11 posts categorized "2007"

January 01, 2008

When the only way to wish Happy New Year is...

Img_0147 ... on a blog. Happy new Year to you all from Edinburgh, including all those who filled up my phone memory this morning when the network finally came back on.

Point of note: more Christmas cards and New Year wishes received via mobile phone than on cardboard and paper than ever before, with more people doing both than just using their mobile. Transition or die-hard traditions living on?

December 30, 2007

2007's Top Five Photos in Review

Dean has set me one of the toughest end-of-year-navel-gazing-but-jolly-good-fun tasks: my favourite five photos. I could spend a long time on this, so I've also used Flickr's interestingess and stats, too, along with my personal prefs to find the five ones that mean the most:

Firefoxscreensnapz016The most beautiful baby on the planet, my number one choice for a photo (though not taken by me). Amongst the memorable times, her first aeroplane trip to New Zealand - 26,000 miles at six weeks.


One of my cheeky shots at BLC07 this year of Will, it's indicative of the thrill and fun I had meeting old friends and meeting old online friends for the first time. Our evening on the ship, with raucous laughter and far too much of Christian Long's favourite brandy, made all this blogging stuff worthwhile! [more pics]


This was a pivotal moment for me: the people (and beer) that made me decide to go self-employed. Steve Moore, left, is one person to whom I am eternally grateful, for his confidence-boosting and considerable recommendations that have led to many an interesting rencontre. Euan Semple helped me work out how much ($) and how much (:-) I was worth. This scene is from Reboot in Copenhagen, a conference/unconference based around the theme of Human?, at which I talked without meaning to, and had confirmation from those outside education that education was doing lots of things right. [more pics]


The stats say you love this one: the kilos of kit required to keep online conferences on the road (and this RSS/Flickr/unconference junkie in one piece). I've since upped my insurance cover... This particular bunch of kit was for something else I loved, but didn't have enough photos for: TeachMeet.


Mike Coulter decided at the beginning of 2007 that anyone interested in social media in Edinburgh needed a place to wax lyrical: Edinburgh Coffee Morning was born. The off-white tables at Centotre have been the stage for many a discovery, a talk-through, an idea-bounce, a new friendship. Thanks to Mike for starting it all, and all the lads and lasses who've made it along on those early morns this year. [more pics]

2007's Travel in Review

Gcmap On the cue of Euan and Roo, and after feeling that I was traveling a lot more this year than last, I find out from The Great Circle that I've only done about 6000 miles more in 2007 than 2006 (about Boston and back). 

How so?

  • Less travel in Scotland, as I concentrated on only one Local Authority as part of the eduBuzz project instead of 32 authorities while working full time on the MFLE in 2006
  • I made a huge effort to combine as many gigs into each bout of travel as I could.

This year, for the sake of the planet we're leaving Catriona and the purses of those employing me, I'll be trying to combine even more trips and trying to convince people that it's more worthwhile hiring my time over the longer term than getting me to come and wow people for just one day. Check out my forthcoming talks or Dopplr calendar if you would like me to drop in while I'm in your neighbourhood/country/continent this coming year.

PS: I should point out that the public purse pays for less than 2% of these miles traveled.
PPS: I don't drive, so this really is nearly all the travel I've done.

December 29, 2007

Annual Learning Log: what does it tell us where to go next?

 I've spent some time this past week putting together an annual reflection, which ended up centring around five areas:

1/5: Hit or miss? Spotting innovation that's worth spotting
2/5: The changing ways of the public sector
3/5: eduBuzz: East Lothian online publishing increases 5000%
4/5: Building a business
5/5: Having a bash - social media gets social

For me, it's been worthwhile in clarifying some of what I feel I can contribute over the next year. Here's what I can see happening over these five areas in the next year or so:

Turning innovations into ubiquitous practice:
Many of the innovations spotted earlier this year have yet to hit mainstream classrooms or businesses. In the case of Scottish education, I think we need to make a concerted effort to learn from these new tools to nuance our existing ones, especially in the national intranet, Glow. We might even have to start talking to their creators to see if they would be interested in widgetising just for us (with the carrot of other VLEs and intranets to conquer thereafter).

