UKRC Conference, London

Filed Under (Events, General) by ronan on 23-10-2010

As a member of their board I was pleased to attend the Annual conference of the UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology, held at the QEII Centre in Westminster, London on October 12th. As with last year there was a large turnout and some very interesting and engaging debate. The event was very effectively hosted by Kate Silverton, with guest speakers Professor Lord Robert Winston and Dr. Aleks Krotoski, bringing their own perspectives to the issues and speaking with informed passion and commitment. This I felt was in contrast with Miles Templeman CEO of the Institute of Directors who’s contribution was rather limp. With little more than a vague commitment and no evidence of a track record within his own organisation his encouragement of the audience to ask questions was brave if not foolhardy. The inevitable happened and he was very adroitly backed into a corner by questions from an audience that refused to be patronised. In the panel debate I was again impressed by Emily Cummins and also the NUS representative who was brave enough to mention the political dimension of not just the under-representation in the workforce of women but also the political dimension of wider educational debate.

Annette Williams, Director of the UKRC said:  “There were more than 300 delegates from across the public, private and third sectors, all sharing a commitment to building gender equality in science, engineering and technology. This was an important opportunity to explore the issues and inspire action, and we look forward to continuing to extend the debate and work with others to bring about change.”

UKRC website

“There were more than 300 delegates from across the public, private and third sectors, all sharing a commitment to building gender equality in science, engineering and technology. This was an important opportunity to explore the issues and inspire action, and we look forward to continuing to extend the debate and work with other to bring about change.”

Reading Festival

Filed Under (Events, General) by ronan on 02-09-2010

Over the summer I always try to catch up on my reading but this is never successful because I generally find bookshops and buy more books. On holiday in Dalkey just south of Dublin I purchased Fintan O’Toole’s excellent Ship of Fools   from the local “Exchange” bookshop and it has proved to be a fascinating if not frustrating read. The Excahnge bookshop is situated in Dalkey’s main drag, Castle Street just along  from the original public library building (1901) and the newly built public library where, despite the contradictory signs of “free Wifi available here” and “the use of mobile phones is not permitted” I managed to crouch in the general non-fiction section (signed Neamhfhicsean – for Irish speakers) to connect my iPhone to the outside world.

Another bookshop visited was the wonderful Secret Bookshop – in the centre of the city (but I obviously can’t tell you where!)  Here I bought, for just 5 Euros, Niall Murphy’s A Bloomsday Postcard a selection of 250 postcards all posted in Dublin during 1904. Edwardian Dublin had six postal deliveries a day and one on Sunday and the sending of postcards was extremely popular and indeed reliable as evidenced by one card sent by a young man to his sweetheart asking her to meet with him that very same day at Kingstown station (near Dalkey). Many of today’s institutional e-mail systems are less reliable. 

Cutting back through Trinity College to catch the brilliantly named DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transport train) back to Dalkey, I stopped in the TCD boohshop and picked up (half-price 9.99 Euros pbk) Berhard Meehan’s The Book of Durrow which contains 40 full-colour reproductions and a very interesting text. This has reminded me of my probably over ambitious plan, some while back now,  to host an exhibition of illuminated Qur’ans, from the Chester Beatty Library  here in the Grove Library, at Bradford College.
Back to my own summer reading challenge – while driving from Oxford to Winchester en route to the South Downs for a camping trip I was, amid all the flurry of media interest in public libraries, excited to see signs for a reading festival – how proper I thought. Of course it later emerged that this was the Reading (and Leeds) Festival where, according to my guitar hero son, the Libertines did an amazing comeback performance. The Buzzcocks are playing around the corner at Myrtle Park festival on Friday night if anyone fancies it!

LIS Research Coalition conference ‘Evidence, value and impact

Filed Under (Events, Research) by ronan on 13-07-2010

Newton grabs yet another tourist

Held at the British Library this conference was very good – three main reasons the opening keynote speaker Professor Andrew Dillon, University of Texas, was totally engrossed in his subject “An international perspective on the evidence, value and impact of UK LIS research” and came across brilliantly, his slightly off-beat approach was balanced by his indepth understanding of his subject and indeed the audience. The second reason was the one minute madness  session this was well planned and extremely well executed by I’m guessing 25 or so speakers all of whom were interesting brief and focused which of course is the benefit of the Pecha Kucha format. The third reason Charles Oppenheim summed up well and delivered a well pitched presentation. The afternoon workshops on reflection left some room for improvement – they didn’t quite come off or at least their intention was not explicit. The food was bitesized’n’tasty.  I met Biddy whom I had not seen for ages and Brian Kelly was interesting talking about JISC projects etc. I also bumped into Mark Hepworth from Loughborough whom I’ve not seen for ages and who offered to review my forthcoming book.

