Monday Meme April 23rd 2018

Create e-learning? Ring a bell?!!


One Million Girls – Commonwealth Education Pledge

onemilliongirlscommonweAlth education I didn’t want the week to pass without making some note of the recent Commonwealth Head of Government Meeting and the topic of girls education.

Girls education is one of the driving forces in my further study of Online and Distance Education, and e-learning. I believe technology enhanced learning will continue to be an area which can support the education of girls throughout the developing world as well as in the first world. Where my place could possibly be in that picture I don’t know yet, I just know I want to be in there helping!

As such I thought it would be good to share some of the resources and pieces I am bookmarking capturing this weeks news items on here as well on my Diigo collection. I hope these links and very brief overviews prove useful and interesting to others.

As an excellent introduction to education in the Commonwealth is Joanna Roper’s blog One in three young people live in the Commonwealth: education is the key to their future. Joanna is the FCO Special Envoy for Gender Equality and that sheer number one in three children lives in a Commonwealth country is amazing. Let’s make sure we see it as 33% of the world’s future and talent is in the Commonwealth – let’s make sure it is celebrated and enabled.

In the world a staggering 263 children are not in education. Girls are disproportionately affected. Whilst a lack of teachers and materials, school buildings and dangerous surroundings hinder education for all, for many girls even if that where overcome their access would be limited due to early marriage and child bearings, and the cultural dominance of education being a male bastion. Yet again and again we see that girls’ education not only benefits them personally but has a massive domino effect on communities at large.

If you educate a man, you educate an individual. But if you educate a woman, you educate a nation.png

During the CHOGM, the UK Government announced support to ensure one million girls across the Commonwealth have access to at least 12 years old education.

The details of this support can be seen in the Government’s April 17th 2018 press release: UK is making sure one million girls across the Commonwealth get a quality education

One of the leading voices in empowering girls via education has been Malala Yousafzai, famously a victim of an attempt on her life for accessing education in Pakistan, Malala has become an inspiration and champion for girl’s education and has campaigned tirelessly to ensure 12 years education for girls since her own horrific experience. Malala sent an impassioned open letter to the Heads of the Commonwealth ahead of their meeting, outlining the need and benefits of investing in education for girls which can be read here. How wonderful that she is being heard, but let’s continue to amplify her words – this is only the beginning for many and others have yet to be reached and convinced.

The Commonwealth Girls Education Fund were excellently represented at the Commonwealth Women’s Forum and please do visit their website to see how you can support their efforts of ensuring secondary/high school education for girls within the Commonwealth.


Monday Memes April 16th 2018

I love memes. I am that person. My best friend and I can have entire conversations in memes. I know they annoy people like word art as home decor and inspirational posters but hey, it’s my blog so ha! If it’s Monday, it’s meme day!

I can’t always find the original source but will try to acknowledge where I can!


E-Learning – Do Ever Get ‘The Guilts’?

Do you ever feel guilty about how you learn

Late last year, I gave Audible a go, the audio-book people. And with it came….guilt and I wondered who else experiences this.

The guilt comes from that old chestnut – it’s the easier way. Reading the book is the right way, the proper, the way that counts. Listening – a cop out. But as much I used to love going to bed with a good book, now I spend hours on a computer screen at work, to be followed by more hours of reading on and off screen for study not to mention I am as guilty as the next person for spending remaining time on more screens and social media. By the time I curl up into bed I am tired, my eyes are tired and listening to someone else read to me is a great wind down. But the guilt.

Obviously the virtuous countdown goes 1st Read It, 2nd Listen to It and 3rd Wait for the film to come out 😉

Then I thought if I was feeling a twinge of guilt for that, what about other ways we simplify or streamline life, and in that learning.

A lot of guilt I feel comes as a reaction to snobbery and judgement, of which there is plenty. When I first went to University it was not long after the change of Polytechnics to Universities. At school (a private school) we were encouraged to make sure we were applying to the ‘proper’ Universities. Here’s the zinger, I still tend to think like that. ‘So and so is going to X University. Proper X University?’

Now I think about how that applies to online and distance education. Of course, there has always been, is and will be judgement on something which remains in it’s relative youth. Here I am studying with the OU and so the question arises, is it good enough, is it as good as the ‘proper’. Yet, I don’t feel the guilt on this, I see the place the OU has in tertiary education, and a very important place at that, that allows for people’s circumstances. This is an institution for those who cannot attend the ‘proper’ in the same way as others. It’s track record speaks for itself. Okay maybe I do have the slightest twinge.

Whilst the idea of participation as a vital aspect of learning is now very much discussed, the idea of the teacher imparting knowledge in the more acquisition model still lingers for those of us with whom it was a basis on how we were taught but also, culturally in areas it remains a strong and highly revered form of teaching/learning. Here is one quote that reflects this from Nazarlou M K (2013) Research on Negative Effect on E-Learning, International Journal of Mobile Network Communications & Telematics ( IJMNCT) Vol. 3, No.2, April 2013:

It does not matter E- learning import advanced technology, it cannot substitute face-to-face communication between teacher and students and students and practical activity, mention less education of thousand- year of human’ history

I often wonder how online learning is viewed even amongst my friends and family – I don’t think we have discussed it! hang on a minute – do I judge how and what other people are learning virtually?!

