My name is Ian Gardner and I am interested in various topics that can be seen as related to learning, technology and information.
To see what I am reading elsewhere, follow me on The Old Reader (I.gardner.gb) and/or Twitter (@iangardnergb).
After a long time I was back facilitating “in the classroom” at a conference/event this month.
I have to say it was disorientating but enjoyable. A couple of observations to capture for now:
Face-to-face training events are never just about the designed training. The social interactions, networking, side conversations, etc. can be very valuable.
Virtual has a lot of benefits, not least the equalising effects.
On point 1 – is there any other profession/industry which sells itself as one thing only for value to be gained from another? The nearest equivalent I can think of is going to a football match – the social elements (walking with friends/family, pub, etc) often outweigh the enjoyment of the game. Is it time that we are honest about what value “training” events really bring?
On point 2 – Meeting people face-to-face I found myself making many more “first impression” judgments, even having to check myself from doing so in my head. I also met a lot people only previously met on Zoom and it has to be said a physical meeting creates, for me at least, at lot more realisation/judgment of diversity issues from height to weight, sex, disability, fashion sense, etc etc etc that are not (as much of) an issue online for me.
Twitter’s current problems have made me think again about how I have used the site over the years. Therefore, I decided to have a look at all my tweets…or at least what I can see via the UI.
Expectations: I have been very stop-start on Twitter and would expect, before looking at the historic tweets, for this to be obvious. The more active times will include event tweeting which I have tried at times – having appreciated the tweets of others in creating useful back channels around conferences and the like.
Via the main UI, the scroll of past tweets, seems to cap at around 10 years…
Some general sharing on professional topics – including libraries, teacher training and online learning. Particular focus on my LMS of the time (Blackboard) and the Higher Ed market in general.
2012 started with my attendance of the Blackboard User Group conference in Durham (that I attended a number of times back then) and was followed with a clear attempt to be sharing interesting news. I was not adding a lot of my own thoughts to posts, more just picking out tweets of particular interest.
The rest of the year is a mix of learning tech news, as well as some excitement from me on the potential of Open Badges. Some companies mentioned, such as Grovo, having gone on to be bought by other players. There are also an annoying amount of broken links to sites like Chief Learning Officer that don’t really have an excuse for breaking archive links.
A July 2013 tweet advertising that I had used the LPI Capability Map must have been when that went live? I also tweeted to comment on when I setup a FutureLearn account.
Late in the year a couple of tweets from a Learning Pool Live event still hit home – one suggesting we might have to be more honest about the type of staff we have (hostages, disconnected, mercenaries, apostles +the fence sitters) and another talking about Andrew Jacobs work with L&D at Lambeth council moved away from courses (apart from for health and safety).
2013 ends with me saying I was considering leaving Yahoo Mail. Somewhat amazingly I am still actively using it.
In hindsight the news I was sharing is interesting to look back on in this format but as an archive would I ever really use it? I guess there has been the odd time when I have tried to remember something and then remembered I tweeted it.
More BETT thoughts as well as general workplace learning and technology interest. That includes a few tweets about MOOCs and market plays, most of which have not probably been worth the investment for players involved!
Useful picking up of a few old sources I have forgotten about. As well as a welcome reminder of this from ON24:
Begins with some learning tech show tweets but also an interesting one where I wonder what the penetrating of name recognition would be for “webinar”, guess that has changed in the last seven years!
I retweeted one tweet about the 2015 election and I have used Twitter a lot in more recent times to lurk in the political space to try and comprehend Brexit, Trump, Johnson, Truss and other political topics. There is also the first sign of some football related tweeting, another topic/community where Twitter has brought me value.
Overall, a huge amount of dead links – even on big stories like Adobe launching an LMS.
A work focus, with a greater interest in apprenticeships shown in some tweets on that topic. Meanwhile Office 365, Zoom and other current tools all start to appear more obviously.
Overall 2016 is not a hugely engaged year for me (likely a reflection that I was busy enjoying a new job).
