Tuesday, November 10, 2009

dear family...

I've been meaning to write this one for so long that I almost can't write it anymore. I lie awake at night going over and over what I want to say. I think my recent reading of the new book 'Children and teenagers with aspergers:the journey of parenting from birth to teens' has really made me re-focus on my need to do this.

It presents real experiences of a range of families, all who recount the immense struggle of being a parent to a child or young person with a diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome. Why is it important to read this book?

Well I think it is very easy to fall into the trap of only presenting the best of our children to the world. I am guilty of this because I want people to see his gifts and his strengths, his beauty and his unusual window on the world. I want people to love him enough to help protect him from the harsh cruelties that exist in our society for anyone who presents in a non-neurotypical way. If you don't know what I mean then go back a couple of years in this blog - you'll soon get the picture.

In fact the stories in this book also present a catalogue of failures from the various professional systems that are meant to support our children's wellbeing, health and education. But these stories also recount some of the huge difficulties that present a parent of someone on the autistic spectrum. Of course no one person with a diagnosis of AS will present in the same way as another. What is really evident from the stories are the number of times people deny that there could be anything 'wrong' with these young people other than bad parenting, lack of discipline and the old favourite 'not enough boundaries'. Anyone who has had to engage at any level with any of the support services that are supposed to help us will have had these accusations many times.

Many of us don't have to look further than our own families and friends to experience these accusations. At least three people in our very immediate families do not believe that our son has AS. They find it difficult to see how such a very bright child could not be anything other than manipulative and oppositional.

What is really distressing about this is the absolute denial of our whole life (because having AS in the family does affect your whole life). So these people have no concept of what our daily lives are really like. They only see us when we have made significant planning efforts and taken damage limitation actions to reduce situations that will trigger autistic meltdowns. If they do witness one due to uncontrollable circumstances such as sensory overload, verbal ambiguity or a myriad of other triggers they label it as a tantrum.

I remember my son cowering in the corner of a corridoor surrounded by family members talking really loudly. He was very distressed and covering his head due to sensory overload but couldn't get away because none of the would move. When I tried to explain and asked them to move a close family member said ' oh he's just having another tantrum'. This enraged me. Why can't you bring yourself to believe me/us. I have reached the point now where I feel like saying 'OK - well you take your small and narrow minds elsewhere - we haven't got the energy to deal with you'

I'll go away and focus on the things that really need my energy, such as when my son can't sleep because he thinks about death all the time, or when he is self harming because he hates himself and what he does so much, or when he can't control the meltdowns and becomes abusive or violent. You don't see all this and you don't help...

And that hurts quite alot.

To go back to the reason for this post - it is not easy to say those things about my wonderful son. I do sometimes feel incredibly lonely, tired and helpless. But if I spend my life hiding them then I am denying our lives in a similar way that you do. Well excuse me - but this is our life...

Get used to it or clear off...

A recent BBC documentary also highlights these issues and include a couple of families with children with autism who display violent responses - available to watch for a limited time only 'When a mother's love is not enough'. It looks at how easy it is to lose control and harm the child you love, through exhaustion, sheer loneliness and frustration. It also highlights the ridiculous and failing support system that the state offers to parents of disabled children.

Monday, November 02, 2009

do educational institutions have a future?

This is a post about one of the sessions in the JISC Innovating Learning 2009 Online Conference.

We wanted to have a session which stimulated discussion around some of the technological, social and organisational issues that are likely to affect the future learner, teacher and institutions. So we found three people to help us with this task. Martin Weller, Graham Attwell and Rob Howe have each taken on the task of producing a short video to offer us a selection of possible futures. do educational institutions have a future?

Martin has looked at this from the angle of the academic/scholar and engaged in a conversation with some of his future selves. I wont spoil the pleasure of watching it by describing any more but the beardyness seems to have caught a few people's imagination. Some people have also responded to his blog post and video by making their own 'conversation with a future self'. This could be catching - I will try to list these at the foot of this blog post in an attempt to pull them together.

Rob Howe has offered us a range of futures through the eyes of four learners and more beards... Personally I really love the last one with the TRIPE invention which involves tingling brains and Tesco's. He also links us to the JISC funded Learner Experience work too...

