What I did last summer

To state the obvious, I have blogging block — a fairly chronic case of it. The reasons for this, and my abortive attempts to overcome it, are fascinating from one perspective; self-indulgent from another. Therein lies part of the riddle that has undone me. Suffice to say, for now, that I still believe in the value of reflective writing about experience, and of sharing half-formed thoughts as part of a conversation with people who share my interests. I plan to get back to it.

Lest you imagine that I have just been convolving with my navel these past months, here’s a quick resumé of recent and current projects:

  • Working with University of Derby Online to explore the feasibility of developing online Access to HE provision. This was a small project and in one sense it focused on a very specific question within quite a restricted canvas. In another sense it raised big issues about how to make Higher Education more accessible, less rigid and better suited to the lives of people who weren’t ‘bred’ to be full-time students. More agile, in my terminology.
  • Working with the Higher Education Academy to advise how to reorient their online resources to make them more useful to the diverse communities of practice — across HE teaching — that the Academy supports.There are subtle, but profound, changes afoot as national agencies navigate the transition from publisher-cum-gatekeeper role to being more facilitative in the era when open online resources are distributed and abundant.
  • Managing a project to identify the support that scholarly socities need to make the transition to Gold Open Access publishing, which has been given a shot in the arm in the UK by the Finch Report. Our project then aims to commission or produce resources to help meet those needs for support. I’m project manager on behalf of the Association for Learning Technology (ALT), who have been commissioned by the Open Access Implementation Group.
  • Also for ALT, I’m managing the Open Course in Technology Enhanced Learning project (the website hasn’t been formally launched yet, so no link, but you can find it if you dig). This is also aimed at teachers in higher education, encouraging them to explore the ways they could use technology in their teaching. The course is a MOOC — Massive Open Online Course. The soul of MOOCs, whether saintly or demonic, is hotly contested at the moment, especially among learning technologists, so it’s an interesting time to be designing such a course. It’s due to run next year.

For all but one of these projects, I’ve been working with my regular collaborator Seb Schmoller. While I’ve been working on them — and I was also fortunate enough to be invited on two holidays this summer — my work on Agile Learning has moved on to the back burner. Most recently I got the Agile Learning wiki to the point where almost stands by itself as an introduction to the principles and practice. I also wrote a series of articles for New Media Knowledge — here’s the round-up that points to the three main articles. I expect to stay with the agile theme for as long as I continue to do anything that could pass as work, but for now the Agile Learning blog, twitter, Facebook and Google+ (!) are lying mostly fallow until the season changes.

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