Showing change really is innovative:
Over the past year I've used a lot of tools. I despise those who play them down with something along the lines of "all the rage this year, but will it be around in 2009?". It doesn't matter. It's what we learn from these tools, however transient they may be, that is important.

However, there is still a need for more research and action research to make a case for the emerging practices which emerging technologies bring around. There's also a need for much more prevalence to be given to this work by national education agencies the world over, and by initial teacher education institutes, whose efforts to work with new technologies are handicapped by the attitudes of younger new teachers and simplistic attitudes of those longer in the tooth that "new teachers get all this already". They may understand how to hold the new pencils, but they don't all know how to write with them yet, let alone teach others how to.

Robust research is needed to make an intelligent case where one is there to be made.

Changing ways faster with frameworks:
Both business and education still lack a coherent example of togetherness when it comes to attitudes to online literacy, or media literacy in its wider sense. I'm working on some outlines for business which take their lead from educational practice, outlines which have proven very successful with some clients already. However, the educational understanding of media literacy still doesn't place enough importance on the digital element, and there is still far too much ignorance in the highest echelons of our establishments for anything transformative to work its way into the classroom. I think it's Learning and Teaching Scotland's job to do that, and we've already started our plans to put digital literacy firmly on the map this coming year.

The changing face of professional development
Companies need to realise that they have to be learning machines if they are to thrive into the next decade; those working in education need to realise that it's not just students who need to study. However, the social mechanisms we have worked on this past two years clearly work when it comes to showing teachers new methods and tools, and getting them to use them effectively in the long term. There'll be plenty more live events this year to bring more educators together to talk about what they do.

5/5: Having a bash - social media gets social

This is the final element of five parts in a personal learning log review of 2007. It might be of  help to you, might not be. Bear with me, and normal service will be resumed...

Teachmeet07_2 In 2006 I had started to organise TeachMeets and various other informal unconferences for teachers and techies to talk about teaching, learning and technology, preferably with large doses of beer, bordeaux and blogs. I eventually got around to learning some of the things to do, and not to do, and the events continue to provide a safe haven for some of the most inspirational teachers to inspire and be inspired. In 2007 this continued apace:

January 7th and March 3rd: The inaugural BarCampScotland, which I helped create, was announced and ended up being a resounding success, with 150-odd attendees from across the tech and education industry meeting on common social media ground. December 15th, and the second BarCampScotland is announced for February 2nd 2008.

January 19th, and Edinburgh Coffee Morning began, every Friday from that point at 8am in Centotre. Since then, these coffee morning boys (and the occasional woman) have become great friends and allies as we try to get more social media projects undertaken in Scotland. It continues to be a source of inspiration, finds, community-building and trading of work.

On February 4th we talked about Glow, life, love, blogging and education in a Stormhoek-fuelled haze as Hugh MacLeod paid some Scottish edubloggers a visit in their local.

On April 30th I announced the third edition of TeachMeet to be taking place in Edinburgh on May 23rd: we had a great time and learned loads.

By June 23rd we were ready for some more learning and drinky-poos, hence the inaugural Beer 2.0. Such as success it was, we did Beer 2.0.1 the following week.

August 9th marked the first steps towards TeachMeet07, the fourth edition to be held at Glasgow's Science Centre on September 19th, and gnerously sponsored for the first time, by Channel 4, whose In The Wild event brought the discussion of young people's media habits to a wider audience still.

Almost simultaneously, we had calls and requests for England and Wales' first TeachMeet, at BETT on January 11th 2008.

This will also be the first job to get through on the return to work this January, and I hope to be able to see you in London on January 11th. I wonder what the main innovations will be in 2008. Maybe I'll try to predict something which eventually becomes true, or gets lost until next year's roundup. That, however, is at least one more year to put down to experience...

