What is Leadership? – Seth Godin’s workshop

I have signed up for Seth Godin’s Leadership workshop.  A Mooc with Udemy.  It’s actually more of an online course for lots of people. It wasn’t free, it was £13 (special offer, 83% discount) so I thought I’d give it a go.

So each week I should be completing my leadership notebook, this week I have some question prompts to complete which I share on my blog.  All good fun, and hopefully I’ll learn something along the way.

An example of someone I respect leading

Miles voting for the first time, for himself!
Miles voting for the first time – for himself!

My son is now 21 and since he was 18 he has been encouraging and leading people to vote in local and national elections. He is a natural organiser and has been working tirelessly for the Green Party to encourage others to vote and to rally around and offer support. I was amazed that he was confident and willing to speak to the general public and he has inspired others his own age to stand for election and take an interest in local politics.

How I choose to lead

I am always looking at new and hopefully innovative and useful ways for engaging with technology enhanced learning. One of the ways that I have shown leadership is leading by example.  I am inspired by exploring and trying new ideas that I have read about or have experienced through talking to people or working with some amazing individuals, both students and staff.  In terms of the difference between managing and leading, for me its more exciting to be leading a new initiative, although I do find encouraging and working with my iChamps great fun too.  the difference is level of involvement and how much I can inspire while at the same time taking people forward.

Is leadership a choice? 

Is leadership a choice? er, yes.  Why would you not want to lead something as opposed to managing someone elses ideas initiatives?  Believing in the your work is a requirement to get anything to happen and why should anyone follow you if they don’t think that you can do it yourself? I hope I practice what I preach.

What change do I hope to make? 

In terms of what changes I am trying to make,  in terms of technology enhanced education, I am all about change for the better.  Taking forward ideas that doing the same things the same way as we have always done isn’t necessarily the right thing to do.  The world has moved on and HE seems to be the last bastion of resistance to changing practice. Opening up ideas and minds to the potential that we can teach and learn differently using technology and developing digital literacies skills to be more effective and efficient is what I am trying to do at Southampton.

Image: Photo by pedrosimoes7 – Creative Commons Attribution License  https://www.flickr.com/photos/46944516@N00



Everybody wants some (digital literacies skills)

Digital literacies (Fiona talking about them)
Hmm…digital literacies anyone?

We had a fantastic conference on March 8th, ‘Open Badges in HE’ (I wanted to call it BadgeCon but there you are) at the University of Southampton. Over 150 people attended in person, and 100 online, from around the world.  We were very fortunate to have both the UK and US perspectives on education using Open Badges with our keynotes, Doug Belshaw and Carla Casilli.  Both highly respected in the badge and education world, so it was a real honour to have them talk to us about the application and implementation of open badges in higher education.  We have captured a lot of what went on during the day via Storify and the iChamps are blogging about it.  It’s always after the event that the real conversations get started and I have already been talking to a range of people across the university and beyond, interested in how they might implement badges into their own practice.  It got me thinking about how everything that I am involved in revolves around digital literacies skills and competences.

In the last few months since I wrote my last blog post I have been here there and everywhere, but the underlying theme of the work I do, the research I undertake and the conferences I speak at, have always been digital literacies.  The importance of being able to work, live and learn effectively cannot be understated and I always bring it back to that one area.  Don’t ask people to run before they can walk.  If you are interested in implementing new curriculum support your staff and your students (or your customers and employees) to inform themselves of the concepts of digital literacies. Why is this important?  Don’t just assume they can or they know how to use hashtags, or that they will grasp concepts if they are not engaged in the global world.  I’m trying nor to use the phrase 21st Century skills (its 2016 folks) we have entered that space.

So, before you think about implementing a new concept or idea think digital literacies.  What are they?  Many before and after me will write reams about what they mean but essentially it is about communicating, creating, collaborating and critical thinking, with a bit of citizenship thrown in (lots of C’s).  Being digital literate isn’t a state that you will arrive at and tick a box saying ‘complete’.  It is something that is forever moving forward and is part of the life long learning set of skills, bring on the key phrases around agility and flexibility, being rigid and inflexible isn’t going to be an enabler to becoming effective  and efficient in a global world.


Up to much Fiona?

I have been remiss in recording where I have been talking and where I will be going over the year (2016), as I keep being asked I thought I’d give a little synopsis of where I have been and where I am yet to go.  My conclusion is that I am up to quite a lot, but it’s all good and useful for the work I do at the University of Southampton.

So, here goes


I gave a keynote to academics at the Open University in Milton Keynes.  I was talking about interesting and innovative solutions to common issues using technology enhanced learning.  The talk was entitled ‘Action not words’ just because the idea was that active learning was the key issue. These are my slides, not always useful because I use a lot of images but I have been asked for them anyway.

JISC Stakeholders forum – I was invited to this as part of my role for ALT.  This is interesting because I gain a perspective of FE, HE and also other education providers (apprenticeships etc) which is always interesting.  JISC are very interested in supporting at varying levels and to determine what their ‘offer’ should be.  Interesting times.

Women in Tech conference

Loved this.  I met awesome women and some cool men, all supporting equality of opportunity for careers in tech.  I was a panel speaker, talking about how digital literacies, in particularly communicating effectively online, supports women to promote themselves.  The panel was great, I was with YouTuber,

Fashion tech specialists, engineers and Mashable. Other speakers included Sky TV, Laterooms.com, Techcity UK and BBC.  Worth going if you can make the next one.  Look for the #WinTech16


At the University of Southampton, our Student Champion Network Group are part of the HEA Strategic Enhancement Programme activity.  I attended as a member of that group to meet with other partners and to hear about their activities. In particular it was good to hear about other student partnerships as well as internationalisation projects.  I also go to meet Sam Elkington who is the Academic Lead for Assessment and Feedback.  We had  a chat about incorporating technology enhanced learning into activities and what we are already doing with open badges.

