My last 10ish years on Twitter

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…

2011

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

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.

June 2012 has a tweet saying I have joined the LSG Ning (https://learningandskillsgroup.ning.com/) – to be honest that feels longer ago than 10 years ago!

2013

The first tweet of 2013 refers to information on Tin Can (which has arguably not really reached its potential although the resulting rise of LXPs will have led to adoption).

There are a few tweets for an event I also blogged about. Followed up by some similar tweets from that year’s learning tech show and BETT. These soon followed by a sad one about the death of Google Reader.

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.

2014

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:

2015

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.

2016

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).

2017

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.

Nice to see some tweets from an internal learning conference my team (at the time) helped organise and an external event where I presented on some of our work.

2018

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.

2019

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.

2020

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.

(Eye care) BenQ BL2780 monitor review/experience

Following on from my post about my eye problems, I have purchased a BenQ monitor – hoping their claims of eye care technology help me with working during my continued recovery.

This video was helpful in making the decision and goes into more detail than I will:

First impressions

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.

A familiar screen for Moodle admins, but in High Contrast Mode.

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.

Trying Notion (after MS Ignite October 2021)

The legless avatars of Mesh stole the social media buzz around Microsoft’s latest round of news (mostly coming out of Ignite). However, there was a LOT of changes to existing tools and non-Mesh stuff.

Windows Weekly, as always, has done a good job of pulling things together from different press releases, blog posts, presentations, etc. Some thoughts…

Loop

One thing discussed on Windows Weekly was Loop, a new tool which the WW hosts compared to Notion. Elsewhere it has been compared to Google Wave and other tools (see the comments on this article for how this tool seems to cut across existing tools).

Well I hadn’t used Notion before so I thought I would give it a try (they have 200k followers on Twitter so I am clearly late to the party).

Notion

Free for individual use (and free trials for team use) you can access Notion here.

50+ tutorials are on the Notion YouTube channel for getting startedl.

I would say that the, individual use, Notion is really a kind of personal Wiki but with various templates and other functionality to plug in. In this regard it is likely great for small teams (or even individual freelancers) to track their work. Indeed they have a page on the website regarding Wiki use. That said I have been burned with using Wiki and other tools (inc. Google Wave) in the past that have closed and needed me to transfer content elsewhere so I would understand why people would prefer to do similar activities via MS Teams (perhaps using OneNote over the limited Teams wiki).

An email from Notion suggested “Notion can feel overwhelming at first” – and I think that is a fair acknowledgment from them.

Should learning pros shift from sector specific tools? #3 : “creator” all-in-one platforms (over an LMS)

A bit of background on the learning side

This bit is an attempt to think where we (i.e. the learning industry/industries) currently are with ‘platforms’…

Learning management systems (LMSs), love them or hate them, remain the core component of many learning environments – be that workplace learning and development (L&D) or in education (where virtual learning environment, or VLE, may be the preferred term dependent on geography). Many LMS/VLE are built, at least initially, from the point that a common product, a ‘course’, is at their heart.

Even the rise of the Learning Experience Platform (LxP/LXP) has not shifted the need, for many, of an LMS. Indeed the lines that separate an LMS and an LXP are blurred at best – “there is no hard and fast distinction“. Continuing use cases for an LMS include that they often remain the single source of truth for compliance records, the ‘one stop shop’ for organisational learning opportunities, a walled garden for education and much more. Whilst LMS/LXP/VLEs come in many shapes and sizes they have, in many ways, replaced or reinforced the ‘learning by location’ model – i.e. you used to learn in a classroom now you learn in/via this technology or simply register for in-person events via it.

Coaching, mentoring and other less formal and location defined learning experiences are supported to differing degrees by the wide range of LMS/VLE/LXP that are out there in the market. The learning sector in the last c.20 years has arguably fluctuated somewhat in how much an LMS should be an ‘all-in-one’ tool with, at times, it being simply a launch pad for SCORM and other content whilst at other times there has been a push for talent management, discussion, social learning, knowledge management and much more (that have separate specialist tools/markets) to be included in core LMS functionality. Today we tend to see platforms that may not offer all this functionality but will integrate with other tools, for example via integrations, APIs, etc. These integrations often developed via acquisitions by the tech vendors themselves.

Creator platforms

So on to the point of this blog – some reflection on another market segment I am new to, having only just realised in the last couple of weeks that such things exist.

Previously I presumed most people monetize their ‘creator’ work through the relevant platform (YouTube, a photo site, WordPress or whatever) in combination with services such as Patreon. However, there appears to be another model that has developed via ‘creator platforms’.