Related posts:
1/5: Hit or miss? Spotting innovation that's worth spotting
2/5: The changing ways of the public sector
3/5: eduBuzz: East Lothian online publishing increases 5000%
4/5: Building a business
5/5: Having a bash - social media gets social

4/5: Building a business

This is the fourth of five parts in a personal learning log review of 2007. It might be of  help to you, might not be. Bear with me, and normal service will be resumed...

Travel This year I made, for me, a big decision: to become self-employed.

February 8th, I discovered that Hugh thought I was a global microbrand, yet by April 10th I realised that having "new technologies" written in your job description actually means you do less new stuff than anyone else. I was unhappy, frustrated and not in a position to do any half-decent work. Innovation units don't work, innovation throughout the organisation does, and when my boss saw this post he agreed.

This was where I started to realise something had to give if I was going to be able to get my head around what I really wanted to research. Writing for the Guardian's Comment is Free was just such a thing, and by May 15th I had made my first post, managing to get foul language in by line two for good measure.

I took Hugh at his word after an inspiring meetup with Steve Moore, Euan Semple and Dave Winer at Reboot9 on May 31st, where I decided to become self-employed. The confirmation papers of my new status came through the week Catriona was born. I've never looked back.

It's involved some serious travel, but since June 6th Dopplr helped me and my pals keep track of each other, and meet up for the occasional serendipitous pint and wife and bub have been able to come with me to New Zealand, Holland and London on a few occasions already. The six week Catriona already had silver membership of the Star Alliance Diamond Club.

Deciding to work part of the week for myself has meant, ironically, more innovation and research for Learning and Teaching Scotland, and avenues down which I maybe would have chosen not to follow before, the links so tenuous to what we would call 'traditional education innovation' channels, at first glance. It's meant that the worlds of big business, mainstream media, social media, television, internet and transmedia, public sector and private PLCs, small and medium enterprises have all blended to provide interesting alternatives to the ways things would 'normally be done'.

For the moment, at least, I'm still for hire... ;-)

Related posts:
1/5: Hit or miss? Spotting innovation that's worth spotting
2/5: The changing ways of the public sector
3/5: eduBuzz: East Lothian online publishing increases 5000% 
5/5: Having a bash - social media gets social

3/5: eduBuzz: East Lothian online publishing increases 5000%

This is the third of five parts in a personal learning log review of 2007. It might be of  help to you, might not be. Bear with me, and normal service will be resumed...

Edubuzz I was employed from August 2006 to see how Learning and Teaching Scotland could help enhance a teacher-sharing project, Exc-el, in East Lothian Council. I joined a team that, throughout 2007 created such a passion for online publishing we netted a 5000% increase in sharing practice and ideas online, from 20 teachers sharing their expertise, to over 1000 teachers, managers, technicians, students and parents working together in a new service: eduBuzz.

January 9th, and after three months of research, training events and talking with the teachers of East Lothian, we were looking at changing most of the old Exc-el formula - eduBuzz was born. Six months later we had just over 1000 bloggers in East Lothian.

July 18th: I was able to share how we created this excitement and increased morale, in part down to the technologies team, at the Building Learning Communities 2007 conference in Boston. On October 12th I was invited to expand on this in a keynote the Building Learning Communities 2008 conference on the theme of how online teacher development can help change attitudes and culture, and on August 12 published the adoption strategy outline in time for a Scottish outing at the Learning Festival.

January 19th: The first structure for TeachMeet Roadshow training events was floated. This now forms a highly successful basis for training teachers in constantly moving technology in East Lothian and beyond, including those working in the Higher Education sector who turned up on July 1st to see how the form of their professional development could change for the better.

On January 21st, I set out why schools shouldn't have school websites, but have more messy networks of blogs. In December, we hear that Musselburgh Grammar School has, four years after and small group of students and I started to blog there, moved completely over to self-publishing for its school website.

February 15th: We sneaked through a change to take East Lothian education resources into Creative Commons.

June 14th was an opportunity to guage how we were doing with a visit from education and technology visionary Stephen Heppell. Far from focusing just on technology in East Lothian - something one just can't do since it's part and parcel of a fulsome education being delivered to students, from active playful learning and critical thinking approaches, to the use of students' own gaming consoles for learning and learning environments.

