Blog Archive

I started a blog called Reluctant Technologist in 2008. There was a time I used to blog quite regularly both here and before that, in long forgotten places and this LSE blog. But no longer. Just keeping this here for my own occasional visit.

Writing Wikipedia

Last June I took part in LCC’s first Wikipedia Edit-a-thon and I’m now an active member of the College’s new Decolonising Wikipedia Network. Prior to this my wikipedia editing experience amounted to adding and removing the same word when facilitating web 2.0 workshops back in the noughties.

The network and last year’s edit-a-thon have involved LCC staff and students, including the LCC Changemakers and collaboration with WikimediaUK.

LCC’s Decolonising Wikipedia Network supports students and staff to become Wikipedia editors and creators in order to increase the visibility and credibility of under-represented and marginalised figures and topics

From: LCC Decolonising Wikipedia Network

Editing Brenda

For the edit-a-thon in June 2020 we were encouraged to find an existing page of a creative practitioner that needed improving. I was keen to find someone with an education angle. Finding a page was much harder than I thought. The people I found either had well-developed pages or no page at all. In the end I found Brenda Rawnsley. Not a person of colour but, as women are really poorly represented on Wikipedia, accounting for only 18% of biographical pages, the page fitted the overall aim of the project.

One reason to bring Wikipedia into educational settings is to help develop information and digital literacies. Wikipedia has three core content policies:

  1. Verifiability
  2. No original research
  3. Neutral point of view

Brenda Rawnsley’s page lacked citations and referrencing reliable sources is essential for the encyclopedia. I found obituaries in several newspapers as well as magazine articles about related art exhibitions. To my suprise our University library had a book on Rawnsley’s School Prints project but COVID-19 scupered my access to it! The catalogue’s Search Articles Plus option also found some recent magazine articles.

These before and after screenshots show how I was able to improve the inline citations.

Screenshot of May 2020 references - one reference.
Before: References (May 2020)
Screenshot of June 2020 references - twelve references.
After: References (June 2020)

I was aided by advice on how-to write women’s biographies from the Wikipedia Women in Red project and Wikipedia’s own detailed training modules.

Introducing Alvaro

I have just finished my first original page. In March I read an article in The Guardian about the black artists selected for The Helpworth Wakefield’s School Prints project 2021. A project inspired by Brenda Rawnsley’s original School Prints. One of the artists – Alvaro Barrington – didn’t have a Wikipedia page. He does now.

With two pages under my belt I’m looking forward to helping other member’s of LCC’s Decolonising Wikipedia Network develop and introduce further pages. I plan to do more too but may switch my focus to my own discipline of digital learning.


We’ve had excellent support from Wikimedia UK in getting the LCC Wikipedia activities off the ground. A keynote for our Academic Leaders Day in 2019 by Wikimedia UK Chief Exec, Lucy Crompton-Reid, was followed by a workshop co-facilitated by her colleague Richard Nevell and UAL Librarian Alexandra Duncan. But kudos to Lucy Panesar and the LCC Changemakers for really making this project a success as one of the college’s decolonisation projects.

Out in the Open

‘bridging knowledge to health’ paul bica (CC BY 2.0)

I feel exposed.

Early next year I’ll be one of several facilitators of Teaching Complexity, a free online seminar series run by my colleagues at UAL: Dave White, Head of Digital Learning & Bonnie Stewart, Visiting Fellow:

Through talks, discussion and other activities the seminars will explore how open and creative approaches to teaching and learning can help students navigate the complexity of higher education and the digital environment.


So why do I feel exposed?

As well as being delighted to be involved I feel somewhat nervous too, as I’m far from an expert in ‘open and creative approaches’. I’m fully signed up to openness of course but it’s just not a field or community that I’ve been heavily engaged with over the years.

I definitely wouldn’t be called on to run any of the main seminars for #teachcomUAL! Thankfully (for participants) it’s the digital fieldwork sessions I’ll be facilitating and I’m very much looking forward to planning those and assisting in some experimentation out-in-the-open.

UK TEL Innovations

The Heads of E-Learning Forum (HeLF) met at the University of Sheffield on 27 February. The theme of the Spring meeting was TEL Innovations and it included a visit to to two innovative spaces in the University of Sheffield’s Diamond Building: their Virtual Reality Suite and the iForge Makerspace.

The Diamond, University of Sheffield on Flickr

There were several short presentations and lots of networking opportunities as well as a panel discussion. In no particular order, some nuggets from the day:

  • AmIHired? – Andy Beggan introduced a great social media awareness tool from University of Lincoln. This simple tool is worth a look. It produces an online CV of your publicly available social media activity: tweets, Facebook profile, Instagram pics, YouTube likes etc. A great tool to get students thinking about what they share and how they are presenting themselves to the world including potential employers.
  • iForge is a student-run, engineering Makerspace at the University of Sheffield. Peter Mylon explained that iForge is run by a group of 25 students and is available to all students for extra curricular projects, to prototype ideas as well as working on academic coursework. Read about the iForge.

  • VLE Learning Analytics  – Phil Rothwell from LJMU explained how they are using Microsoft Power BI to extract data from their VLE to produce reports on usage of different tools. Power BI allows you to run reports without the need for much knowledge of computer programming. We have been doing something similar with Blackboard but via Tableau. It’s an area we hope to develop over the coming months , so Power BI will be worth a look.
  • Bluetooth Beacons – Brian Irwin from SHU showed how Bluetooth beacons have been used at their Institute of Arts. The beacons allow information to be highlighted to staff/students based on location. The beacon sends a signal to an App on your phone, allowing location-specific information to be flagged to students.
  • Nursing virtual reality simulations – At the University of Lincoln they are using a 360 camera to record scenarios in their clinical suites. The videos are available on YouTube but are primarily designed be watched on a VR headset by students taking on the role of patient in the clinical suites.
  • Loopd – although not demo’d the founder of Loopd, Jonny Driscoll, was a member of the discussion panel. I took a look and chatted with Jonny after the panel. He developed and launched Loopd following his frustration with traditional VLEs while studying as an undergraduate. It’s essentially a private social network. I’ve set one up to try out – just need someone to talk to… let me know if you want to join ( On a related note ALT published its Edtech Start Up guide earlier this month.

Image credit: Diamond, University of Sheffield on Flickr

This post was first published as UK TEL Innovations on the UWL Teaching Hub.


Learning & Teaching in a Digital Landscape

A presentation as part of a Seminar Series run by London South Bank University’s Centre for Research Informed Teaching.

Woman Using a Samsung VR Headset
Woman Using a Samsung VR Headset by Nan Palmero CC BY 2.0

I was really pleased to be asked to deliver this session at South Bank. Many thanks to LSBU’s Marc Griffith, Head of Digitally Enhanced Education for the invitation.

In the talk I asked participants to briefly look back to 2007 (the year the first iPhone was released) but mainly we concentrated on the current picture of the use of TEL in UK Higher Education.

Finally we looked ahead to four areas for the future. No futurology, all areas that are already established but likely to expand further in the coming years:

  1. Blended Learning
  2. Learning Analytics
  3. Virtual Reality
  4. Artificial Intelligence

My overview slides with various links are available: Learning & Teaching in a Digital Landscape.