Edtech reflections on 2019

Wow! What a year 2019 has been! It's hard to believe that this time, last year, I was still working for the local adult learning service. I feel like I've been in my current role for much longer. This time, last year, I was desperately trying to learn Storyline 3, in preparation for starting my new job. Now, as I look back, I think I have learned so much more, both from a techie perspective and also as a designer.

Articulate 360 I have learned so much about this amazing suite, that I could probably fill a whole book! So what are the highlights? What have I learnt, that is more than I expected to learn? 
One of the most important things I have learned, is about compliance with assistive technologies. It's ironic that, as a Dragon user, I wasn't more aware of this before, but I tended to only use Dragon for speech-to-text. It was basically a dictation software for me, when writing assignments. I had also 'bumped into' JAWS, whilst studying for my Master's but…

Adobe Animate

Finding inspiration When I started playing with Illustrator, a few weeks ago, I saw the kind of amazing art work that could be created, but wasn't inspired enough to produce something beautiful and colourful. Instead, like many designers, I found inspiration in something that already existed... existed in a form that I think lacked function.

I really don't like the icon/symbol that represents disability - the wheelchair icon. It's technically a black line icon but what I see is a grey NHS wheelchair with big rubber wheels and casters, that is terribly heavy. So that inspired me to create new disability icons, that represent a different view of disability. I wanted my icons to represent capability and activity in a wheelchair... for the wheelchair to be a positive symbol, rather than a symbol of pity.

And so, you may remember, I created this...

Connections Of course, even though the current wheelchair icon doesn't actually look like a real wheelchair, we see it as one, …

For anyone who's ever wondered what's inside a computer

The inside of a computer is really interesting! It's like being able to open up a brain and see how it all connects together and how it links to the other organs in the body. You don't need to know it but it's interesting and sometimes rather handy to understand how it works (at a basic level, at least).


I love looking at the motherboard. It's full of little tiny parts, chips, places to plug things in, and bits that stick out through the case of the computer. Over time, they have changed a fair bit but they still do the same job.

When you look at the back of a computer, you can see lots of places where you can plug things in: USBs, printers, headphones, etc. Most of these are on the motherboard and connect to other parts inside.
Central processing unit (CPU)
This is sometimes just called the processor. It's now a tiny component but it has a very important job. It's what makes the whole thing work. Because it does such a big job, it could get quite hot…

The life cycle of a computer

If you own or have ever owned a desktop computer or a laptop, it's likely that you will be familiar with this life cycle. Let me illustrate it with some personal history...

1995 - Bought our first PC from Time Computers. It cost around £1000 and had about 4mb of storage (or something unreasonably small)

1998ish - Computers had moved on at such a pace that new software wasn't compatible and we were running out of storage. Decided to start again and buy a new computer, costing about £1200. Decided to go for the best spec we could afford, so that it would last longer than three years. Think it was a Tiny computer.

2000ish - How can computer technology move so fast?!! High spec Tiny is now virtually obsolete. Need to start again. Bought a Dell PC. Fortunately, prices are beginning to come down, so got a reasonable spec for £900. New PC also promises to be upgradable, so ending this cycle of buying a new one every three years.

2002ish - PC getting a bit sluggish and laptops are now pop…

Adobe Illustrator

If you've been following my blog, you'll already know that I recently acquired Adobe Creative Cloud. I'll be honest, even the name 'Illustrator' turned me right off. I am notoriously bad at art. Many years ago, when I was a childminder, I would draw basic shapes - stick men, house, tree - and small children would screw their faces up, look utterly baffled and exclaim, "What is it?"

Illustrating is never going to be my forte! I'm not being negative. I just can't draw, or paint, or do many things that are arty farty.

What I can do, is use a computer and learn to use new software. So I decided to find out whether Illustrator could maybe bridge the gap for me... give me some artistic skills that are otherwise lacking. And I was pleasantly surprised!

The first surprise was that, for the first time in my life, I found myself enjoying art. My last art lesson (at age 13) was marked by the teacher, who may have been a trifle drunk (this was the 1980s) thro…

Adobe Lightroom

A couple of weeks ago, I signed up for a year of Adobe Creative Cloud. I'd been looking at it for a while, as a professional development activity, but the price had put me off. Then a special offer came along, which made it a wee bit more affordable, so I splashed out!

It comes with more than twenty apps, which is more than I can process in one go, so I decided I would start with Photoshop and Illustrator. I watched dozens of the online video tutorials, which were a great introduction to Photoshop. I haven't really touched Illustrator yet, though I will be doing. What I have discovered, which I really like, is Lightroom.
Lightroom stood out because, as well as the app, there is a web version of it, so I can use it wherever I happen to be. It will take a while of playing with the different sliders to know what works best, but it certainly helps solve one of my main photography problems.
I have a black dog. Black dogs are a pain in the backside to get good photos of. To make it …

Theories and models - ADDIE

There was a moment, just one moment, during my Master's study, when I encountered something that was alien to me at the time. It wasn't just something new... there was lots of new learning. It was a concept that I'd not encountered before. It was storyboarding. I thought that was something that was associated with video production. Even having worked across different educational sectors, I had never heard of it in connection with learning.

This should have been my first clue that education and instructional design, though both about learning and development, are two completely different worlds. My next clue was that, in spite of having over 20 years' experience in education, I was seen as having no experience in learning and development. I found this baffling, as I thought they must surely have the same underpinning skills.

In education, there are many theories about how people - children and adults - learn, and why they sometimes fail to learn. Throughout my Master…