Of course, we are right to have standards and the jokes about getting a degree off the back of a Kellogg’s packet are there for a reason. There are and will be dubious organisations, preying on people’s ambitions and hopes. But, this should not cloud the authenticity, credible and value of the many wonderful ways people can learn informally and formally, by distance, virtually and yes, learn enjoyably.

That one is a kicker isn’t it – enjoyment. I mean if you are enjoying it are you even really learning?! Isn’t study meant to be toil, sweat and tears, isn’t even fun learning meant to come with a dose of graft? And here comes the guilt again…

One of the most exciting things for me about online and virtual learning is the fact it can it can be enjoyable and deceiving – deceiving in that whats simplistic is often the most engaging. But here we come full circle and will people like me and my Audible, be beset by thinking what they are doing isn’t proper, worthwhile, will they feel guilty for taking the easier route.

I’d love to know – have you ever felt guilty about how you learn or judged for the route you have taken?

Now back to listening another Susan Hill book!


But, What is Learning?!

What is learning?
What is learning?

One of the most enlightening discussions on the Masters so far came from the, what initially seems innocuous, question ‘define learning’.

Surely, learning is just learning – you didn’t know stuff and then you know it. But, we all know learning is so much more than that and you can go on a journey of days if you set out to search the many definitions. (10 Definitions of LearningWhat is Learning, Exactly?, Learning – Wikipedia)

The idea that knowledge is a substance, something to be owned has long dominated our thinking. The idea of teachers or trainers pouring information into our brain, that it must be remembered and then is can be acted on still infiltrates a surprising amount of learning design. Now we see that participation plays a huge role. Learning is not linear nor passed down from level to another, unchanged or unchallenged. There are many in-depth writings on this very subject and if you are interested in reading more I suggest starting with Anna Sfard’s  On Two Metaphors of Learning 

In fact I was surprised when I was asked to write down my definition of learning which was:

” I see learning as acquiring (yes the a word) and/or being exposed to new or different points of view, facts, theories and processes which I can the use and/or cultivate to further my own performance, change/challenge my approach and/or feed my critical thinking.”

There is was – ‘acquisition’. But it goes far beyond just ‘getting’ the knowledge – there is doing, experimenting, participating. I appreciate the over use of and/or is fantastically annoying but hopefully it somehow gets across my idea that learning is multi-faceted; a network of roads so to speak rather than just the M1!

Proof of learning isn’t just built into completing a test and receiving a score. ‘Success’ is surely measured in so much more – the change of behaviour, thinking, the very act of taking part.

Someone wisely said to me as I awaited the result of my first assignment that it was so much more than the score; in fact the completion of the Masters will not be measured in the final % but the fact that it will have changed and challenged my thinking, opened up new ambitions and journeys, increased my participation in areas and introduced me to new crowds therein lies the success and proof of learning.

So, I would love to hear how other people would definite learning and whether just even thinking about that makes you question how you are using learning design because of your go to definition of what learning is. I know as a learning designer and trainer, it has made me question how often I throw information at people and then wonder why they just don’t get it and do what i want them to. Guilty, m’lud!

Whilst by its very nature I don’t think there is, or will be, a definitive definition of learning I think this is the greatest thing ever – because it means we will always be keen to keep discussing, refining and respecting it.

The one thing I am certain of is learning is movement, never staying in the same place and isn’t that a wonderful thought?!

Don’t Make Teachers and Homework the Big Bad Wolf!

Don't make teachers & homework the big bad wolf!
Don’t make teachers and homework the big bad wolf!!

I had one of those sad, tongue biting moments this week.

I went out for lunch with my mother to our favourite which was heaving with visitors and people enjoying the last week of the Easter holidays. as we took our seats, the people on the table next door were getting ready to leave – two women and four children all under seven years old I reckon (though I am notoriously bad at ageing children!) The two older boys were suitably excitable having been out, sat done and full of food; one of them became particularly boisterous.

And so began the ‘if you don’t behave. this is what will happen’

It started with the promise of 30 minutes time out in his room when they got home if he didn’t square up, but he didn’t. So bigger guns came out. The threat of no electronics – no Xbox, no phone, no kindle….but still he was more intent on thumping the other boy in the arm.

And do came the threat of all threats.

“When we get home I am going to make you do your homework!”

To back her up her friend chimed in “And Miss <teacher’s name> will come round to your house and make sure you are doing” whilst pulling the same scaring face as when you tell Halloween stories of the bogey man.

Now homework is a contentious issue and Miss <teacher’s name> may be a regular Miss Trenchbull but please can we not use teachers and homework as a big bad wolf?

The Great Catch Up & Why Last Minute is so Attractive

So, my blog has been very quiet since I started it!

But don’t worry, I have a good excuse. Life.

Sound familiar?

To catch up, I am now now into week 8 of of the first module of my MA in Online and Distance Education and am LOVING it but of course if all adds to that aforementioned excuse, life.