The latter had been of interest in particular since hearing about the Stovner school in Norway, on May 23rd about which I spoke, in an East Lothian context, to our Head Teachers on June 19th. Since then, the whole notion of why we come to school in the first place and how many students should 'attend' at once has been challenged by my visit on July 17th to the MET Schools in Providence.

I no longer work in East Lothian Council, after five-and-a-half years of teaching French and German, working with the ICT Team and then developing national projects from that work. I'm already missing my classroom, and know I'll miss working with such a great team at the Council HQ.

Related posts:
1/5: Hit or miss? Spotting innovation that's worth spotting
2/5: The changing ways of the public sector 
4/5: Building a business
5/5: Having a bash - social media gets social

December 28, 2007

2/5: The changing ways of the Public Sector

This is the second of five parts in a personal learning log review of 2007. It might be of  help to you, might not be. Bear with me, and normal service will be resumed...

Royal_channel People often say that the public sector is the last to move when it comes to innovation, especially on the web. This year has proven a little different.

In February I briefed the executive board of the regulatory body of Scottish teachers, the GTCS, on how social media and gaming could change the way that they communicated with teachers as well as make a difference in the classroom. By December, their website contains a host of blogs and the winning dissertation from the Bachelor of Education course discusses the educational impact of using Railroad Tycoon II in the classroom. Their draft guidelines on teacher professionalism and conduct, published on November 12th, are heartening in their mention of social networking as a potentially positive force when used appropriately in our personal lives. Progress indeed.

We're not always getting that point across, though. On February 10th, my brother explained how his sister Sunday paper broke a huge story 60 hours early on the web first, before selling the paper edition. I've not worked out (yet) how to get all of our Curriculum architects, civil servants and technology experts to think the same way about consultation and development of public services.

By the 19th I was wondering whether intranets, especially our national one Glow, would in fact only help to stifle innovative uses of technology by teachers at the chalkface. Since then, having been offered a new job in December, I'm part of a team innovating Glow over the next few years to bring what happens already in our classrooms into Glow, and, ultimately, provide classrooms with real innovations (i.e. truly new stuff) of which they could only perhaps dream. Just a tad challenging, then ;-), but possible with the help of the amazing education community on our doorstep.

On March 8th I had an opportunity to speak to senior politicians, civil servants, think tank members and Fellows of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA). I appalled some of them with my take on the superb things technology is empowering the very young, the very old and the until-now-disenfranchised citizen: the teen. Yet, in late November I was invited by the Board of Trustees to become a Fellow of the RSA, for my work in trying to democratise education and society through social media. In December I became Ewan McIntosh FRSA, and hope to use it to apply some more social media thinking to the way the countries and regions of the UK are governed. Just goes to show, being diplomatic isn't always the best diplomacy.

On April 3rd the public education agency Learning and Teaching Scotland decided to concentrate on providing more video coverage of pedagogies and new technologies. We started with YouTube, BlipTV and Google Video, and ended the year with a successful BlipTV HDTV channel and our very own nascent Flash player, which should have universal unblocked usability in Scottish schools.

May 4th I was invited to contribute to the first of several summits looking at the future of Computing Studies in an age of ubiquitous social media, no-skill 'programming' and content creation. We started to look at how Computing Science and programming the tools rather than just using them is the most important language of tomorrow (and this, I hasten to add, coming from a linguist).

C4_logo On the other hand, May 10th saw DK and I making our joint-appearance debut at Channel 4, looking at how young people consume, produce and interact with online worlds and networks: they snack on their media.

This was one of many consultation days and meetings that Channel 4 Education had undertaken, leading to an amazing slate of programming being announced in December. The team has moved 80% of formerly educational television to the online socially networked environment inhabited by the audience. I've had great fun ooh-ing and ah-ing the C4 guys on in this risqué challenge as a member of the Education and New Media Advisory Board.

The theme of freeing up information became stronger as the year wore on, and August 18th brought the first moves in LTS towards using some of the information we hold to make schools and schooling more accessible. Just weeks later, by September 5th, we had many of our schools mapped out on Google Maps with more plans afoot to make this information useful for job seekers and probationers looking for schools to be placed in.

