Am I Willy Wonka?

#outstandingMOOC, CPD, MOOC

Yep you read that right, so let’s keep this brief.

I’m currently participating in several MOOCs, one of which is “How to Create an Outstanding MOOC” hosted by HT2. We are currently on Week 2 of a five-week programme which includes the opportunity to design and develop one’s very own MOOC using the Curatr platform. (Still time to come and join us)

As found with some MOOCs, the experience has moved into different spaces.  Last night, the conversation was hosted on Google Hangouts by MOOC ‘wranglers’ Craig Taylor, Martin Couzins and Sam Burrough. I like to call them ‘el tridente’.

Before I go any further, I have a confession to make.

I’ve only used Hangouts a coupe of times before, and despite its technical hiccups, I think it’s a great way to connect.  I should use it more often when the opportunity arises.

But here’s my second confession. It makes me feel exposed.

Blogging and tweeting are safe.  I can air my thoughts without fear.  You, the consumer, make your choice.  But there’s something NOW about Hangouts.  Stupid thing to say I know, but there’s no real ‘Save/Edit Draft’.  Does Hangout scare you? Sure does for me, but life is not always about A>B>Live.

Anyway, Willy Wonka.

I’m sure you are all familiar with the man, the story.  Here’s a quick recap based on the musical.

  1. Wonka seeks heir to run his chocolate empire
  2. Launches and broadcasts competition
  3. Engages audience
  4. Finds winners
  5. Does the tour thing
  6. Charlie and Wonka win.  Smash through glass roof!

Wonka is a mishmash-diddlyumptious.

He’s a Brand and Community Manager.  He’s a spokesperson, a relationship builder.  He lets the winners explore, meet others unlike themselves, make sense of it all….make mistakes.  Without giving too much away, the Curatr MOOC talks about pointing the way, about flexibility, about ‘swinging’ and ‘dragging’ people.  That got your attention didn’t it.

For me and my early steps into this field, designing and delivering a MOOC feels like being Wonka.  And so I return to the MOOC…..

As the crazy man said: “The suspense is terrible…I hope it’ll last.”



#peerwatch, CPD, Learning

Last week on #LDInsight Tweetchat(Fridays, 8am BST), the following question was posed.

Who could we be talking to that we aren’t at present?

Here was my response.

LDINSIGHT response

Now perhaps Peer Observation was probably not the right terminology, but my comment did resonate with some people, including respected colleagues Michelle Parry-Slater (@MiPS1608) and Jo Stephenson (@Jostepho).

Within my most recent organisation, my experiences of observation were either provoked by an HR process (e.g. appraisal/performance management), change (e.g. imminent restructures), or a combination of both.  It strikes me now that we just sat and waited for these triggers.  We weren’t agile, we weren’t really benchmarking ourselves sufficiently and possibly against the wrong things.  Frankly, I feel we got a little lazy.

Your practice (and perhaps definition) of observation might well be different within your workplace.  In this social age, we actively ‘observe’ our external peers through conferences, blogs, Meetups, Tweetups etc, but are we missing out on some useful CPD by partnering with an organisation and periodically observing each other’s day-to-day environment and practices?

Yep, the idea of external observation scares the heck out of me too, and I know it’s not easy, but how much value would both parties gain from spending time (and little budget) with each other, especially if your industries and/or sectors are at polar opposites?

So anyway, I’ve decided to put this to the test.

I plan to approach some individuals and organisations over the next few weeks…. speak to other LnDers, Developers, Architects, Marketeers, Product Managers.  I have no idea what to expect (neither do they), but I’m confident it will be time and (little) money well spent.

Finally, in the spirit of recent hybrid hashtagging trends, I will today launch this campaign (of one) under the HT of #PeerWatch.

Would love you to join me on this.

From The Roof Up

I recently caught up with my mate John, an incredibly skilled and well-respected civil/structural engineer. Now in his sixties, John has worked all over the world building big factories for big clients.

John is old school. I say this because he’s not over-reliant on technology when it comes to creating and analysing structures. Don’t be worried by this…before I bought my current home, John spotted a defect on my conservatory that no other surveyor did. He saved me a few quid in the process.

John has just returned from a two-year gig in India. Now, when most of your friends come back from a lengthy outing abroad, you expect lots of media and tales. John is no exception, but when he came round, opened his laptop and launched PowerPoint, I knew this was going to be front row with popcorn. What John presented was a wonderful and illustrative narrative that was as absorbing as the biscuits we were dunking in our teas. John speaks with great technicality, and even though I can’t keep up with him, I love it.

Passion. Pride.

Anyway, slide 263 showed the early stages of one of his building creations, a roof at ground level against a backdrop of steel columns. “Trusstastic!” you scream. However, what is interesting is that his team are also chucking in the pipework, ducts, cabling etc at ground level before lifting onto the steel supports.