Full review of this conference can be found here

Librarian as researcher in York

Filed Under (Events, Research) by ronan on 13-07-2010

New building at York St JohnOn Thursday 27th May I travelled to York St. Johns for a conference organised by the CILIP Y&H  University College and Research (UC&R) Group entitled “The Librarian as Researcher: getting your voice heard.” Essentially a library/practitioner guide to research it was well attended and well organised.
I met Hazel Hall of the LIS Research Coalition who invited me to the coalition’s inaugral conference. I also met Miggie Picton who is on the LIRG committee with me and who presented in the afternoon. I heard Professor Jean McNiff present for the first time and I was very impressed with her style which was very engaging using a flip-chart and her drawing skills to clearly outline the theory of action research. I caught up with Sheila Corrall from University of Sheffield who gave a presentation on the research activity being undertaken by students. Sheila also mentioned an award to encourage library and information practitioners in the university, college and research sector who are at the start of their professional careers or who have not previously published a substantial contribution to the professional literature to write an article for publication. see here 

A ‘key takeaway’ for me from this event was the level of involvement the York St John’s library staff have in supporting research and in undetaking their own research – something I shall be pursuing at Bradford College.

Hazel Hall has posted a review of the day to the LIS Research Coalition web site. This can be seen at


Filed Under (Events, General) by ronan on 12-07-2010

I travelled to the JISC YH Regional Support Centre’s Summer Conference at the Rose Bowl – Leeds Metropolitan University – a wonderful venue. The conference was well attended and the programme engaging and informative. The debate at the close was interesting. Expertly chaired by Ali-Marie Ladwa e-Learning Advisor (HE), (pictured centre in full-flow), the topic was based on the controversial use of mobile (phone) technology in the classroom and it generated a lot of good discussion. I also attended a session on i-Tunes U led by Luke Fieldhouse from Apple, which has given me some ideas about generating learning content that I plan to develop further in the coming months. I had been on a MoleNet training event some weeks back at Burnley College on how to use the i-Phone for teaching and learning and Luke had presented there too – its good that Apple are having a presence at such events. Further information on the JISC Summer Conference is available from here

‘Storing Information in the Cloud’ Unconference

Filed Under (Events, Technology Reviews) by ronan on 12-07-2010

On Friday 21st May 2010 I attended the above ‘unconference’ run by
Aberystwyth University – but held for convenience at the Centre for Excellence in Enquiry-Based Learning (Ceebl) at Manchester University.
The conferecne was one of the outputs of a project that was archive society focused. Cloud computing was seen as a  hot-topic but one that was not very well understood, certainly in the UK.  Unconferencing is something that we were unfamiliar with – the idea being that because of the sense of the unknown associated with the topic there were no fixed presumptions about the structure of our input. But it was almost more difficult to manage an unconference so we ended up with a bit of a hybrid of conference and unconference. During the round table introductions it was apparent that a wide range of interests and different agencies were represented

The first speaker was Dai Davis Solicitor and Chartered Engineer Partner, Brooke North LLP Security and legal issues of the Cloud. This led as all discussions of legal matters invariably do, to lots of what if questions. One aspect that came out of this was the nature of the agreements that are being put in place by the likes of Google and Microsoft with regard to their cloud applications for the educational sectors. Another was the discussion about the G cloud – government cloud.
Dai left his audience with the key point that the Data Protection Act was a critical part of the legal jigsaw. Specifically the principles of: not keeping data for longer than is necessary; taking appropriate measures to ensure it is kept safe; and ‘thou shalt not export data’. The final one of course being of critical importance if you are using Google Apps or Microsoft Edu@Live to store student data in their cloud, which, of course, may be in Cowdenbeath or may be in California.

Steve Bailey Senior Adviser JISC InfoNet spoke about how cloud services in his view are seen as a ‘game changer’. Examples he gave included workflow management systems and document management systems in the cloud used to facilitate globalised markets and collaboration. Graduates want to use their own set of tools and as these users come to the workforce their preferences will need to be taken into consideration. Again he illustrated with the example of an unnamed company in London who on a Monday sent a global e-mail saying that Facebook would be banned and so big was the outcry that by Friday the decision was reversed.

Paul Miller

Paul Miller, (it was good to catch up with him after our metadata days and the MEG (metadata education group) back in the 2001), gave a presentation on the security issues associated with cloud computing. This was centred on; software as a service, platform as a service, infrastructure as a service and storage as a service. Not surprisingly many of the issues were common sense and there were a very many steps that one could take to ensure secure systems. Having said that 100% security was something most delegates, in discussion, accepted was elusive.

My general impression of the conference was positive and I took some highly practical action points away, the most important one being to check the contract we were about to sign with Microsoft Edu@Live for our student email!
Further details of the conference and the project, including a literature review of cloud computing are recorded here.