Podia is one of the tools that clearly see themselves in this space. They split their own functionality “sell your work” and “market your work” functionality, interesting the sell aspects include online courses, webinars and other functionality that will be familiar to many learning pros. The below video is seemingly a pretty honest self-assessment on their part, comparing themselves to another major player in this space (do let me know if there are other tools worth looking at):

So is Podia an option for learning pros?

As is often the case, it really depends on what you already have and use. However, if you were looking to break from, say, a Moodle with sales plugins, with separate CRM, video hosting, etc to move into a (potentially) simpler all-in-one solution this seems like a realistic option.

Your online course, your way.

Choose from a variety of online courses that fit your business and customers’ needs; we support every file type, host all of the content, and never place limits on how much content you can upload and sell to your students.

https://www.podia.com/features/sell-online-courses

Is Podia really a learning platform?

In many ways Podia is quite a traditional solution for learning pros in that a “course” remains a unit of transaction, i.e. you buy access to a course. The platform lets you sell these via one of a number of temporal-based formats such as standalone, timed release, cohort based, etc.

In terms of content you are effectively talking about adding links to content and uploading media. This is clearly not SCORM focused like a traditional LMS but is no different to how many LMS are used, for example the traditional complaint that university online learning platforms are used as “file stores”. That said, Podia as a file store approach is quite appealing considering there are “zero limits on content…as much as you want to as many people as you can.” Many of us will have horror stories about eLearning systems falling over in the past when used at scale so Podia seems to have a lot of potential here.

There are other functionality options beyond static content, including borrowing from the traditional approaches of the learning space:

Ensure your course students are truly understanding your material with a multiple-choice quiz at the end of your lessons.

https://www.podia.com/features/sell-online-courses

Obviously a MCQ is far from ensuring ‘true understanding’ but I guess it at least separates a tool like Podia from something like, say, WordPress for hosting your content (yes, I know there are lots of WordPress plugins!).

Beyond the content and MCQs the more interesting element may well be that more social learning is possible via community elements and webinar integration. It is perhaps worth noting here though that Podia’s “all-in-one” would still need to connect external accounts for the webinar functionality itself:

Podia integrates with both YouTube Live (all plans) and Zoom (Shaker/Earthquaker) to let you offer webinars to your audience.

https://www.podia.com/features/sell-webinars

Conclusions

Overall, these platforms seem to offer another option for those who work in learning. By creating a ‘community’ around our work there is a different model here than the traditional LMS – be it if these were used internally to an org or for the sales-based models they are clearly intended. One market that clearly could look in this direction would be Membership based organisations who effectively have existing communities and are, in some ways, the traditional “creator” organisations due to their model of sharing useful resources, links, courses, encouraging knowledge sharing, etc for bodies interested in a topic. If the costs are worthwhile for such an organisation will clearly depend on the alternatives and existing IT setup, resources, platforms in use, etc.

Should learning pros shift from sector specific tools? #2 : Weet for video based communication

That I have not been to any conferences or other in-person events for at least a couple of years might be why I seem to be stumbling across a few new tools of late. In the last couple of weeks this has included Weet.

Are you already using Weet for learning related projects? If so, let me know.

Weet offers browser based video recording with very easy webcam over screen share functionality. Obviously similar functionality exists in Teams, Zoom and elsewhere – indeed one of my few paid for apps is Screencastify which has some similar functionality. Where Weet is powerful is that the webcam video can make use of their virtual backgrounds (ala Teams and Zoom) within the browser based recording.

Weet themselves do a good job here for explaining its benefits for learning so education/learning is clearly a market they are aiming for. Therefore, they are targeting market share from some of the more sector specific tools such as Camtasia.

The Teams integration (I haven’t tried this) offers an easy way to communicate, share video, etc without having to do the slightly counter-intuitive Teams approach of having single person “meetings” to record video messages.

A very nice feature of Weet is that even on the free plan you can download your recordings. Therefore, if you have concerns over their hosting (which can be a private or public link) you can download and host/share on/via your own systems. The free plan caps you at a 8 minute video which, in all honesty, is probably as long as most videos should be anyway.

Obviously lots of use cases as part of async communication – in education video based feedback would be an obvious example.

Here’s a quick video I did for my LinkedIn profile.

More generally, are we seeing a move back towards browser based tools? It feels a little like this to me, with less emphasis on Apps, or maybe I am just imagining that?