Roof. Done.

What this now does is provide protection, a shelter that allows you to repeat the process with subsequent floors. Each floor then becomes a shelter in itself allowing work to continue below, but it also serves as a support in allowing work to continue above.
There’s something Kanban about this approach. I don’t know what makes me say that, but it’s just…different.

Funny that we talk about agility, collaboration, bottom up, top down, scaffolding (yep you saw that coming), but are we still operating within old and tired techniques in LnD? A roof is there to protect, to frame and support.  It has as much importance, if not more, as your foundations. You can still function with a shelter over your head.

Is it time for you to build again, from the roof up?

A-Road, not a crossroads


After 25 years, I’ve reached a very significant point in my professional life.

When I started as a Support Solutions Consultant (yep, even in the 80s we talked like that), I would not have envisaged my job path as a programmer, ELT, the bits in-between, and finally into learning.

Learning is my career. It’s what I’m about.

But more importantly, I’ve realised that the common thread throughout my professional (and personal) life is to make a difference and to enable, whether that’s directly or indirectly.  It has always felt good.

I have a wonderful opportunity to step away from the corporate world for a little bit – away from the politics and monthly password renewal. I’m going to take the opportunity whilst I can. I don’t have much money, but I have two pension plans. One is currently six years old, the other is three (just kidding Social Services).

It’s a huge risk, but one I will look back on proudly for attempting.

And where will this temporary road of peace and tranquility lead to? Right now I’m not 110% sure, but I have a solid timetable of activities for the next three months. You’ll see me down B&Q alot.

To those of you who remain within Corporate World, I wish you continued success in your career.

It is your career, right?

Let’s keep in touch x



As with many skills we learn throughout our lives, there is a starting point.

For drummmers, many would argue that you need to learn the basics – holding sticks, correct posture, learning rudiments.


Rudiments exist for a number of reasons, but fundamentally, they are viewed by some as the bedrock in the same way that scales are important to the piano.  You can find out more here.

Now, when I began learning drums back in 1843, I didn’t learn rudiments.  I was self-taught and learned through listening to and observing ‘Top of the Pops’ and Animal.

Then came the drum teacher.

He didn’t teach me rudiments either.  Well, kinda not.  What I learned were drum set patterns, the ‘boom-tish boom-boom-tish’ years.  That got me through and I went from there – practising, auditions, rehearsals, stagefright.

I’ve slowly returned to the gig scene after a significant absence and alot has changed.  And why wouldn’t it.  Pubs and clubs are paying less.  Most cover bands have ‘Get Lucky’ in their setlist (it’s the new Must[h]ang Sally), and amateur drummers have also become insanely technical and creative.

By technical I mean two things:

  1. The emergence of the hybrid setup (acoustic and electronic kits)
  2. The polyrhythmic application and mashup of beats and rudiments.

These changes have really made me re-look at what I can offer as a drummer.
So here’s a couple of things I’ve done recently:

  1. I’ve added a bit of tech to my setup, a bit like these drum triggers.  They enable me to enhance the musical experience.  Sure I could get away with just playing with a degree of finesse on an acoustic kit, but why fight the tech?
  2. I’ve REALLY started to learn some, not all, of the rudiments.  I knew them already, I just thought I could play them properly – turns out that was in my head.  These rudiments will enable me to enhance the musi….oh we’ve done that.

Now let me be clear.  Nobody has forced this on me.

I could have carried on as I am, but as with Web 3.0 (yes, it’s kinda here), I’m embracing it because I’ve opened my mind and recognise it has a place and value.  However, the problem with having all the ‘chops’ and tech at your disposal is that, sometimes, the following sort of thing happens.

‘Bille Jean’ – drum cover

This is what us drummers call not being ‘in the pocket’.  In other words, you have no groove, you are not list-e-ning to the mu-sic.

Some drummers are naturally gifted with ‘pocket’ e.g. Steve Gadd, Jeff Porcaro and Leon ‘Ndugu’ Chancler who played on the original ‘Bille Jean’.  I met Leon at a drum festival once.  He told me that Jackson told him to keep it four-on-the-floor, no deviation.  There are some subtleties to what Leon plays, but make no mistake, ‘Bille Jean’ is a very difficult song to drum along to because you can easily fall into temptation.

‘Pocket’ is about listening. It’s about agility. It allows other musicians to work with you and, more importantly, it helps your audience to take a little more notice of the music.  For me, ‘pocket’ is THE basic in a drummer’s toolkit.  If you haven’t got it, you work towards it.  I continously work at finding and applying it in the right and responsive context.  And I still don’t get it right.

There’s an underlying L&D narrative here, but hey, you’re cleverer than me and I’ve bored you this far.

Keep Enabling.

(PS Paradiddle rudiment. Lifesaver.  Learn it here.)


