My Edu Web Highlights

Every single week I consume a lot of content on the Web, much of it in some way related to the world of education. With emails, my daily news and other ‘updates’ workflows, Twitter and those things I am pointed in the direction of by friends, family and colleagues, I am inundated with edu content that I try to engage with. Some of it is great, some of it sporadically interesting, and some of it is less so on both counts. But there are a number of routines I have established in engaging with media related to (very directly, or sometimes more loosely) education. I thought there might be some value in sharing them.

I am a regular reader of the following weekly newsletters, which I would highly recommend for anybody who is an educator, particularly those who also hold interests in such things as productivity, philosophy, open working, and technology (and its impact on education, politics and society more generally):

Oliver Quinlan‘s ‘Quinlearning’ newsletter, a well-informed and very readable weekly, Oliver’s offering draws together his wide variety of personal and professional experience as a primary school teacher, university lecturer, independent consultant, research project manager for Nesta, music producer and (current) role working on some super cool stuff for the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Expect self-penned articles, curated articles from across the web, an insight into the things he’s currently working on in his day job, as well as some interesting suggestions for reading material and gadgets that he recommends taking a look at. It’s a well-embedded part of my weekly routine, and I suggest you jump aboard. His website is here, and you can subscribe to his newsletter here. Both are good investments in time, if you ask me!

Doug Belshaw‘s ‘Thought Shrapnel’ newsletter, another great weekly read, offers some similarities to Oliver’s in terms of subject matter, though its content arrives at the reader from a slightly different angle. Doug is currently working as an independent consultant – his website is here – and was formerly a secondary school History teacher and Head of E-Learning before a taking up an interesting role integrating technology throughout the HE and FE sectors with Jisc infoNet. It is perhaps Doug’s work with the Mozilla Foundation, however, that I personally think adds a lot of value to my weekly reading. At Mozilla, Doug worked on the Open Badges Framework and is generally interested in alternative, modular and (crucially) ‘open’ methods of credentialing. His newsletter often reflects this, and I have to say it is to my great annoyance that I have done far more reading, thinking and planning around these credentialing ideas than I have actually actioning any of them, but his newsletter is a constant (and helpful) reminder that I should get on with it! You can subscribe to it here.

Laura Hilliger‘s ‘Freshly Brewed Thoughts’ takes a fairly similar look at the themes I listed above, but from yet another angle. Having formerly worked at Mozilla (like Doug, above), amongst a plethora of really interesting technology and education organisations, Laura is currently working in a fascinating-sounding role for Greenpeace. Her enthusiasm for open models of working appears to be a little at odds with a wholly more traditionally-minded organisation, but I enjoy reading about her progress in helping the organisation to move forward in this area. I especially enjoy reading her well-informed and candid thoughts about all aspects of leadership. I try to take much of it on board in my role as the head of a small department in the school I work in. I fail often, but I try. And reading the honest opinions of somebody I have a lot of professional respect for makes me feel just that little bit better when it doesn’t all go to plan. She’s real, and she’s worth a read. At least once a week, I’d say. Her website can be found here, and her newsletter exists here.

Additionally, education podcasts are a big part of my weekly consumption of education content. Mainly because I have about 80 minutes a day of otherwise ‘dead’ time sat on a school bus to and from work in Cairo. Though I occasionally use the journey time to catch up on sleep, listen to music or think through priorities for the day, so that I can maximise my productivity once I walk through the door, I sometimes listen to education podcasts. Here’s a few that I try to keep up with each week (though I am quite behind with some, to be fair):

This one’s a bit of a plug, I’m not going to lie. My friend Tom Rogers, an independent consultant, online tutor and former Head of History, and I record a (mostly) weekly podcast called Staffroom Rambles. We talk about all kinds of things to do with education: teacher recruitment and retention issues, pay and conditions, the academisation agenda, the benefits of group work (or not), assessment, ‘academic’ vs. ‘vocational’ subjects and their relative statuses, moaning in the staffroom, digital professionalism and tens of other topics have already featured in our first 9 episodes. As well as enjoying the weekly excuse to chat to Tom, who I see very infrequently now that I have once again moved overseas, I find the opportunity to engage in conversation about all sorts of topics affecting education to be interesting, and it forces me to keep relatively up to date with a wide range of agendas at those moments when I might have otherwise had an early night! You can follow us on Twitter here, catch us on Soundcloud here and hear all of our episodes here. Feel free to suggest content for future episodes, of course.

Another weekly favourite of mine is yet again the work of Doug Belshaw (and his co-host Dai Barnes), this time in the form of the TIDE (Today in Digital Education) podcast, a weekly look at all things edtech. There is simply too much content to describe in any detail here but if it has existed in the edtech world at any point over the last few years then it’s probably featured on this podcast. Dai’s current role as the Head of Digital Strategy at an independent boarding school in the UK adds a different angle to some of the discussions, which I find particularly interesting. You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here or check out other subscription options at their website here.

Finally, I am a big fan of the very well-established podcast (that I have been fortunate to appear as a guest on five times) from Pivotal Education, the Pivotal Podcast. Originally discussing ‘just’ behaviour management and all of its related considerations, it now takes a very broad look at all things education from just about every angle you can imagine. Hosted (almost always, anyway) by the brilliant duo of Paul Dix and Kevin Mulryne, this is an absolute must for all educators. My thinking has shifted on so many issues from hearing the views of its many guests’ expeiriences and opinions. There is just so much to get your teeth into here that it’s a definite go-to favourite of mine. I hope I’ll be forgiven the fact that I’m about 30 episodes behind! You can subscribe on iTunes here and visit the podcast’s website here.

So, the above offerings make up much of my staple diet of education content. Check them all out. I’m sure there will be something to grab your interest in and amongst.

Is there something you think I should be reading/hearing that I’m not? Any suggestions are very welcome indeed! To get in touch, simply leave a reply on this blog post, get in touch via Twitter, or contact me here.