media is so important to me – it’s how I communicate, participate, and learn. I was reminded of this earlier when Verena asked the following question:

Like anything else, it depends how it’s used. But don’t kill the messenger if you find others using it badly. For some of us, it is our community, our affinity space, our home.

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Spring is coming, finally. It’s been a hard winter and I think the blooms are 2-3 weeks later than last year, but looking out at my garden I see an explosion of forsythia blooms, and our narcissi and daffodils are cheerfully poking up under our fruit trees. Last October, when I was down for one sister’s 50th birthday, my youngest sister and her daughter gave me a pack of Cornish daffodil buds called “Loveday”. I don’t mention this much, but that’s my middle name (dad’s Cornish, and when mum was looking for names for me she came across this as a Cornish name). I never expect too much from our bulbs – what with the frost and the squirrels, but so far four have bloomed. Here’s one – I think it’s beautiful.

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For the last few weeks I’ve been watching a plan unfold, from the initial glimmering of an idea to glorious technicolour explosion. Moshie took our brief – to design an alchemy lab – and stunned us with her beautiful, detailed drawings. Niall worked his magic and turned these 2D drawings into a 360 degree VR lab. Kevin put together a Thinglink and populated it with the images and all of the submissions. Wendy did some H5P magic and lots of other stuff. We (Wendy, Kevin, Todd and I) put out a call for people to select icons (taken from the lab drawings) and submit an object back to us based on various themes, and are thrilled that there are about 50 of these now displayed in the lab. But you don’t want to sit here reading about it, do you – come and look around the lab for yourself. If you have a VR headset, you can use that for the immersive experience, but it also works on mobile or desktop. At the end there’s also an opportunity to get involved in some remixing, so if you’re feeling left out, here’s your chance to join in.

Image by Moshie

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Happy Easter

Today, as part of the drawing challenge some of us are participating in, I made a gif. Happy Easter, everybody.

Posted in #CLMOOC, GIMP | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments


Today I started to learn bootstrap, thanks to a conversation with somebody who thought I was more competent than I think I am. So far all I have learnt is the basics, like how to add background colours, and how to use this skill to write a poem for today’s Daily Create:

Posted in DailyCreate, DS106 | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Abstract, repeat, emote

This post is inspired by a phrase Amy Burvall said in the latest netnarr hangout :

  • Abstraction
  • Repetition
  • Emotion

I took one of Susan’s pictures and abstracted the star from it by using Paint:

Then I used the star to create nine images – first with one star in a white square, then two, then three, right up to nine:

Next I launched GIMP and opened all nine files as layers, exported as a gif, and uploaded the result to


I’m still thinking about how to represent the emotions on top of this …

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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