CPD, Learning

You remember that hilariously classic TV moment from the 70s involving boy scouts on a roller coaster?  Y’know, the one from ThatBastardMonster’ll Fix It .

The unknown. The expressions. The mess. Great viewing.

That was me, yesterday, at the CIPD 2015 exhibition in London (Day 2).

Let me take you on a snapshot of my ride.

  1. Arrive [climb into car]
  2. Want to leave [car climbs]
  3. Meet Kevin (@donnyboy71) [Kevin is next to me. His arms are in the air]
  4. We share an experience [Kevin holds on to his lunch]
  5. Again! Again!

And so it continues. People jump on. People jump off.

Fear is a bugger, isn’t it. I know that one day very soon, Reader’s Digest will come through my door. No, sorry……I will unknowingly subscribe digitally.  Fear was something that the quite incredible Julian Stodd observed and blogged recently.

My fear yesterday was about where L&D would continue to add value in the medium term. Yes we scaffold, we curate, we analyse, we play Acronym Bingo, but how long will this last? In this age of PLE and PLN (Bingo!), how long before Millenials, BBoomers, Gen X etc (by the way, it’s a load of tosh) just work it out for themselves?

They already have, haven’t they.

But then I spoke to someone who gave me hope (*stirring music*).  He of identified gender shall remain nameless, but Martin reminded me of that work that ‘falls under the other areas of HR’ – Talent Management, Recruitment and Retention, Performance etc.

We co-own that. We so bloody co-own that….with everyone.

Clearly I haven’t got a clue, and my comments are indicative of the organisational setup I’ve been part of in the last few years. (Colleagues, if you are reading, I have much admiration for you. Sincerely. Truly.)

We all need to let go a bit. Put our arms in the air.

And this, dear friend(s) is when I turn to Toto – they of hits such as ‘Africa’ and ‘Rosanna’ (still one of the tightest, funkiest, most difficult drum beats ever).

Let us pray:

“I’ve been waitin’ for your love, and it’s been here all the time right in front of me”

Now, I didn’t say this to Martin (nor do I have a need to), but thank you Martin. For me, it’s added to my purpose.

Yesterday was about overcoming some of my fears: networking, socialising, punching way way way above my weight.  It’s reminded me of what I still need to do. I’m comfortable with that. I even accepted the ‘Knob’ comment on presentation of my badge.

I’m a better person for the whole experience.

I want to congratulate Andy Lancaster and all at CIPD for finally grabbing my attention again after seven long years. Well done. I wish you great success.

For those who gave me your time, your ears and your wisdom, thank you.

Lead on.
‘Knob’ out.

#cipdLDshow #ldinsight

D to A


Warning: What follows is all over the place.

For those who haven’t followed the Government’s digital transformation agenda, don’t worry, you won’t have had to.

It’s all around you.

From renewing your driving license to making an employment tribunal claim, the channel shift is both subtle and immense, as are the efforts to support those who are digitally illiterate.

The folks at GDS have been one of the powerhouses behind this, with many industries and professions (not just UX people) seeing them as one of THE leaders in service design and delivery.  Their Service Design Manual is really worth exploring, in particular their methodology in how to execute the phases of service design.

As L&Ders, we are familiar with this methodology within the workplace. We do Alpha > Beta > Live. We ‘Retire’. We do Agile. Right?


In this so-called VUCA world, it’s made me think.

But here’s the thing….. as L&Ders, are we in a state of perpetual ‘Discovery’ when it comes to our own learning and its associated application?

A/B reminds me about the good old audio cassette. Two sides, infinite looping.
The cassette player…..Play, Stop, Rewind/Forward, Record. Pause.


I own a ‘CPD Controller 1000’ (patent pending). There’s no Pause on it, but there are some Level indicators.  I keep monitoring them.  I am the DJ (sorta).   I am in control (sorta).  I might get requests like ‘Hey Nick, do you know #CPDorDIE?’, but a quick glance at the Levels and I can see I’m nudging red.

One of the NHS Five Steps to Wellbeing is to Keep Learning.  Well, do you know what, sometimes it’s OK to Pause Learning.

I turn to my Controller and ‘Fade In’ some ‘Practice’.

Now, I know what you are going to say here. Practice is still learning.  Indeed it is.
But, when’s the last time you made that jump from D to A in your workplace?

And that, dear friends, was all over the place.



I recently had one of those Personality Profile things conducted at work. Look at the questions, don’t over-analyse…….me, colleagues, relationships, Frappe or Flat White.

It was good. Frighteningly good.

The Exec Summary confirmed my hopes and fears. Here are some fear nuggets.

