New Year, New PhD

celebration-1551593-639x918.jpgHappy New Year.  I start the New Year by starting my PhD with Lancaster University on e-Research and Technology Enhanced Learning after it being introduced to me by Sheila McNeill, fellow ALT trustee and all round techy superstar.    It’s a totally online programme with residential’s in the first and second years.  I am really looking forward to it, I am pleased to see that they use ePortfolios as a reflective tool and I am using tools I haven’t played around with before like Moodle and Mahara.

I’m feeling a little nervous about the huge undertaking that I have embarked on but I am really excited as I am sure I will be able to explore in depth somethings that I have been interested in for a while, like Open Badges, digital literacies and eportfolios (for assessment).    I am also looking forward to finding out who the others are on the programme as some of them have put up details in their profiles and they are a varied bunch.

There are a couple of the papers as pre-reading and it was interesting to read about perceptions of what a PhD is.  For most of the interactions I have had with PhD students, their PhD’s have been about learning how to research for the sake of those skills.  They will then go on and do something completely different or they will become Faculty members.  In “Learning to Become Researching Professionals: The Case of the Doctorate of Education” by Alexis Taylor from Brunel University she talks about PhD’s as a tool for ‘researchers to become professional’ and then Professional Doctorate for ‘researching professionals’.  I like that, I can see exactly where she is coming from, but had never thought about this difference.  The other paper is a rather longer paper (32 pages) is a much more personal account from Justine Mercer “The Challenges of Insider Research in Educational Institutions: Wielding a double-edged sword and resolving delicate dilemmas” who writes about her perspective of two different areas of investigation into researchers where she works.  I’m halfway through, but I can relate to her views and have some questions about bias.

This is also a good opportunity to try out apps that I have read about and played with so I am using Liquid Text to read the PDFs on my iPad.  So far so good, I really like how I can link the notes and highlights together.

Raring to go and very excited about what I will bring into my work with this, so the ‘real thing’ starts Monday, working full time and doing this PhD will be fun (yikes) but I know it has to happen.




Using iPads wirelessly with university projectors

For three years, I have continually asked how we can do this and thanks to the latest update from Apple, we can now use iPads wirelessly with projectors.   Two directors of our IT department and senior leadership have confirmed this to be working well.

Instructions (with thanks to Professor Simon Cox who has tried this out successfully within his lectures)

Both the iPad and the AppleTV need to be on the latest version of the OS (8 for the iPad and it needs to be the most recent hardware of the AppleTV A1469 to work)

See e.g.

This link has further help:

Toggling the Bluetooth on can also help with the peer to peer iPad to AppleTV as per the link above.

Problems we have heard of have been older generation iPads.  Probably works on an iPhone too if you have the latest one.

The Great Wall

Today I was taken on a tour of the Great Wall. We travelled to Yanquing, Changping & Chaoyang. Stephen Gomez (HEA/Plymouth and soon Pearsons) and I travelled by a tour bus along to the Ming Tombs. At the Ming tombs our guide, Christine showed us a number of antiques and explained that the emperors tomb was in the mountain and that until they had the technology to prevent any destruction of the tombs they would not be excavating it. She taught us about a Chinese symbol for the dynasty or royalty ( I can’t remember but it was three horizontal lines, with a dot under the bottom right corner with a square around the whole thing to represent the land. It was really interesting. Then to the Jade Factory where we had an early traditional Chinese meal and then to the Great Wall. I was quite impressed at my use of chopsticks. It was very busy, we had to queue for over an hour, but the sun was shining and many of the people in the line were of variety of nationalities so we had a chat with them. Our tour only had 6 people and some of them walked up the wall. We decided to pay the £10 or 100RMB? to use the cable car. At the top we walked along the wall up to the tower and then turned round and queued to get down again. But it was a beautiful day and we had a great time. On the way back we stopped at the Silk factory and I bought a silk duvet and two pillows! They showed us how they made the silk there. The photos below are from the whole day. I forgot to mention that we also went through the Olympic Village and we saw the Bubble Cube and Birds Nest.





Association of Learning and Teaching SIG MOOCs

I am rather excited, as I am one of the officers for the new ALT SIG on MOOCs. Mira Vogel and Steven Ryan are the other Officers.  We have set up the Twitter account, @altsigmooc and the MOOC squad wordpress site has been created but nothing on there as yet.  We are in process of readying ourselves for the launch in September at the ALTc  where Stephen Downes will be the keynote, along with Dame Wendy Hall from right here at University of Southampton.  I’m interested to hear what Stephen Downes thinks about the xMOOC chatter as opposed to the cMOOC chatter that started it all.

So next steps are sorting out what we will be launching with in September.  There is an opportunity now to get involved with the ALT SIG – this was tweeted by ALT last week there is a sign up link at the bottom of the page.

All very exciting and I’m looking forward to getting stuck into yet another new project 🙂 #whoknew

photo credit: cogdogblog via photopin cc