Connlive_2ndlife On September 18th we also launched the public sector's first foray into 'user generated content', in the form of Connected Live on the web and on SecondLife, a modest but promising branching out of the print magazine we publish. It brings together a large number of the most current and active bloggers in Scotland, with plans set to branch this out to a more international audience in the new year. We had been playing with the notion for two years in the Modern Foreign Languages Environment, which later this year on November 12th, was shortlisted and commended for its innovative elearning offering for teachers at the UK eLearning Awards.

Meanwhile, in Edinburgh, we saw campaigns run through social networks such as Bebo and Facebook managing to help keep over 20 schools open, safe from closure.

Even our First Minister gets it, starting his own blog on October 10th, and the Queen getting her own YouTube channel into gear in time for Christmas. Her 2007 Queen's Speech opened with an excerpt from fifty years ago, apt for describing things today:

That it is possible for some of you to see me today is just another example of the speed at which things are changing all around us. Because of these changes I am not surprised that many people feel lost and unable to decide what to hold on to and what to discard. How to take advantage of the new life without losing the best of the old.

But it is not the new inventions which are the difficulty. The trouble is caused by unthinking people who carelessly throw away ageless ideals as if they were old and outworn machinery.

When even the Queen uses YouTube, it's high time to recognise the importance of media literacy in our school curricula, so the Media Literacy Summit at Channel 4 on November 18thwas a great starting point, helping to influence the Byron Report on how the internet and video games influence young people. Taking the initiative, the Scots in the audience were quick to point out that neither the Byron Report nor the so-called 'UK Media Literacy Charter' have any currency north of the border, so we will be aiming in 2008 at producing something more agile and long-lasting that fits with the more open curriculum and more flexible (we hope) attitudes in Scotland.

Teachers, too, will have to get into the habit of publishing online, and not simply 'reflecting' on the job in the car on the way home, when on November 27th full blog integration was announced for the CPD (Professional Development) Reflect tool that will form part of every Scottish teacher's online toolkit in Glow, the national intranet.

I finished the year, on November 29th, thinking that, perhaps in certain respects, the public sector was streets ahead of the publishing industry when it came to innovation for impact's sake, when I addressed and discussed 21st Century publishing with leading houses in London.

With a new job finally undertaken on December 3rd, I've got a couple of years to prove it, but, as you'll see in the next part, some areas of Scotland with whom I was lucky enough to work this year have already got a grip on what sustainable social innovation is all about.

Related posts:
1/5: Hit or miss? Spotting innovation that's worth spotting 
3/5: eduBuzz: East Lothian online publishing increases 5000%
4/5: Building a business
5/5: Having a bash - social media gets social

1/5 - Hit or miss? Spotting innovation that's worth spotting

This is part one of five parts in a personal learning log review of 2007. It might be of  help to you, might not be. Bear with me, and normal service will be resumed...

A large part of my work over the past year has just involved getting to know innovative people producing innovative ideas, and helping them to nuance their products or bring them to educators' attention. The year's not been too bad in that respect, with my nose getting keener on innovation than a hog seeking truffles.

Jan 1st: The first of the year's developments in Sharepoint, the technology which underpins our national intranet Glow, whereby users can take a wiki offline to work on it where connectivity is lost.

Quintura Jan 5th: I was still helping East Lothian identify worthwhile web technologies to get their teeth into. Bubbleshare was a great sustainable find, and the others I bet on throughout 2006 (Pageflakes, Netvibes, Quintura) flourished in 2007. Quintura was named the best alternative to Google on December 11th.

January 17th: I stuck my neck out about Internet Protocol TV becoming big, but not before web-based telly had made its mark. In the end, this year saw the launch of Channel 4's 4OD and the BBC's iPlayer was just relaunched in December.

On my birthday, I contributed my educational input into how we could use this relatively new tool called Twitter. I also learned how to get really animated with Oscar Stringer, and discovered Flashmeeting, my favourite free web-based video conferencing and desktop sharing app from the Open University.

