From marble to MOOCs… snapshots from my path to Learning Technology

I’ve been continuing my project of uploading a LOT of images to Google Photos and some of these are scans or photos of drawings and artworks I made (Google isn’t great at recognising what the drawings depict but I am not entirely sure whether this is due to my inexpert drawing or insufficiently sophisticated algorithms). Before I started working in Learning Technology and before I did my PhD in Anthropology I trained and practiced as a sculptor – and drawing is a big part of making things. Learning how to draw and sketch shaped how I think and solve problems. Whether in Art or Anthropology or Learning Technology my professional practice has many threads that run through the last two decades. I’ve always been interested in time, change and how we as human beings shape the world around us.

There’s a slideshow of a selection of images in the archive of this blog.

Drawing my way through my #cmalt portfolio

IMG_1010Compiling my portfolio for submission for CMALT,  ALT’s peer-based accreditation scheme, has been a long term project. Originally I started in 2011, but I didn’t complete it. Now I am close to finishing and planning to submit my portfolio (finally). As part of the process, I have made drawings for each section of the portfolio, usually one per section. The first few drawings I made close to a year ago, but I am still adding new ones. Some are illustrations based on CMALT criteria or headings, others are from my work and blog posts. Most of the drawings start life with pen and paper, but many end up being re-drawn on the paper app on an iPad and later edited again with more apps to add text, adjust colours and so forth. This kind of professional development definitely doesn’t require you to get your colour pencils out and start drawing things, so why? Here are my thoughts:

IMG_1014First, drawing is something that’s been a key part of my practice, of the way I think, long before I started working in Learning Technology and I still find it an invaluable part of my work today. Whether it’s designing open badges or trying to figure out a complex network of use-cases, I often find drawing things down helps with problem solving and communication.

Second, drawings are a good way for me to express different parts of my vision, my personality. I like using them as part of my approach because they can be more eloquent than words and allow me to contribute something more. When I contributed #rhizo15 earlier this year, I found that drawings were a great tool for participating either together with text posts or as stand alone posts. There is something about using colour and images that really connects wit the way I think about things. In the case of my #cmalt portfolio, adding drawings helped to make it feel more like me, help me focus on what I wanted to communicate about my work.

FullSizeRenderFinally, and importantly in this context, drawing takes time and focus. For me it is an excellent way to reflect and reflecting on your practice is a key part of the #cmalt framework. I often started a section with a drawing and by the time it was finished, I would be ready to start writing, having laid out the ideas in my head. The reflection is probably the most rewarding part of the process for me.

It’s not really about the drawing in itself, more about the process as a way of giving myself time and space to really think about things, figure out how I feel about something and sometimes, it ends up surprising me with unexpected ideas. That’s the best part for me.

How do you learn #rhizo15?

This week I am not going to write much on community/conformity. Instead I’ve decided to read, comment and reflect on what is being contributed across the community – to help me think and draw about my own question for this week: ‘How do you learn #rhizo15?’ . image

#rhizo15 week 3: content and curiosity


This week’s prompt from Dave Cormier on the ‘Myth of content. Content is people’ and the conversation that I’ve been trying to follow #rhizo15 has got me thinking about who decides on content, what it is, how we package it, how it is delivered, consumed, shared… .

Day to day the aspects of ‘content’ I deal with most are how it is created, licensed, mapped against accreditation frameworks, quality assured and so forth. There are many different ways in which to define it, how it is delivered and funded, who creates it, who decides what is included or left out and also what purpose it serves, whose criteria it meets. This is a political, ideological and economic process before anyone gets to thinking about learning.

What I am particularly interested in is how content, however broadly defined, can develop curiosity. How what or how we learn and teach can result in questions and discovery. Not just for those who already know how to be curious, but for everyone. Instead of the ‘truth box’ that contains everything you need to know to pass the next exams or get through a day at work, I’d like a box full of curiosity (see drawing for the cereal version…).

Online, content that is open(ly licensed), content that you can find when you are looking for it, share, re-use and integrate into the story, into what you learn, makes being curious much more rewarding. That’s one reason why large scale efforts to organise information, to make it discoverable, are so powerful. From one learner on a single course the right question can zoom you out to think at the scale of the entire world. Being curious makes things more interesting, makes us ask more (questions) of content.