Wednesday, 19 August 2015

The attraction of Digital Learning Design

I have been asked to put together a brief synopsis of the attractive benefits of the Digital Learning Design qualifications by a marketing chap from the awarding body.  The following is a summary of the main aspects of the qualifications for both Level 3 and 4:

  • Contains a diverse range of skill sets such as teacher education, graphic design, media production and web authoring.
  • Develops career pathways into being a Instructional Designer, Graphic Designer, Learning Technologist, Website Designer and Teaching
  • Increases organisational and business opportunities by offering new and flexible ways of learning
  • Uses creative and design software
  • Stimulates designer creativity
  • Develops creativity, design, problem solving, analytical skills, team working and communication skills.
  • Supports, manages and maintains a Digital Learning Environment
  • Applies and develops reflection for personal development
  • Explores legal and compliance requirements
  • Considers current trends and issues in the eLearning industry
  • Introduces project planning and management skills and methods
  • Develops understanding and challenges of individual and team communication skills
  • Applies learning theories and the science of learning and eLearning design
  • Applies assessment of and for learning
  • Develops understanding and techniques to implement accessibility features and functions
  • Enables quality assurance methods
  • Develops Instructional Design techniques (analysing, storyboarding, constructing)
  • Emphasises Technology Enhanced Learning by exploring the use of collaborative, immersive, social and mobile technologies
  • Develops training and confidence skills for one to one and group situations
  • Recording, editing and publishing videos and audio
  • Applies graphic design principles, strategies and methods
  • Creates and maintains webpages
  • Develops responsibilities of staying safe online
  • Introduces software development
  • Introduces gaming principles for use in eLearning

I really like these qualifications as they do encompass a range of skill sets, which enables individuals to gain a career in eLearning or to gain wider experience to choose a particular career path.  These qualifications are current and up to date to give individuals the knowledge and performance skills they need to fulfil an eLearning career.  The true value in these qualifications lies within the diversity of the content and the learning experience gained.

Through my experience, these qualifications appear to be attracting graphic designers and ICT/computing individuals that are interested in the digital nature of the content.  However, not everyone understand the role of eLearning which is hard one to pitch to 16-19 year olds.  Plus, understanding pedagogy is essential is a very hard challenge.  Some of our first year apprentices have progressed onto Level 4 with us whilst one has gained employment in a similar eLearning designer role and others are seeking employment in similar roles and web authoring.

I have discussed more in A Year of Digital Learning Design and A Desktop Analysis of eLearning Packages.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Speak your heart

I hope I'm not alone in my feelings of the uncertainty that is dating.  I've been here many times and still not learned a great deal of how to handle these sensitive periods.  I've recently been seeing a guy for the last two months which turned into a relationship and then ended yesterday.  Totally gutted, but kind of expected it.  It ended with differences on both sides.  But maybe another reason why it happened, because I was worrying and panicking too much about if they like and want me that I ended up losing my mind.  I seem to went in a cycle of being happy, have a serious talk, being happy, then having a serious talk.  Which was probably too often during these early stages.  Why can't I let just let things be and go with the flow.  But what is the flow?!  I have never really got this and I feel such a fool for it.  Everyone else seems to find the process easy and settle really well.  Then I just self-destruct and ruin the entire magic that was happening.  Surely I cannot to be the blame for it all, but I sure do.  There was other factors involved that we knew about and more when we talked last night.  But I did open up quite deeply about some inner troubles I had boxed away but I didn't know how to talk about them.  I also tend to give a lot too early in this period, maybe too much.  I buy surprise gifts and possibly make myself too available.  But isn't that what it's about?  Two people liking each other and bouncing off each other.  I find it hard to hold back.  My heart and head refuse to hold back.  But maybe I should, because sometimes the more I give the more I feel disappointed.  But the truth is that you have to give to receive.  I'm just being me.  But I suppose there's no need for this monster that emerges and sabotages everything in it's path. 

Why do I feel like I can't call or text him?  Even though he said I could anytime.  I asked him to communicate with and to me more.  He promised me he would. But why do I feel disappointed?  Do I assume and expect too much?  But surely if two people like each other a lot, surely we should be inseparable?  I feel I make a lot of effort with suggesting ideas and going places and driving through to him.  Maybe I'm needy and high maintenance, but I know that I want to communicate endlessly and feel wanted, needed and desired.  These are some frustrations that ran through my head.  It doesn't sound normal does it.  Or is it?