At the beginning of March I thought Shotcodes would take over the mobile world. I was wrong. But there's still time.

May 18th was a ground-breaker, getting to experience Scratch for the first time. The potential remains untapped, unfortunately, in most schools, although on May 21st I was able to help convince East Lothian computing studies teachers to create a nascent Scratch curriculum. Meanwhile, in a visit to MIT in Boston on July 17th and from Mitch Resnick's keynote on July 18th I was able to see that the innovation on their part continues in the form of the ScratchBoard.

May 22nd was a great day, meeting Tim Rylands for the first time, and discovering the potential for some 'old tech': Myst. Exploring this game helped me see the potential in others, such as Samorost, for creative imaginative writing. Matching it with some of the work being done by LTS on graphic novels and game-making opened horizons further. After some further thoughts the blog posts finally spawned action across the UK, Australia and New Zealand. It's still not the kind of thing entering most classrooms, which makes me hark back to the main points to come out of that Building Learning Communities conference in Boston in July: it's not creativity that's important, it's ingenuity with the tools at hand.

On July 12th I was the first to break Skitch onto the market, with huge take-up resulting in two more releases of my free invites - everyone catered for now?

Animoto August 17th: this blog was (one of) the first to bring you Animoto after their exclusive tip-off to me earlier that month. Since then, this great tool has provided a free or cheap way for students and educators to produce visual rundowns of their activity when time's been tight (which, in your average classroom, is fairly often).

While, at the beginning of the year, everyone was screaming our for a One Laptop Per Child Laptop, we were getting enthusiastic on November 19th about the incredibly low-cost open-sourced Asus EeePC, when we got to play with one and make our (almost) exclusive inside look video. Watch out in 2008 for some pretty extensive trialling...

It's been a highly innovative year across the technology world, and the public sector has been quick to take advantage of it (with a push and a nudge from our new tech team, it has to be said). Coming up, take a look at how the public service in Scottish education has evolved this past year.

Related posts: 
2/5: The changing ways of the public sector
3/5: eduBuzz: East Lothian online publishing increases 5000%
4/5: Building a business
5/5: Having a bash - social media gets social

Pic: Falkirk Wheel

December 16, 2007

Another year, another blog post, a slightly flatter world

  Home Office 2.0? 
  Originally uploaded by Edublogger

Update: After getting caught out by the latest loss-of-keyboard bug to affect Macs, my learning log will be waiting until the new year, or at least until I can find a cheap USB keyboard to get into the stuff I've already prepared. It was getting interesting, as well...

This week, in between a pretty hectic winding up for two weeks of holiday, I'm going to run through my annual learning log review. It's more for me to see what I've done, what I've forgotten about, what I've got very wrong, and what opportunities remain to be harnessed, but it might be of interest to readers, too. 2006's was good fun anyway.

This year has been fairly mega, its highlight par excellence my beautiful daughter, Catriona, who came into being the same week my papers for becoming self-employed came through. My timing couldn't have been better; a wee one sharpens one's mind somewhat more than before. By the time she was two months old she had already circumnavigated the globe with her mum and me. A truly world-is-flat baby.

This year has involved travel across Scotland and the rest of the UK, 12 other countries on 2 continents, including nearly 40 keynotes, about 20 workshops, and ongoing consultancies with about a dozen world-leading media, education and business organisations, including a new 'day job' with my main employer, Learning and Teaching Scotland, helping define the learning landscape for our education Directors and politicians, and translate that vision into innovation in our classrooms.

So what made this year tick for me? Who did I find inspiring and what lessons did I learn? What were the key moments for me personally, but more importantly for education, technology and social media in the wider world, through the eye-piece of edu.blogs.com? Bear with me over the next week in the run up to Christmas as I head down my learning log's memory lane:

Related posts:
1/5: Hit or miss? Spotting innovation that's worth spotting
2/5: The changing ways of the public sector
3/5: eduBuzz: East Lothian online publishing increases 5000%
4/5: Building a business
5/5: Having a bash - social media gets social

About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

Recent Posts