Graham Attwell offers two starkly contrasting visions of how institutions will cope with the various economic, polictical and technological drivers. From the abolition of JISC and courses costing 20k a year to a federated open innovation approach. Personally I love the 'aesthetics of bots sport' course.

John Traxler Director of the Learning Lab and Professor of Mobile Learning at the University of Wolverhamptonfrom will be facilitating the discussion during the conference who brings a wealth of experience as both an online and face to face facilitator.

I look forward to the discussion around this session and would encourage people to register with the conference to ensure that you don't miss it.

In fact we will be offering free spaces to the best three responses tagged with jiscel09 so get your beards ready and show us your future vision...

Inspired by the videos Grainne Conole has set up a very popular cloud on the OU Cloudworks site.

See also
Alan Cann, Leicester University
Very apt Halloween special vision of the future

Gill Clough, Open University
Interview with future self envisions a pink future; )

Short film for CLT's 2009 away-day. Asked to imagine the state of e-learning in the year 2020... Devised by and starring Jane Secker, Steve Bond & Athina Chatzigavriil

Innovating e-Learning 2009

Innovating e-Learning 2009 - Thriving, not just surviving

Innovating e-Learning 2009, the fourth JISC online conference, takes place on 24-27 November 2009.

Now a major event in the calendar of conferences on learning, teaching and technology, Innovating e-Learning focuses this year on the theme of Thriving, not just Surviving. The programme reflects the challenges facing further and higher education institutions in the 21st century and features leading thinkers, broadcasters and academics, such as Charles Leadbeater, Nigel Paine, Helen Beetham, Rhona Sharpe (Oxford Brookes University), Peter Bradwell, (Demos).

The 2009 conference has two themes:
Finding the way, which focuses on focuses on exploring guiding principles for technology-enhanced learning and teaching, and
Meeting the challenge, which explores the integration of technology-mediated practice under specific agendas such as meeting the needs of employers, developing sustainable and external-facing strategies for curriculum development and engaging stakeholders in the design of learning spaces.

Delegates from the UK meet in the asynchronous conference environment with colleagues from overseas, making this a particularly vibrant and accessible way to attend a conference. Last year’s delegate list topped 400 and included representatives from 14 countries.

New this year is the Have-a- Go area, where delegates can try out innovative new technologies demonstrated by JISC services, projects and other agencies. Representatives from the JISC RSCs are set to provide guided tours in Second Life, and James Clay (Gloucestershire College) returns by popular demand to take up the role of conference blogger.

Innovating e-Learning 2009 takes place in an asynchronous virtual environment which can be accessed at a time and place that suits you. The keynotes, however, are delivered live in Elluminate, a collaborative web conferencing platform.

For booking and further information, visit www.jisc.ac.uk/elpconference09

Delegate fee: £50 per delegate

word press madness

I've been having a go with wordpress as an alternative blogging mechanism and have transferred the wedding photography blog to one which uses a photo blogging template.


I'm also working on some other sites as I've just bought a few domain names. I'll post these soon. Most exciting too is a new portrait photography website as we've decided to move into that area of work too. It's in devenlopment - haven't even got the price list in yet...


Here is one of my current favourites of the boy...

Monday, July 13, 2009

playing with prezi

I've been waiting for an opportunity to have a go at using prezi - the zooming presentation software. As far back as 2003 I was experimenting with using concept mapping software to do presentations... but the software wasn't developed for that purpose and it was rather challenging although usually well received because it was different.

I recently had the opportunity to use prezi for the first time in front of an audience at the JISC Learning & Teaching Practice Experts meeting where we were presenting some of the findings from the LLiDA (Learning Literacies for the Digital Age) study. My session was to present a case study of good institutional policy and strategy for learning literacies. These are still very rare but the Glasgow Caledonian University has done some really interesting work with their i-Learn project - an Independent Learning Framework for the whole University.

from prezi.com

the presentation is available at http://prezi.com/122745/
I did put one picture into the presentation. It was one of my faves of the Saltire Centre at Glasgow Caledonian University.