The StoryStephan Caspar, Media Lead in ILIAD at the University of Southampton invited me to go to this innovative event. It was very diverse and held in Conway Hall which is a great venue. We heard from podcasters and archivists, including Wolfgang Wild and Helen Zaltzman (Podcaster).  They even had Werewolf biscuits.

ALT Committee meeting (London) – I love these because everyone is committed, enthusiastic and very positive. We had an interesting talk from a director of the Tinder Foundation (the training people not the dating people!) This activity fits very nicely with work I am involved in at University of Southampton, which is so often the case with ALT.

Big Bang Data exhibition – this was an educational trip for the iChamps to see how data can be visualised and hopefully bring to life some more of the technical implications of how we use data.  It was very interesting and was part of their CPD for their roles as champions of digital literacies.


Designing and Delivering a Quality HE Curriculum

I was a speaker for Inside Government Conference ‘Designing and Delivering a Quality Higher Education Curriculum’.  In particular my talk focussed on the value of digital literacies skills and how the use of students as partners for this development is important. Everyone loves the open badges at the moment and we use it to gather evidence of activities.  I met Professor Peter Lawler from Manchester who talked about their University College Curriculum Innovation model which is really nice.  There was a lot of interesting and useful talks, and a lot of interest in our iChamps.

Open Badges in HE – this was the day of the Badges.  Organised by a collective of awesome women and hosted by the University of Southampton we held a conference about the use of #OpenBadgesHE

Biennial International Conference on iPads in Higher Education – I am a speaker for this conference in San Francisco from 16-18th March.  I am going with Judith Lock and iChamp Charlie Cosstick.   We are all presenting papers on the use of iPads with the iChamps and for the projects that they work on.


I will be attending my residential for my PhD in Lancaster Uni at the beginning of April.  That will be great, I finally get to meet the other students on the programme and I have never been to Lancaster before (it’s a long way!).

I’ve been invited to talk on behalf of ALT as a special keynote Inside Government conference  on transforming learning with mobile technology in London.  On the same day I am attending the Apple organised mini conference in the pm back at Southampton. This is focussing on the use of iPads for medical education.

The Disruptive Media Lab (I love that name)  in Coventry University  have asked me to come along and talk at their conference. I think we are planning to present together so we can cover Open Badges.  So that’s going to be fun.


There are ALT meetings and also I have been invited to be keynote at a technology enhanced learning conference at the University of Portsmouth.  The programme looks brilliant and I am really excited to go along and talk there. I haven’t been there for a very long time so it will good to go along there again. I think the last time I was there was for a Second Life event which tells you how long that was.

I have just had a paper accepted for a conference on ePortfolios and experiential learning in Edinburgh in June.  That will be awesome.  I am hoping that my fellow colleagues from the University of Southampton can come along as well as I have submitted the paper about our project piloting the use of Open Badges and ePortfolios.  The conference is still accepting proposals, and looks like it will be a busy three days.





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.




Open Badges, Digital Skills and O2

I was invited to the launch of the Open Badge Academy at Air Street in London, the HQ of Telefonica (O2) yesterday.  Hosted by the TechPartnership which used to be eSkills we were introduced to the latest system for issuing, creating and displaying open badges.  They are built on the open standard created by Mozilla and it looks very impressive.  The system was supported by Digital Me and Makewav.es both based in Leeds and have huge expertise behind them.   There are sets of badges that are available and being trialled by 14-16 year olds, around Cybersecurity and Employability.  The event had attracted a great range of employers, local authority members, SME’s and of big employers like Samsung and our hosts, O2.  There were a few start ups that were interested in how they could vet employees using  badges and our conversations were around the importance of digital skills for the digital economy.

The format of the event was for an introduction, demo and then a couple of break out sessions. I attended a break out session from TAS who are a company with 300,000 employees, 9,000 in the UK. They already offer online challenges, so a Badge was a natural extension for them. They offer their badges to school children and the teachers organise and issue the badge to their own pupils.  I did ask a question about copy right and who owns the data.   I was thinking that if one of the tasks that the pupils did to earn a badge was to create a 6 second video, then who owned the video once it was uploaded into a system?  My reasoning was not to disrupt but to think about the implications of use, for the person uploading as they may want to earn another badge from another employer,  which might entail them using the same video.  In their minds, they created and own the video but what if the organisation issuing the badge decided to use the video as a promotion for their activities?  Who can say yes and no?  The question was answered in the next session when we discovered that the Tech partnership owned the content.  I don’t think there was anything particularly unsual about that, common practice (you are the product after all) but I think awareness of the fact that your creations may not stay your creations and the implications to that are important to consider.

I do like the Open Badge Academy.  It was very sleek and nicely designed.  It seemed very useful as well. It isn’t another displaying system, it allows the creation of the badge, endorsements, the ability to see who else has the same badge and how you are part of a community.  It was also connected to LinkedIn (that is how your recommendations happen).  It is free to education to use and worth taking a look at.

If you are interested in Open Badges in Higher Education then look out for further information about the Badge Conference to be held at the University of Southampton on March 8th 2016.  We are planning the conference now with colleagues from Warwick, Open University, Sussex and now South Wales.  More details to follow.