More on apprenticeships and learning technology.
AI in learning gets a mention (I think for the first time).
March 2017 is noteworthy for me saying I had just used Microsoft Teams for the first time (and it must have been pretty quick that I adopted it for my team). Microsoft Stream launch gets a mention later in the year.
Also a tweet for an event I went to at the Design Museum – slightly surprised there are not more of these types of post but probably due to me tending to keep my Twitter mostly work related.
BETT makes an appearance again (I really should have invested in phones with better cameras for pics) as well as some sector (health) specific stuff for the time.
Again, mostly events (I did quite a good job at tweeting from UNLEASH18) and the like with the 2012/13-style news sharing mostly having dried up.
The earlier interest in Open Badges had led to some work where I was presenting on a webinar about my use before some tweets on me moving on from that role.
Later in the year some general workplace performance stuff and a little on apprentices.
I also tried to make LandDoh “a thing” to have some fun with the world of learning. Needless to say that has not really happened.
Quite a general mix of tweets on things of interest from football, learning theory, social stuff and more. Not quite as random as it might look at first glance as some related to the work I was supporting at the time.
The bit that might be important for the future are some recommendations for podcasts, covering Project Cortex and what the future of a Microsoft-powered learning ecosystem might look like.
The November 2019 election event of the UK Conservative party rebranding itself on Twitter as “factcheckuk” is a low point even within the terrible environment of much social media.
Still not sure how it isn’t 2020 today but it would seem that year mostly saw me use Twitter for the “normal” mix of learning tech, some podcast/webinar comments and some waffle. A reasonable amount amongst it all on remote work related productivity topics given the year. Of the pandemic related stuff a tweet on the 1957 flu was one of the more interesting things.
However, a mention for this retweet which remains the most standout amazing thing I have probably seen on Twitter:
2021 & 2022
Alas I did tweet on January 6th 2021 whilst in shock at the events in America.
Elsewhere tweets directly related to my employer here, including about our use of Helpscout. Otherwise digital skills, digital workplaces, etc. I also got into perhaps my nearest thing to a Twitter argument in disagreeing with DTWillingham on the limits of games for learning.
A crossover moment for me this week between one of my favourite leisure time podcasts (Quickly Kevin – a 90s football podcast) and work related topics.
The issue here, specifically, is (Sir) Alex Ferguson’s management style.
On Quickly Kevin, Lee Sharpe (one of Ferguson’s players in the ’90s) recounts how Ferguson has blanked him at events since Sharpe called Sir Alex a “bully” in his book/biography. This immediately rang some alarm bells for me given Ferguson is often put on a pedestal within the (admittedly bizarre at times) business press and leadership education industries. For example:
The reality is that leadership/management preference is highly culturally and down to personal preference. Ferguson, Brian Clough (a personal hero of mine) and other greats of sports coaching would no doubt be seen as bullies today – not to mention the various cases of subterfuge over the years in cycling, athletics, gymnastics, etc. Indeed Clough, even at his near peak, was criticised for his treatment of Justin Fashanu.
I am currently watching the US version of the Office (very late to the party, I know). As silly as it is, Michael’s attempts at humour and “fun” in the office are very indicative of the problems of culture given that we are all different and will want different things. This is ultimately why we often have a dichotomy in workplaces between dull/quiet experiences where we revert to the mean of neutrality to avoid conflict over noise, “fun”, etc. and the opposite where teams are hired based on existing relationship, personality, etc. and thus we have “bro” cultures in tech and other uniform team building approaches that actively avoid diversity (even if the people hiring do not realise it). In the later the manager is likely to be empowered to act as they wish. In the former there may be perceptions of bullying as people are beaten down to the norm.
As we are all different we then need to be actively careful in picking our own heroes – personally I mute anyone on LinkedIn who shares positive posts related to Richard Branson. For me he is an example of many of the things wrong in the world (not least double standards over the environment). Let us be careful with our heroes and listen to dissenting voices. Personally I would rather celebrate those we have worked with who have had a positive influence on us than celebrating such big names.