My thoughts on using this application are as follows:

  • offers a non linear approach but allows you to create pathways through the content
  • allows you to present the whole picture in a fairly visual form and then zoom in as required
  • fairly limited in choice of colours and styles at present (really hoping they will be adding some)
  • relies on a good internet connection for presentation unless you purchase the desktop version (which I did - and had to use on the day)
  • allows you to incorporate a good range of file types so not limited to lists and bullet points
  • can be shared as an editable resource of limited to owner (I limited this as need it to be correct for a presentation but could see some educational for developing collaborative stuff
  • generally the audience liked the wow factor and the difference
  • not sure how accessible it is yet?
  • I will use it again as I've invested about £100 for it.
  • it's a bit faffy to get stuff placed properly and it helps to have a big screen
  • I made it on a wide screen laptop and the display didn't work properly (although could have been the ancient projector

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Engaging Learning with Social Software

I have been working for Oxford Brookes University on their online course Engaging Learning with Social Software. I have been a co-tutor with Patsy Clarke and the course is coming to an end. I want to give some feedback to the particpants so decided to use my blog - which seems only fair as one of the activities in the course was an option to set up their own blogs.

The supporting text fro the course was Mason, R and Rennie, F (2008). E-Learning and Social Networking Handbook - Resources for Higher Education. (Routledge). Sadly Robin Mason died recently and will be much missed.

The first two weeks of the course provided an opportunity for participants to try out some suggested applications - including bloggng tools, flickr, twitter, Diigo, Delicious. The course content was provided through the closed VLE which did raise some real challenges for course tutors and partcipants. One advantage of using the VLE is that it brings (and keeps) everything together - course content, discussions and links out to other sources. We used a tag of elss0609 to try to pull things together but this does rely on everyone understanding the nature of tagging.

Several students found it really difficult to keep track of other students activities and it was challenging being a tutor on this course. We introduced them to some mechanisms for bringing disparate stuff together such as netvibes and pageflakes.

We discussed many issues around identify, ownership and control of technologies, managing leaning in a ditributed environment, immersion and saturation. Course particpants were considering how these tools could help their own social and professional networking as well as how the tools could be used in an educational context.

The above slides provide a summary of the issues that arose during the first two weeks.

The second two weeks provided an opportunity for particpants to work collaboratively using sharing software of their choice:
Googlegroups was a poular choice for this. We built the activity around recent evidence from two recent JISC funded studies:
  • Learners' Experiences of e-Learning which has just completed its second phase and reports on findings based on research among HE and FE students in the UK
  • Learning Literacies for a Digital Age (LLiDA) of students has been looking into what practices support students to learn effectively in a digital age. The report examines current institutional practice to support and develop a range of learner skills/capabilities , including technical/tool literacies, information and media literacies, academic and learning literacies.
The group activity involved designing a learning activity to support learning literacies of their students. These activtives are clearly more about the process than the end product and the particpants experienced the usual difficulties of trying to work across time zones with people they don't know in any other context.

I enjoyed being a tutor on this course - and would recommend it for people who want the space to engage with different social software and the opportunity to reflect on this and discuss with peers. Particpants on the online courses often struggle to manage their time and can find things a bit overwhelming - but the value of experiencing life as a student for a while is always evident. They often say that they really understand the importance of clear guidelines and instructions, good tutor support and the benefit of working with peers.

Another great outcome is the new social network that people establish and another , for some, is a new professional activity of blogging and micro blogging. I look forward to seeing you on twitter, blogger and flickr... Great working with Patsy too...

One more important thing - I always learn a lot every time I tutor on one of these courses as the particpants are very engaging and knowledgable. Thanks to you for sharing your thoughts and reflections.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

postcard from poland

Twice a year we usually have to deal with our son getting very upset and having a week or so of sadness, crying and inability to sleep. This is because on his birthday and at christmas his dad sends him a parcel and a letter.

He is torn because, of course, he is really really pleased that his dad still remembers to do this but he is also gutted that his dad apparently doesn't want to engage with him on a regular basis. His dad tells him of all his wonderful travels but all his son sees is that he never comes to see him or offers to take him with him.

We have tried to get his dad to communicate with his son directly by phone, email, letter or, even better, with visits both to us and to him. His father has refused to communicate with me for about 6 years now (which does make things difficult). I have tried emails, letters and even using solicitors to help establish an ongoing relationship with his son. He must still want one in some way as he sends these warm letters twice a year.