What I have learned recently which I kind of knew but didn't and still don't know how to properly manage is control.  We all like to control. But how much should we let go? There's no greater power than reducing what you control.  But it's hard.  I once said; don't be too hard on yourself. Life can't always be a certain way. Living life is better and easier when you're not trying to control it.  The biggest fear is that you're not allowing people to be themselves if there's too much control and less freedom.  One main thing I have learned recently from this short love is to talk and have an open heart.  Out of one of the serious conversations we had I shared these.  Communication is everything. Speaking your thoughts no matter how small, big, serious or crazy. Just make them known, it makes a difference.  I've had way more than 9 lives. I'm such a lucky man! But this time it's different, I feel born again and it feels good. Speak your heart.  This was a major revelation for me.  I feel I can openly talk more to others about my worries and troubles.  I've always felt I had to deal with them on my own and not bother or burden others with them.  But now I know I can.  I need to rely more on friends and family.  If I had talked more openly about my frustrations and worries, I would have approached this a lot differently.  And maybe the times before.  I need to relax, I know.  It's pure overthinking which is very dangerous for your mind, health and social life.  I really should take my own advice, which is part of a problem I have!  Negativity is like a set of falling dominoes. How do you stop them falling? You break the link. You take out the ones that create the cause.  Life should not be lived in the usual straight line. Be flexible as life is as flexible as you want it to be.  As always I can help others but never really help myself that much. Another thing I learned is to be more laid back and not rely too much on text communication.  It just keeps you hanging and waiting and causes more expectations.

With all the wisdom I share, you would think I had got all right by now.  But I sure haven't, far from it.  The truth is that I still have not learned and there this will keeping happening until I learn and master this.  How many more dates will I meet that will turn into friends then acquaintances.  Apart from my close friends, I feel I am surrounded by past relationships.  But I have to look at the positive in that, how many can say that they managed to remain friends with their previous lovers?  I'll be forever grateful for the friendship that is offered me after things don't go well.  It means a lot to me.  But I do want love.  But I same to chase it away without knowing I am.  I'm worried I come across really intense.  It's for all good reasons and intentions, but other's may not view it like that.  I just need to learn from this and for sure this time.  It can't continue.  My greatest fear is loneliness and if I don't sort this, I'll be closer to that than I think.  As always I will try to do something about it and quick.  I promise to myself I will and to seek and ask for the he help I need.  If I can perfect other areas of my life, I can sure perfect myself more and it starts with asking, believing and receiving.  I'll ask for love and help, I'll believe that I have this and more and I will be grateful, willing and open to receiving it in the form it arrives to me, with no questioning and overthinking.  Or at least I'll try.  No, I WILL!

Tuesday, 11 August 2015


I LOVE music.  Let me keep it simple. ;-)  It's a major part of my life, I listen to it to uplift and bring out emotions in me.  But I am also deeply connected the rhythms and beats, I seem to analyse music in a way I can't understand, from the music itself to the lyrics and voice expressed.  Take this for an example: "We all have that one song that reminds us of a sad time. On way home today I revisited mine (Katy Perry - Wide Awake) to see how much I've grown since - I certainly have. Lyrically and conceptually, this brings back emotions of loneliness, rejection and much needed self-discovery."

It's a very complicated but beautiful connection I have, this is why music is such a core part of me - listen, connect and release.  I think it all began around in the late 90's.

I mostly listen to pop, dance, R&B and a bit of rock. But I also have a keen interest in who artists are working with such as producers and songwriters.  I'm also interested in sales, certifications and chart positions of albums and singles.  I'm somewhat of a massive pop music geek!  Along with this I love to see artists perform live.  They just give the tracks their true emotion along with new interpretations.  But I also love to see how artists perform and interact on stage and with their fans.  I find it really inspirational.  Plus, the buzz you get from the whole event is just incredible.  Below are a list of artists I have seen live (I will update this list every time I seen an act):

  • Busted - A Ticket For Everyone (2004)
  • Good Charlotte (2007)
  • Sugababes - Change Album Launch Party (2007)
  • Sugababes - Change Tour (2008)
  • Girls Aloud - Tangled Up Tour (2008)
  • Fall Out Boy (2009)
  • Girls Aloud - Out Of Control Tour (2009)
  • Beyoncé - I Am... Tour (2009)
  • Britney Spears - The Circus Starring Britney Spears (2009)
  • P!nk - Funhouse Tour (2009)
  • La Roux (2009)
  • Rihanna - The Last Girl On Earth (2010)
  • Lady Gaga - The Monster Ball Tour (2010)
  • Greenday (2010)
  • Adam Lambert - Glam Nation Tour (2010)
  • Alexandra Burke - All Night Long Tour (2011)
  • Kylie Minogue - Les Folies Tour (2011)
  • Alexis Jordan - The Club Tour (2011)
  • Ke$ha - Get Sleazy Tour (2011)
  • Robyn - Body Talk Tour (2011)
  • Jessie J - Heartbeat Tour (2011)
  • Britney Spears - Femme Fatale Tour (2011)
  • Nicole Scherzinger - Killer Love Tour (2012)
  • Nicki Minaj - Pink Friday Tour (2012)
  • Roxette - Charm School - The World Tour (2012)
  • Darren Hayes - The Secret's Out Tour (2012)
  • Beyoncé - The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour (2013)
  • Rihanna - Diamonds World Tour (2013)
  • Katy Perry - The Prismatic World Tour (2014)
  • La Roux (2014)
  • Kylie Minogue - Kiss Me Once Tour (2014)
  • Christina Perri - Head Or Heart Tour (2014)
  • Lily Allen - Sheezus Tour (2014)
  • Queen + Adam Lambert Tour (2015)
  • Texas (2015)
  • Madonna - Rebel Heart Tour (2015)
  • Leona Lewis - I Am Tour (2016)
  • Adam Lambert - The Original High Tour (2016)
  • Kylie Minogue - Golden Tour (2018)
  • Jane McDonald - Christmas Show (2018)
  • P!nk - Beautiful Trauma World Tour (2019)

