Skip to main content

I am a "Flipped Academic" (Bruton 2012) driven by the passion I have for learning & teaching. Head of Digital Pedagogy at an HEI • National Teaching Fellow • Senior Fellow of Higher Education Academy • Apple Distinguished Educator
It's rude not to share.™


Test of PULSE

1 min read

A lead post to capture SPAM comments.


To My Sons

4 min read

I am writing this post as a letter to my two sons (8 & 14) in the hope that they will one day read this and make sense of the events that have been unfolding around them over the past few days.

To my youngest son, this evening I attended your school concert which ended with the whole school singing "World in Union" originally by Gustav Holt. It was such a poignant moment for me watching 400+ 7-10 year olds singing:

'Gathering together; One mind, one heart; Every creed, every colour; once joined and never apart'

It was heartbreaking looking at you all of "every creed, every colour" singing together at the end of a wonderful evening of song and dance where race, religion, colour or country of birth was not even a consideration. It was just an harmonious moment of humanity, presented through the innocence and wonderment that only children can really know.

All I can hope is that for each and every child in that concert they are blissfully unaware of the political and national turmoil that is being played out around them. However, unfortunately I fear that some children will be only too aware that their cultural heritage or their country of birth may well be something which they are now fearful of.

One day you will no doubt learn about this moment in history, both as an example of how powerful democracy can be, giving a voice to the people of a country to make a choice about their future, but also as a warning to future generations that this referendum has brought to the surface a hatred of others based purely on their country of birth.

I hope that over the course of the next few days, months and years that I am able to protect you from the news headlines that talk of "xenophobia" and hatred. I see no hatred in you towards others, a gift that only the innocence of youth can give, but I must make sure that I ensure you are never swayed to hate others in this way. Many are talking of financial troubles, but these will ultimately be dealt with and are less troubling. What I ask of you is that you never lose sight of this moment and you continue to enjoy your friendships with your peers regardless of their colour, race or faith.

To  my eldest son, you are much more aware of what is happening around you and you will need to have much more resolve & determination if those around you do not share our views of human kindness and togetherness. I am confident that your mother and I have guided you & given you the strength to pick out the fact from the fiction and to listen to your own heart and not the propaganda.

You are a strong young man and your strength will be needed, along with that of your peers, to ensure that the future of our country is one which recognises strength and value in cultural diversity where we see ourselves as equal regardless of our country of origin.

Despite some of the xenophobia that has emerged in the past few days I am confident that with your culturally diverse experiences and our parental guidance you will continue to treat others as equals and stand up for the rights of those who may not be able to do so themselves.

As a country we have a long journey ahead of us and the both of you and your generations are a most important part of that. I am sorry that this recent decision was out of your control, but I know that it will not change who you both are. Please continue to live your lives through the lyrics of the song I heard tonight:

Gathering together; One mind, one heart; Every creed, every colour; once joined and never apart'

All my love



Increasing productivity by treating email like a scheduled activity..

1 min read

I was reading this article on Medium & thinking about how we minimise distraction & maintain productivity. Notification syndrome is a distraction problem.

i am thinking of adding this to my email signature:


Thank you for getting in touch. In order to increase productivity & avoid destractions whilst working I only look at me emails at the following times:

08:00 - 09:00


16:00 - 17:00

if you send an email outside of these times I will endeavour to reply during the next email checking period.

if your email is urgent then please resend it and mark it as urgent so that I get notified separately of its urgency.


does anyone else use an email signature like this?


The challenges of maintaining OER repositories, but why we must never stop trying.

4 min read

There's nothing like a good twitter chat first thing on a Monday morning to get the brain into gear.

And there's nothing like a good twitter chat with some of the best OER people in the sector.

This conversation was triggered by the original post below:




Whilst the funding establkished a number of high quality OER repositories over the period of funding we are now seeing some (not all) of these dissapper into the ether.

What makes this particualry worrying is that Jorum (a national OER reposiroty that was also funded during the programme) is likey to close (sorry, "retire") soon.

The twitter conversation focussed on the use/effectiveness of OER repositories (and their vulnerability). The general consensus was that we should probably be looking at a LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe) model where we deposit the items in many places and use tools such as Solvonauts to aggregate and search of the content.

I proposed that Merlot had proven to be a sustainable model for a repository and although I do understand why this might meet with some resistance I thought it useful to outline why it has been particularly effective for me in supporting the development of staff in using OER (recognising also that I do undertand it's imperfections).