After the christmas parcel last year L tried to send him an email with some recent pictures but his dad's work email no longer worked. Presuming that he's moved jobs I was unable to find another email so L sent him a letter telling him his new email address and asked his dad to send him emails. I was hoping that this may be a start to developing enough of a relationship to start visits between them as there would need to be hardly any communication with me.

He would check his email every day to see if his dad had responded. Not a sausage...

Then yesterday - out of the blue - L got a postcard from Poland from his dad.

well thanks a lot mate - L spend most of yesterday in tears and will be upset for several days. He was talking to one of his twitter pals and told them he was having a bad day. When he told her why she said "well at least he has sent something" and L said "I'd rather he didn't".

He doesn't mean that though - he really wants to see his dad.

It is such a shame. I think it's to do with pride and intransigence and maybe even intending to hurt me. I just want to somehow tell him what he is missing by not spending time with this fantastic boy. His dad could teach him so much and as a scientist would really be able to inspire him. He could learn alot from his son too who is so loving.

Of course he also misses all the difficult bits, which his stepdad deals with. Like today.

Well his step dad has taken him out to play football in the park to try to cheer him up. His dad is missing that too!

I hope his dad might read this and understand that his son (deep down) really needs to see him. I also worry that one day he will meet his dad and he will say I stopped him seeing him. But I have a box full of evidence of my attempts to encourage regular contact. A parcel twice a year and a monthly payment into my bank account does not really cut it dad...

Monday, June 22, 2009

standing on the shoulders of giants...

This image is called 'Standing on the shoulders of Giants'. It is my son on the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland but it is accompanying this blog post because of the title and in acknowledgement of how much I have learned from two of my friends and colleagues.

I have waited years for an opportunity to articulate my thoughts on learning literacies in a way that may be heard.

As a librarian in the education field I have always been concerned with information literacy. What used to really drive me potty in the Higher Education institutions I worked in were the barriers I had to break down to get academic teams to engage with this and see it as crucial for their students (whether undergraduates or postgraduates).

I had the occasional coup and got invited onto some course planning meetings to discuss the potential for integrating information literacy within the curricula. The needs of Distance Learning Students was always a useful way in to these discussions. So was broadening the defintion of information literacy (seen by many academic colleagues as being library literacy - how to use the catalogue!) to include plagiarism, critical literacy and digital literacy. I tried to get people to use the term Learning Literacies as a way of not thinking in narror terms... often a lone voice with little or no impact... I eventually moved into elearning work but was still concerned with working towards embedding learning literacies within the curricula.

I was really pleased to recently join two brilliant colleagues to undertake a study into learning literacies for JISC - Helen Beetham and Allison Littlejohn. The intellectual rigour and research experience that they brought to the study was fantastic and I found it a great learning experience. The study has just been completed and is available to download as a pdf document. It is fairly extensive so we have also produced an Executive summary.

We have also presented the report on our project wiki which includes the tools and some best practice snapshots.

The study examined the following issues:

  • What skills and aptitudes we should be focusing on (current frameworks for learning literacies)
  • How these requirements may be changing due to new demands and opportunities
  • What provision is currently being made at a snapshot of UK HE and FE institutions
  • What examples of excellent practice we can identify which point the way towards better provision and more effective learner support
I really enjoyed working with Helen and Allison - the study certainly offered value for money with a series of institutional audits and snapshots of best practice to augment the desk based research.

The report includes some general recommendations as listed below (these recommendations are expanded on in the report....). There are also recommendations around institutional provision and some specific recommendations for JISC.

But look at number 2 and 5 - and it's not just me saying it....

1.Tutors need to be proactive in helping learners to develop learning and digital literacies

2. Learning and digital literacies need to be embedded into the curriculum

3. Learners need to be engaged in their own development

4. Academic staff need to be engaged in rethinking their own knowledge practices

5. Information literacy needs to be broadened to include – or needs to be supplemented with - communication and media literacies

6. Employability needs to be more carefully and critically defined

I hope you enjoy reading the report - do get back to us if you have any queries or comments.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

new blog launched

I've decided to keep a separate wedding photography blog so that any potential clients don't have to wade through lots of other stuff.

