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Showing posts from September, 2012

You know when you have been ...

A little while ago, I shared a couple of interesting stories regarding some of my students. There are more to come, one story at a time. Amongst my many years of teaching, I have encountered many amusing colleagues, the sort who you cannot resist 'setting up' as they so often walk around with both feet place firmly in their oral cavity.

Going way back I was given a mentor on my first day of teaching, the notion is quite laudable, have an experienced lecturer guide the newbie in the ways of the organisation. After about two months, I had 'sacked' them from their role, quickly recognising who in the team actually knew what they were talking about and had more about them than this numpty.

Over the following two/three years, they did not improve, fortunately they were on the whole easy to manage (for this please read ignore) and they were on their way. Maybe with a little subconscious encouragement from me ...

For contractual historical reasons, they were on a different c…

Simulated prejudice ...

Interesting conversation today, hearing good news about the slow (but steady) progress of a project they are working on.

As is per the norm of our fortnightly chat, we wandered quickly into the realms of simulation. This time discussing some agreed personal perceptions of prejudice.

Acceptance of an experience gained by simulation raises many interesting cultural questions, we could build a magnificent artefact, more complex than any 'real' teaching environment could offer. Yet, cultural dismissal of anyone having learnt via this medium raises interesting questions.

In many 'practice based' domains, you are your skills, a chef is really not much use unless they have made the mistakes in the kitchen. You cannot simulate this, not yet, not likely and in reality there is little inclination to even bother.

For a complex network environment, if you are able to overcome the cost and infrastructure security issues. Then it is very reasonable to have an array of networking ki…

Cunning bar steward ...

At the moment, I have as yet not come to any fully formed opinion about the state of changes to secondary education in England, and the impact that this will have on our upcoming generations.
Some parts of the notion I agree with, but the approach to the problem, fills me with considerable reservations. From a tactical perspective, you can see that Gove and his cronies are not daft, timing is everything and politically this has been the result of considerable planning.
I sincerely doubt that they are fools; I suggest they have been aiming for the Ebacc for some considerable time. Once they removed the attraction of the vocational alternative, downgrading it in league table terms, adding rigor (in their political terms, not mine). Then the way was clear for any changes to the GCSE, having nothing available for schools to jump to if they felt a little emotional.
Over the last ten years, too many schools did use vocational qualifications to bolster their league table position, diminishing …

Damaging words ...

Speaking to a compatriot from another university, I heard dismal words today about the shenanigans of a national 'apprenticeship' provider within the IT sector. After completing a six month stint as an 'apprentice' (which is a joke in itself). The poor souls caught up in this scheme are being told that their vocational qualification meets the requirements for degree entry.

It would be ok, if they were having a proper apprenticeship (with an employer for 12 to 18 months at least) and using a recognized technical certificate. But from what I understand, the qualification they are using may be at Level 3, but lacks the necessary UCAS points.

Now some reading this would think "well did't the apprentice know this", this you would think is the case. Instead, with this collection of souls who all came to the university at different times during clearing shared the same story.

The chief executive told me during a presentation that my qualification would get me i…

Master Chef Cliche Generator ...

For someone who has the occasional creative moment in the kitchen and quite an open minded foodie, it may surprise you to discover that I seldom watch 'chef' programmes.

Some are good, some I learn from, some are more entertainment than education, but some annoy me.

One that definitely annoys is the current incarnation of MasterChef, it's car crash tv that meets a fly on the wall cliche generator.

I do appreciate the challenge and talent of some of the competitors, but come on, can we avoid the formalistic approach to presentation. I now hate the word passionate with a passion (irony intended), I enjoy putting on a good meal, but I tend to be more passionate about other things (grown ups will understand).

Can the presenters avoid using a rostrum of phrases; say something different or even be um 'interesting' and show us some of their experience when judging the competitors.

We don't actually see how any of the dishes are created, instead seeing the idea, the e…

Framework fantasies ...

Every time I hear words like framework or mapping, I am sure that a kitten somewhere endures a horrible demise. In a world desperate for many things, on the list of the last thing we ever need is another framework or the opportunity to map framework X to framework Y.

But we must do this, mustn't we?

After all, how could an industry cope if there is not the right framework, how could students stand it if their studies are mapped inappropriately.

Yet, somehow, by some miracle it happens, employees get employed and companies progress. Whilst there are always challenges, they seem to 'cope'. Without a friggin framework or mapped process in sight.

But education, now we must map every effing framework to death, if it isn't mapped, then the world falls out of our ears.

Why is this, do we like making work for ourselves, is there some inherent insecurity within the education profession. Like a medical support, we must live for each framework, let it constrain what we do then t…

Pseudo Net

Having a pseudo (as in false) network to develop learning on may have interesting connotations for learning in my field.

I have explored this idea in different forms a few times yet still wonder about the engagement gained by a student in such an experience.

In constructivist terms my thoughts continually visit the zone of proximal development and think about how this may exist in a distributed environment.

Easter Eggs ...

One little pleasure when writing is the opportunity to hide little 'Easter Eggs' in your work. The sort that will miss the eagle eye of editors. Some, you know they know, but know that they don't particularly care.

Getting the children in is not particularly difficult, the most recent book has a picture of both children in a web conference.

In other books is interesting programming code, sci-fi characters and unusual information contained within text fields of screen grabs.

Take a peek, do search, some are more banal than others but with an estimated 1/2 Million words in print over thirteen texts since 2003, it does make life occasionally more interesting.




Wild Thing ... you make my heart sing ...

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If you are a foodie, or at least think you are a foodie. If you are sociable, or at least can act like you are. The supper club could be the thing for you. Last night, based on the recommendation of a fellow blogger. We took the plunge and attended the Wild Thing Supper Club in Milton Keynes.






What fun.