  1.  It has proven to be reliable. In every staff development session I have run, when a member of academic staff says "best you can't find any resources in subject xxxx" it has almost always provided a learning & teaching resource (not just a picture) which the staff member can actually use almost straught away.
  2. It's actually a place that staff feel confident starting to explore OER in. They can search a range of content (some not OER), but using the CC license search helps them to begin to understand that there is a distinction between openly licensed material and copyright material (and that each should be handled in different ways as a teaching resource).
  3. You can search in many ways. Most importantly you can search by subject area (and level of study). This is in fact one of the key features that has led me to using this repository as a starting point for staff new to OER. In my experience they leave the session with a resource and the ability to find something quickly to supplement their own resources.
  4. Most staff don't care whether it's CC licensed or not - they just want a resource. By using Merlot I can get them to see that there are a variety of resources (and licenses). Although I encourage them to seek out CC license materials what I really want to them to understand that there is a difference between open and closed licensing and how they can (or can't) use them.
  5. It's still there! Merlot started in 1997 & appears to have a sustainable model. I need somewhere I can point staff in the direction of, guide them in searching for OER resources and know they can keep going back there.

I acknowledge that for OER residents (rather than visitors) Merlot is not perhaps the first place to be looking for OER. In more advanced OER staff development sessions we of course explore the broader landscape of OER searching and use. In those sessions we explore Flickr (CC search), Google (CC Search), Xpert, Solvonauts & Jorum, as well as our own institutional OER repository.

But I am in no doubt that in most cases staff want to find out more about OER because Merlot has provided them with resources they actually wanted and can use in their teaching.

What I really want is to point them in the direction of Jorum from day 1, confident that material will be "findable" and actually there. How we acheive that is a good question and will need the community to work together on this to find a solution.


Up or Down Periscope.

3 min read

So Periscoping is the new craze on iOS.

If you don't have a clue what I am on about then check out the app details here:

In brief, Periscope is an iOS app that allows anyone with the app to broadcast video from their iOS camera to everyone else with the app. During this broadcast (of sound & video) other users can heart/like the broadcast and also post comments.

It remains to be seen whether this is likely to be a "fad" (there's only so many videos of people stuck in traffic jams I can take) or whether it has staying power, but being owned by Twitter seems to me to suggest it's here to stay.

Best not to judge something until you've tried it, so I did just that.

One Sunday morning I joined Tony Blackburn (of BBC Radio DJ fame) as he made his journey to the BBC radio station to do a show. Not particualry very interesting in itself, but what I think was quite interesting to observe was that a lot of his 150+ viewers turned it more into a Q&A session whereby he read the questions in the comments and responded.

Tony Blackburn 

It made me think about the way we might use this technology to deliver short Q&A sessions with staff & students. The "teacher" could use the app to broadcast from a live event or from a location which is relevant to the subject. An example might be an archaeological dig where it would not be feasible to get all the studnets to visit the site, but one student or staff member could visit the site & broadcast it live to the students who could interact by asking/answering questions or even directing the person broadcasting.

Another example is where the tutor might hold an assignment "drop in" session, broadcatsing it on Periscope with students asking questions via the comments system.

The real strength of this app is it's simplicity. Just a simple process to be get yourself broadcasting. It also saves the broadcast videos to your camera roll so you could upload them to youtube later if you wish to.

It's really trying to capture the "here and now" moments of our lives and allow others to get an insight into those lives. Of course there are a LOT of mundane broadcasts but there are also some really interesting ones beginning to emerge such as behind the scenes of tv/radio stations etc.

I also tried out a quick broadcast during an event being held by our Students' Union. It was a painless experience, select broadcast and away I went broadcasting! I no longer need a webcam, a pc or laptop to broadcast to the world.


Thanks to the 10 people who watched my short (less than 4 minutes) broadcasts!

It will be interesting to see how the app develops, I would perhaps like to see the ability to broadcast privately and not just publicly in order to allow for teachers to share a specific broadcast with only their class, also the ability to catgegorise broadcasts would be very useful.

Once the app becomes cross platform and more mainstream I think there will be lots of potential for it in learning & teaching. In amongst all of the "stuck in traffic" videos I am sure we will see the emergence of some really insightful, educating and entertaining broadcasts - there's just not many I've found yet!