December 14, 2012


The Open University announces the launch of Futurelearn, a consortium of UK universities that will offer free online courses from next year.

December 10, 2012

MOOC mania

Writing about web page

I'm signed up with a few MOOC's (Massive Open Online Courses). There's an interesting article on the guardian website about the reluctance of UK universities to engage with MOOC's. It seems that the primary concerns are to do with reputation, student support and (surprise, surprise) money. I've been playing around with Google AppEngine (which I got into when I was doing the udacity 'build a blog' course) and Google have now released course-builder, which allows you to develop an online course that can be hosted on their servers. You can build (and host) a course for free, so long as you stay within their quota limits, so I'm going to have a go. Not looking to create something that's affiliated with any institution, just trying out the tech and hopefully will learn something along the way...

November 29, 2012

The business of mobile

A colleague of mine forwarded an e-mail from a company offering to redesign his website to make it mobile friendly. He thought I had spoofed him because I am always going on about the fact that businesses think they have done their bit by just having a website, without really thinking about the devices people are using to access them. A classic example of this is a site that I saw advertised on the side of a car (in Lidl car park of all places). I put the address into my phone and nothing came up, turned out the site was Flash based so immediately unavailable to iphone/ipad users. I actually e-mailed them to point this out. A few weeks later a completely new site could be found at the same address, one optimised for mobile devices! I suggested to my web design students that they contact companies and offer to redesign their sites to make them mobile friendly (which is exactly what this company that contacted my colleague was offering) but there wasn't much enthusiasm for that idea, horse to water and all that...

November 12, 2012

NESTA Digital makers funding call

Writing about web page

NESTA, a UK charity, have put out a funding call for projects that engage young people in 'digital making' i.e. getting young people to not just consume digital technologies but to be actively involved in the creation of them.

I've been interested in this even before Gove started talking about the lack of coding skills amongst young people. I've always enjoyed programming and have tried a variety of languages over the years. I started with Pascal and Fortran and I am currently learning Objective C. I think programming is partly about being able to solve problems and asking lots of questions. More often that not I start with the 'idea' and then work out if it can be done with the particular programming language I'm using.

I'm teaching a module at the moment where students are using Actionscript to create an interactive application and, while they are finding it hard work, they are loving it! The approach I'm taking is to ask students what they'd like to do and then working with them to identify how to achieve it using code.

Over the last 18 months I've been working with a colleague at Newman University on a number of mobile/server based app development initiatives and this sounds like an ideal opportunity to use the knowledge gained (the funding is for prototypes, not concepts). Fingers crossed!

November 09, 2012

The journey starts here…

Bit of a corny title I know! I've spent the last few days working my way through the online tools and resources available at Warwick and linking them to my various (and for a long while rather dormant) social media pages. I now have my department profile page page up and linked to my Twitter and LinkedIn pages.

I'm always telling my students to develop their online profiles so might as well lead by example!

It's been a busy few weeks of teaching for me (I am a lecturer at Newman University College). My PhD reading has unfortunately taken a back seat but now that things have settled down I'm getting back to the journals!

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