Below in alphabetical order are 10 albums that I feel have notably influenced my music tastes or have moved me in some way.  Whether that be the artist and era itself, or simply down to the lyrical and melodical content.  There will be more songs than whole albums, from different artists, though.

  • Angel with Dirty Faces - Sugababes
  • False Smiles - Amy Studt
  • I Am... - Beyoncé
  • I'm Not Dead - P!nk
  • Love. Angel. Music. Baby - Gwen Stefani
  • M!ssundaztood - P!nk
  • Ray of Light - Madonna
  • Rock Steady - No Doubt
  • Secret Codes and Battleships - Darren Hayes
  • Spice - Spice Girls

Friday, 7 August 2015

2014/2015 in summary

This last year has been one of my biggest yet.  I feel it's been a very challenging one intellectually, yet draining!  Here's what I have been up to since last year.  But work aside, I have had more great memories to look back on.  I've had more fun and frolics with trips and visits with friends and family and a fair few concerts again.  So here are some (but not all) highlights of my last year.


I can't believe it's been nearly a year since we got our first Level 3 apprentices back in August 2014.  Some are due to finish whilst some are progressing onto Level 4 with us.  I've reflected more on the first year; A Year of Digital Learning Design.

Graduated for my teaching

After two years doing the DTLLS, I finally graduated in November 2014.  It was a great day and quite emotional in some places.  Here's to the next graduation for my MSc, I'm very lucky to be having two!  My family put out a nice message in the local newspaper to congratulate me.

First year of MSc

Well it's been a roller coaster of emotions and feelings with this journey.  I captured the moments and emptied my head throughout here, here, here and here.  But as I'll mention further down, I seem to be growing more confidence in my knowledge which is really odd as I still don't consider myself intelligent.  Wrong of me I know! :-/  I've openly expressed and challenged many aspects of my practice and thinking but here are some posts I made:

Internal Verifier

I'm halfway through in qualifying to being an Internal Verifier.  I actually really like this role and duties involved.  I find it really interesting as it's all about maintaining and developing the quality of learning and teaching.  Which is another great interest of mine.  In future I hope I will be the lead Internal Verifier for our apprentices, but not only quality assuring but also dealing with the EQA visits.  Plus, I will continue to assess.


I have been a regular contributor to the ALT mailing list, but even more so recently.  I seem to be growing confidence in my knowledge of learning technology, so I have shared more about my practice as well as deeper thoughts.  Recently my thoughts had been captured and formed into an ALT newsletter.


Here are some events I attended:

  • Learning Technologies show, London.  In January me and the apprentices went to London for the day.  It was great to take the apprentices and show them the world of Learning Technologies and eLearning through the eyes of other businesses and enthusiasts.  We also helped man the Design Elearn stall.
  • Showcasing our Digital Learning Design apprenticeship to other Learning Technology managers and organisations.  It was a great day and eventually led to us having an off-site apprentice in York.
  • In less than a year, our company Elephant Learning Designs received; Winner: Elephant Learning Designs, Business Impact Award, Staff Star Awards 2015.  It was a great night of feeling proud and having a fun get together.
  • Digital Learning Design Regional Quality Meeting.  In June, I helped host the event with Ascentis to show good practice of work and assessment.  This was a very interesting meeting that informed the rest of my assessment planning and internal verifying decisions.
  • Technology Enabled Educators launch event.  In June I went to Manchester to see the launch of the qualification that I assisted in writing.  It was great to see the qualification finally be launched and see some example course content and activities.  I just hope I can deliver this soon.
  • White Rose Learning Technologists' forum.  I made a return to this group in July and was great to meet new Learning Technologists and for me to share experience and ideas about the Learning Technologist role and it's progression.


Well I'm still in planning process with the Level 4 Extended Diploma in Digital Learning Design.  But I do hope the Level 5 gets developed as I and the apprentices would like this to happen.  But getting the Level 3's finished off is the main priority right now.  Other than this, I have started my final year of the MSc, well the dissertation begins at least.

Finally and thoughtfully.  This is one of the most heartfelt expressions I have ever done: Conversation with my 15 year old self.