Personally I’ve quite liked resilience as a way to describe capacity to deal with the prospect of change and other knockbacks, essentially how “bouncebackable” someone is. However, more recently it has felt like resilience has been increasingly used as a criticism and, to me, tied in with a general approach to blaming workers (at least in the US and UK). See also the similar L&D focus on creativity and the criticisms, even made at the generational level, of a lack of entrepreneurialism. My feelings here have in part been triggered by Liz Truss claiming Brits need to work harder as well as criticisms of workers for “quiet quitting” (QQ). On QQ I agree with a lot of this article, it is both nothing new and also a sign of poor management IMO.
A recent Reasons to be Cheerful pod included a section from Bruce Daisley, who questioned our shared understanding of resilience. This was a little lost at the end of a pod nominally about education given Daisley did not stick to the school focus. Indeed they challenged the usual approach to resilience and instead argued that workplace resilience should not be seen as an individual competence. They, correctly in my opinion, argued that a lack of resilience has been used as a way to criticise individuals. I much prefer his suggestion that resilience comes from a shared capacity and it was interesting to hear Nigel Paine (over on the Learning Hack) similarly arguing for less focus on individual competencies and more focus on team/organisational levels. It didn’t initially click when listening to the Bruce Daisley pod appearance that he is behind one of my other subscriptions “Eat Sleep Work Repeat“.
Resilience is often closely discussed, or used interchangeably, with “positive mindset”. In this regard I often still struggle with the concept of encouraging people to be positive. However, as often mentioned on here, I do remain a fan of the Path of Possibility. That model being part of Strengthscope’s logic and, whilst I remain slightly sceptical on their view on resilience (not least due to the focus on the individual), I do like the concept that strengths (particularly at the team level) are a way to make more resilient organisations.
Overall, resilience is likely to stick around as one of those areas where HR/L&D develop it as topic which will land better with some audiences than others. Indeed there will no doubt be ongoing debate, off-the-shelf learning, etc related to this. I suspect it will be one of these rather evidence-lacking areas that are used to get people to reflect rather than having a noticeable impact on performance. However, as part of a wider set of development including encouraging people to focus on what energises them at work it will likely remain part of our shared terminology and that is not necessarily a bad thing.
This video was helpful in making the decision and goes into more detail than I will:
A nice unpacking experience, I still love the new PC/tech smell – it sends me straight back to c.1996 and unboxing my first PC. However, once setup first impressions were not great. I had to deactivate the monitor’s automatic brightness adjustment and manually turn the brightness to the lowest setting. Unfortunately this still felt too bright in non dark mode apps for me. Therefore, it’s clear the eye care is for “normal” users. Not people with my kind of problem.
High Contrast Mode
Therefore, I have started using the “high contrast” mode in Windows to try and deal with the brightness. This is the mode that blows up some text, turns things to white/yellow/cyan on black and is probably something of a mystery to most Windows users. Indeed I have seen it for years without ever trying it (beyond a few experiments). Of course there are many accessibility features out there, both in Windows and in additional apps and plugins. Back when I worked in HE I was quite on top of accessibility issues and I will admit my knowledge in this area has dropped over time, whilst I still test my eLearning in a few ways actually now relying on some of these experiences is tricky. If the eye problems continue I will have to try some other accessibility features. In the meantime I have installed “Read Aloud” for reading web pages for the first time since I worked in HE.
Back to the monitor
This is more a personal situation/experience post than what you would get in a typical review but I wanted to put it out there in case others with eye problems are looking for how such a monitor might help. I am presuming the no flicker tech is definitely helping, my work laptop’s flicker was very noticeable when the brightness was turned down. Otherwise the BenQ monitor quality is good and the speakers are decent (certainly better than those built into my 2 laptops).
As in the above video, the monitor is clearly for coders and others who are trying to avoid eye problems from lots of screen time. The issue for what is best for people already with medical eye problems, like me, seems to be outstanding. Do get in touch if you know of better solutions.