At three levels this is a great experience which I must highly commend.
First the food, wow, hmmmm, yum, excellent, tasty, divine and all the metaphors you can summon. For this experience, Ray is an excellent creative cook/chef and his family fantastic hosts. The menu can be found here it speaks for itself. So much, that we would seriously consider returning.

Second, the company, imagine the entertainment of going and meeting people. A scary prospect we relish, around the table we were a party of eight souls. Different backgrounds, but all very interested  in food, yet all having experiences and ideas of what we enjoy. You want to meet different people and eat out, you will not find any…

Discrimination ...

Listening to a radio comedy show at the moment, discussing the current cases of religious discrimination taking place in the European courts.

Being an experienced cynic and most likely having a very liberal view of faith. Some of the issues at hand tend to be subjects that present me with personal concern.

Wearing a cross, fish or any emblem is a personal choice, but in making these choices you also make a declaration. As a football supporter takes a risk wearing their team colours on opposition turf, is this not the same of anyone of any faith.

If you want to make your declaration, you are making this in front of those for as well as against.

So, when you are challenged, when there is opposition, should you be surprised?

You may think that in this country, we are free to be 'Christian', but we seem to forget that we have also fought for the freedoms of others to be free to be 'not Christian'. We want these liberties, but suddenly become very emotional when others exp…

When we rid ourselves of the television ...

It must have been at least four years now since we have rid ourselves of the idiot lantern in the corner of the room. Partly as we had one of those 28" Cathode Ray Tube monoliths. Mainly as we were fed up of the intrusion and mainly the inane television broadcast into our lives.

Already enjoying preferential bandwidth with our service provider, we upgraded our package and found that by having the television package (which we didn't want), we could save money on having the even higher speed connection.

So, being in a family where everyone already had their own computer/laptop, the loss of the box was no great tragedy.

Suddenly our television watching patterns changed, with iPlayer and emergent web streaming, we found that ...
We watched lessWe only watched what we want to watch, not the other rubbish that was just 'on'Everyone watched what they wanted, We still had communal timeBut with two teens, everyone had personal time Sometimes, we would still put a DVD on, one l…

Bye Bye "Billy Bull" ...

Some in this world are blessed with an over abundance of bullshit, when it came to a higher deity handing out the talents. Now, those who know me know that I can present a good yarn when the mood comes upon me and to be entirely impartial, I do admire a well crafted bit of the old "Bull" when presented by an experienced artisan.

On hearing of the exit of one protagonist; my mind reeled back to a meeting some three years ago in my office. At that time a colleague and I were to meet for the first time a new sector expert, appointed to help raise the industrial profile of some programmes within the university.

Open minded and willing, it was relayed to us pre-meeting that they claimed to be able to solve our 'deficit' of vendor accredited associated lecturers. Unlike many disciplines, to deliver on one particular vendor based programme, it was an unavoidable requirement that anyone we expose to our students must have passed some teaching and certification goals set by …

Broadcast thyself ...

How did we cope in times when we were unable to broadcast ourselves and share nothing of our exploits, true, hyped or fallacious.

What did we do before email was easily accessible, how did we cope, unable to create a web page. Who considered blogging as a word ten years ago? Whilst chat, BBS and news-groups were all out there and were presentable resources before social media, who could have imagined the amount of interactive noise we could all create via Facebook.

Some now seek career paths as social media experts, but, will they go the same way as the milkman or soon to be defunct paper boy.

Using social media to broadcast this thought, there was a time where nobody shared and actually nobody really cared. Yet I have a following via twitter a community via facebook and others who view my blog alone. Suddenly a thought that could have been left 'wondering' has airplay and an audience to reach.

Broadcast thyself and be seen by all.

Go brave young soul ...

Made a cup of tea for the twenty year old this morning. He is off to work, for second day of 'proper job' in the career that he has chosen. Not that he has not had a proper job before, in the mind of youngster, his apprenticeship was different.

It was great to hear him buzz about the previous day and share his experiences.

Seeing so many apprentices being taken for a ride, having a half-arsed experience by employers who don't understand how to mentor/train young adults. Seeing the results of the nurture that has been invested in our son and how he has thrived over the last year is now a sight to behold.

It has not been without challenges, there have been times when offspring has stuck through many successive bad days. But what would he have been if was not for this experience as well.

Yet when I see many 'training providers' offer what I can only describe as boot camp apprenticeships in my sector. Offering little professional experience, getting the hapless young…

September ...

The silence of the coming September will soon be upon me, the last experienced being 2007. In the hurly-burly of post-compulsory education, September is a month of anxiety the month that makes or breaks plans. The time when you have too many or too few students, or as is often the case more distributed in places you didn't expect, creating a timetabling mare for those managing the education.

As my current world is slowly changing and adapting to the norms of a typical academic year. The culture will take some considerable time to catch up and slowly emulate some of the experiences of the face to face world of education.

But, there is time to adapt and none of the hiatus during the next four weeks as life goes on hold and every bottom is compared to the number of seats in preceding years.


Bunking off of work for a wedding ...

Working in education over the years has had many benefits, but one that has stuck with me was the way one had to 'sneak off' to a friends wedding.

At the time, the presiding principal was of the 'ego'+'megalomaniac' persuasion; the year start events were a time to rally the troops and survey the empire. Which was at the time in a period of growth and success everywhere within the college.

Some personal friends, as is their want, decided to have their wedding on the 1st of September, all schools were still off, it was a sensible day, church available, all easy.

Except for me, to get a day off on the first day back for the imperialist further education college, now that was a challenge.

Chatting it over with my boss at the time (who like me, no longer works for the college in question). Getting the day off was not going to happen, it would equate to 'handing in of my notice', instead we had to go for the tactical sickie.

It could not be one day, it could…