He tends not to trust strangers (In the word of Julia Roberts “I’m a safety girl”)

May appear unsociable (note the modal verb)

May benefit from:

Realising that social interaction is essential to personal growth
(Agree.  That’s partly why I started the T-ELO Meetup)

Meeting with and talking to more assertive and energetic people

Understanding that seeking knowledge for knowledge’s sake does not a great academic make (harsh)

The last one leads me to Heutagogy (L&D not A&E). For those not familiar and still struggling to pronounce, H…gy is learning to learn. It’s learner-centric. It’s mindfulness. (“From Andragogy to Heutagogy” Stewart Hase and Chris Kenyon December 2000.)

I read a fair bit during 2014, but I question how much of it has gone in, and more importantly, how much I’ve put into practice. Throughout 2015, it’s clear that I really need to focus and conceive a fluid and robust learning and curation workflow, but more importantly, a clear profile of what I know and what I REALLY NEED to know.

Harold Jarche’s upcoming Personal Knowledge Mastery is timely and developments around Personal Learner Knowledge Graph and xApi may help me along the way.

Finally, this from @JulianStodd

“In the social age, knowledge itself is no longer power: your ability to synthesise meaning out of multiple sources, your ability to add value, to reinvent yourself and effect change,your generosity of time and expertise, these are the things that add value……It’s not about what you know and hide away, it’s about the conversations that you get into andhow generous you are (and how willing you are to learn).”

Happy New Year and Keep Enabling.

Robin van PLE SRL (Week 4 #ocTEL)


To date, my experiences of e-assessment and e-feedback have been pretty simplistic and, to be fair, I wouldn’t class them within these categories.

Whilst a strong spirit of traditional learning collaboration exists within my current workplace (e.g. ALS), our shrinking workforce and accommodation sites should provide license to explore new concepts in the use of T-EL in support of our flexible working strategy.

However, my concern lies with an inherent cultural ethos of “spoonfed” learning. Most staff here expect (and receive) training…and why not.

But the shift to SRL is new….like, ‘how do you spell that?’-new.

I am confident that pockets of workplace SRL already exist – actually, I think a lot of staff probably just don’t realise they are doing it – but a formalised mobilization of this new approach needs to happen on a small scale.

Over the next few months, I am hoping to pilot e-assessment and e-feedback as a proof of concept with some procurement practitioners. The strategy, mechanism and tools are unclear as yet, but JISC’s publication on e-assessment along with previous ocTEL’s modules are providing rich cud.

Here are my initial thoughts in response to ocTEL’s questions:

    1. Why did/would you choose a particular type of e-assessment? Describe why you think it is effective and how it can help deepen knowledge and understanding.
      I think my first thought is ‘how deep do we want to go’? Rewind ocTEL Week 2. I’m no expert (you already spotted that), but it feels to me that different assessment design and techniques and associated technologies can lend themselves to different outcomes.Unless you are Yoda, put these words in the right order………“bleeding the obvious stating”

If I relate back to JISC’s definitions, I feel initially we are heading towards the ‘Associative Perspective’, but as the need for leaner ‘scaffolding’ diversifies, so will the required Perspectives.

2. In your experience, what type of approach creates an environment conducive to self-directed learning, peer support and collaborative learning? How might technology help?

I read something about this somewhere. Ah yes, Participation in Forums (René F. Kizilcec, Daniel McFarland -March 2014).  Check out OU’s iBook on SRL too (A.Mikroyannidis et al – December 2013)

3. What opportunities and challenges does this approach present to tutors?

“I’m an Enabler, not a Tutor.” Nick Ribeiro (June 2014).
My main challenge right now is to influence and persuade the organization – and I don’t mean the learners.

Now where was I?  Ah yes…
Come on the Dutch!!

Magic ‘Moments’ (#ocTEL)


Firstly, for the record, I am not a Dropout.  Not in the MOOC sense anyway.

Because of recent life events (e.g. Eurovision), time has become even more precious recently, so here’s a summarised summary of #ocTEL Week 2.

(Week 1: Failed.)

Week 2 focuses on ‘approaches to learning’ and asks:

  1. Has my ‘approach’ to ocTEL used a variety of these ‘approaches’ or
    leaned on one?
    This has depended on my Moment of Need. If you asked me last week,
    I would have said ‘Surface’/’Deep’. But something has happened at work recently.  People have started to show signs of lis-te-ning.  I can’t be absolutely sure, but there is a meeting
    this Thursday to talk about TEL.   For me, this has triggered all five Moments and refocused my approach to this MOOC.
  2. Are learners who tend to take a ‘surface’ approach likely to learn
    more or less effectively online versus face-to-face?

    Oooooh! Ooooh! Me! Me! I know this one!
    The answer is: ‘What’s in it for me’, ‘MoN’ and ‘Design’.
    (You’re shaking your head.)
  3. How might we encourage ‘deep learning’ in online contexts?
    Under ‘AOB’. I’ll come back to you.

That was deep. Dizzy now.
(Wordcount: Pathetic)