Syrian presentation

Filed Under (Events, General) by elearning4bradford on 30-11-2009

On Thursday it was my pleasure to give a presentation about the use of e-learning to a Syrian delegation as part of a British Council project. The visitors:
Miss Rania Abdrabeh – British Council , Damascus, Mr Riyad Jebawi – Ministry of Education – responsible for curriculum development and Mrs Mais Kayyali – Director of First Commercial Banking Institute, were interested in the areas of social networking and how we reconciled this with the more ‘serious nature’ of learning. There was a brief discussion of information literacy in the light of the digital natives/digital emigrants scenario. Feddback from their visit to Bradford College has been very positive.

Research Conference Announcement

Filed Under (Events, General, Research) by elearning4bradford on 16-09-2009


Today is a big day in the organising of the Bradford Action Research conference – we have got to the stage of publishing the publicity and making the announcement – here it is!

A two day conference at Bradford College on 19th and 20th November 2009 on aspects of teaching, learning and assessment.

Join academic colleagues for this event to be held at The Henry Mitchell Hall and The Yorkshire Craft Centre, Bradford College.

Conference Fee of £45, includes a conference dinner on the evening of the 19th November at the National Media Museum.

Presentations from academic staff at Bradford College include:

  • Distance Learning: developing and improving practice
  • Cognitive and academic linguistic proficiency
  • Using critical incident analysis in peer review
  • Assignment feedback: formative or futile?
  • Addressing the needs of under-represented HE learners
  • Working towards a model for inclusive education in Initial Teacher Training
  • Improving progression potential
  • Space-fd Project
  • UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology
  • Supporting mentors of Fdsc students in the workplace
  • Assessment strategies that benefit all learners

Additional benefits include:

Lunch on both days will be held in the college’s art gallery, The Bradford Gallery, where delegates will have the opportunity to view our current exhibitions: Darren Baker celebrating the work of our former student,recently commissioned to paint a portrait of HRH The Queen, and our Christmas gift selling show Bedazzled. Delegates will receive a 10% discount on any purchases made.
Dinner at the National Media Museum, Bradford will feature a pre-dinner networking opportunity with entertainment provided by students studying Performing Arts at Bradford College. Dinner and drinks are included in the Conference fee.

Registration opens on 21st September and closes on 9th November. Final confirmation and directions sent to delegates on 13th November. Following the event, conference highlights and papers will be available online on 30th November.

Register here

e-Learning in HE: Strategy and Planning

Filed Under (Events) by elearning4bradford on 11-03-2009

Jisc RSC Yh events logo

I attended the JISC RSC YH event at Doncaster entitled “e-Learning in HE: Strategy and Planning” on Wednesday. The day opened with a thought-provoking presentation from Seb Schmoller from The Association for Learning Technology; he spoke mainly about technology and its impact on learning giving a wide range of examples, his website is here.

Both the workshop presentations I attended were excellent – Phil Badger (University of Huddersfield) talked about an interactive learning resource “The Ethics Game” used in various settings and developed in MS Powerpoint. I was surprised at the amount of interactivity Phil had built into the game. It was based on the philosophy of ethics and presented the learner with ethical choices the consequences of which formed a learning point.

A stimulating presentation from Dr. Kelly Smith, (University of Huddersfield) “Using Web 2.0 technologies to promote student and graduate business start-up – enhancing employability” forced me to consider the world of the Twitter, something I had been vaguely avoiding for a while. I was pleasantly surprised at the “serious” use to which Kelly had put her seemingly well advanced twittering skills and there was no disputing the success she had. It did strike me that the instantaneous and immediacy of the medium , she gave an example of the plane landing on the Hudson being common knowledge in the twitter world within minutes, that twitter was a kind of 21st Century H.G Wells World Brain albeit with a rather short attention span and perhaps no medium or long-term memory.

My own workshop presentation “Moodle – a virtual research environment” seemed very well received and raised some interesting questions. One was about the use by learners of their own technology devices to engage with learning. The other question was concerned with motivating researchers to use the VRE while still remaining independent in their research endeavour. The conclusion was that the minor administrative overhead to researchers should be paid back by the obvious benefits of the VRE.

Best Event of 2008

Filed Under (Events) by elearning4bradford on 31-12-2008

Leonard at the O2 Arena

My best moment of 2008 was seeing Leonard Cohen at the O2 Arena in London in July. A wonderful performer with a voice like a double Bushmills in a smokey bar. He was blatantly honest about his motives for getting back on the stage after 15 years; filling the arena he told us quite simply he needed the money. His accountant had pulled a few tricks and left the poet and songwriter pretty desolate after a lifetime of entertaining. The size of the audience the price of the tickets and the number of gigs he did will mean he can spend a few more nights in a Chelsea hotel room. His song Hallelujah which was the UK Christmas number 1 hit, should generate some royalties too. A good year for Leonard.