The blog laid idle as in January, after post-Christmas madness I then had to travel to Vegas (oh no, how awful 😉 ) for my company meeting, squeeze in a bit of a break and then home. Of course, as per the law of nature, I got a hideous chest infection on the way back so that took out some weeks. Plus work got extremely busy. And the MA officially started. Hang on, life realised that was the perfect time for the central heating to go crazy, for me to be messed about by various companies and be without heating and hot water for almost six weeks whilst Britain got hit by some of the worst winter weather for decades. Then my best friend and her new born had to visit (I mean I couldn’t pass up that) and Grandad came to stay and….and….and

Come the 17th March I was thinking I need to seriously get down to assignment #1, well it was due on 19th March! And yes I made the deadline, the timestamp for the assignment being uploaded – 1.13am 19th March 🙂 Well that’s life isn’t it?

Except in an alternative universe there is a Rebecca who didn’t have to travel in January, or entertain guests. She had fully working central heating and a very balanced, if not light, work life. She had ample time at her disposal and I can guarantee she too uploaded her assignment at 1/13am 19th March because I know Rebecca.

Caught perfectly by 

I am one of the many leave it until the last minute people. I am one of the moan about the deadline whilst simultaneously feeding off the adrenal rush it’s imminent approach brings. I am one of the ‘I work best under pressure/I work best when lots is happening/I thrive on the thrill of the deadline’. And, I live in fear of that approach catching up with me and biting me on the behind.

I am not alone and there is even some evidence procrastination can be beneficial.  Adam Grant (Professor of management and Psychology, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania) makes a good case for procrastination being a force for creative good in his New York Times article ‘Why I Taught Myself to Procrastinate‘ ( New York Times, Jan 16 2016)

And, I love psychologist Anna Abramowski’s quote:

“actively procrastinate display a certain level of self-reliance, autonomy and self-confidence because they are aware of the risk of subjecting themselves to last-minute pressures and still consciously decide to. That can be a good thing, because it stimulates creativity and enables them to engage in multiple tasks at the same time.” (The Guardian, “Why Do You Leave Things Until The Last Minute?”, Jun 8 2016)

But wouldn’t life be sweet if I was more organised and timely. If I could kick back my heels well in advance of the deadline, know I have the margin of time to add extra insights, correct any wrongs? Should I be heeding the warnings of studies that show the ‘last minuters’ risk lowering their grades (“Students who leave it to the last minute sacrifice better grades”)

Actually, during my recent company meeting we had some fantastic days of training on program management efficiencies, beating procrastination and managing stress. I am actively (trying) to put these in action but it’s hard not to think that a degree of my procrastination has become so ingrained, so addictive even, that I may be fighting a losing battle. However, even if I just make small indents I am convinced it will make life a little more bearable. That said, I am still handing in assignments at 1am later this year I can always fall back on the old excuse ‘life’ and admonish myself of any guilt for being a procrastination lover!

Learning Code with Santa

Are we all feeling festive?!

Santa Tracker - Learn Code!
Santa Tracker – Learn Code!

I am a sucker for all things Christmas and Santa related so what could be better than some online learning with Santa’s help?

As someone of a certain age whose entire coding experience at school was on a BBC Micro and involved 10 Print Hello 20 goto 10, and bar some html hasn’t much progressed beyond that, I couldn’t help but go to Google’s Santa Tracker and click on the Learn Code Lab section. I feel like I have missed the coding train so am always trying to learn a little more.

It is so exciting to see the many varied ways children (and the young at heart) can learn about coding online today, often in the forms of games. I’ve been playing (and learning!) moving Santa to the presents. What I love about this in particular is how clean and intuitive the interface is. No written instructions, a very simple show and do style with drag and drop. Bright and colourful, with the view code option optional and great feedback on how you can make the same moves with less code/blocks – presented in such a way that it does feel like ‘you got that wrong’ but an encouraging ‘hey, you know you could that with just two blocks’ really tipping your interest.

I find it very endearing and imagine children will whizz through it without even realising the knowledge they are soaking up like sponges.

I can’t wait to Code a Snowflake!


Where to start? HOW to start? Aren’t those questions that plague us all?!

Let me introduce myself. I am Rebecca and for the last 5 and a half years I have worked in corporate learning, created e-learning and studied via e-learning. Indeed as far back as 1998 I completed my MSc in Sociology of Sport and Sports Management, which in those days included very large files and books through the post and video cassettes!

Now, I am embarking on my MA in Online and Distance Education as I want to put what I have learnt so far in my worklife to the test, increase my horizons and become a better practitioner and innovator.

With all that in mind, I have decided to start this blog where I can share and keep track of news, information and resources that I find useful in my journey but also share my thoughts, worries, concerns and moments of downright confusion because isn’t it easier with support?!

So I hope you will join me, find my insights useful and I welcome your support and input too!

Though this blog will feature news, views and musings on e-learning and online/distance education I will also be putting some personal musings and everyday nonsense up to as I believe it is important that we approach this very subject as a whole with our life and isn’t it better when we all get to know one another?