Go and take a look...


This now means I have 4 websites and 2 blogs to maintain - perhaps I need to simplify my life; ))

I have recently revamped my websites. I have changed them around so that the wedding photography site is now a non-flash site which is more friendly for search engines. It has also gone from a black to white background which apparently brides prefer (so says someone in a SWPP (Society of Wedding & Portrait Photographers) forum.

Wedding photography website:

Art photography website:

Fora anyone interested in the educational consultancy work and wants to see the CV then I'm at www.loumcgill.co.uk

Thursday, April 09, 2009

for moira

"Now wakes the hour,
Now sleeps the swan
Behold the dream
The dream is gone”
Pink Floyd

way back in may I was writing a blog post and mentioned that a woman's body had been found in our park - Queens Park in Glasgow. It's a fantastic park and is used in many ways by many people, but it is hard to go there anymore or drive past it without thinking about moira jones.

Moira suffered a terrible attack and died at the hands of a drunken violent man - it's been written about enough - but we need to remember her for her life, her family and for all women who are vulnerable to such behaviour. For any woman, whether or not she has endured violence, it is sickening to read of the pain and terror she suffered.

I feel for her family and her friends, and her partner whose last moments with her involved a row (according to the press). I also feel for those people who heard or witnessed something but never did anything about it. It guts me to think about this but I do understand - our society does not really support any other kind of behaviour.

Once when I was 18 I was being beaten on a busy street on christmas eve by my boyfirend who had been drinking all day - no one helped - no one did anything - so it goes it seems.

this is not OK - if you ever hear a person in distress you must try to help in some way - not to put yourself in danger but at least try to do something. And I say person because it is not just women that suffer abuse like this. I am trying really hard not to go into a rant...

feel like a small voice today but just wanted to say sorry to moira - sorry that no one could help... sorry that so many people were so close but couldn't hear

todays photo is from queens park and is called 'the dream is gone'

Friday, March 27, 2009

good intentions

I attended the Intrallect conference in Edinburgh yesterday - Open Educational Repositories – Share, Improve, Reuse. It was a two day conference but unfortunately I was unable to attend the first day.

I delivered the keynote presentation on the research study report Good ntentions:improving the evidence base in support of sharing learning materials and later ran a Workshop on open educational resources (OERs) with my friend and colleague Sarah Currier. I had a great day and the buzz throughout the day was great.

I welcomed the opportunity to talk about the Good intentions study as it was released just before the Christmas holidays and didn't have a very high profile. The outcomes of the study were a report and a series of business cases and I've discussed it before in a previous 'sharings' post. The presentation slides are on slideshare and is also available on the intrallect website.

On April 1st this slideshow was featured as a spotlight on the Education page!

It was the first time we had the opportunity to present the study to others (apart from delivering the report to JISC and our group of eminent critical friends) although it was included in the references list of the recent JISC OER call.

It generally received a very positive reaction and the business cases (presented in a series of tables) were noted as potentially very useful. In fact it has been my intention to develop these tables into a usable tool for institutions and managers of repositories to use to help identify which models of sharing (both formal and informal) are most approrpriate - depending on which benefits they hope to achieve. Whilst the tables can be used to do this a user firendly tool could really make this information more accessible. I hope to talk to JISC further about this.

One of the slides identifies our approach to developing the business cases and highlights why we think they are useful to a range of stakeholders - they could:
  • be a mechanism to help people decide which business model/s to adopt as appropriate
  • offer a process to automatically generate a context specific business case to support funding requests
  • encourage an approach which starts with the needs (required benefits) not a preferred model
  • emphasize that no one model fits all and often a combination of models may be appropriate depending on the context
  • help to prioritise benefits and recognise that by making some business model choices certain benefits are more difficult to achieve
  • support a dialogue within institutions by identifying what benefits the institution and wider community already enjoy from existing sharing activities
One of the areas we focussed on in the study was Open Educational Resources (oers) and in the workshop session later in the day several people highlighted their need to encourage academics to share and consider opening up their learning resources. During the discussion we agreed that giving people a choice in how open they wanted to be (ie who they feel comfortable sharing with) was key to encouraging sharing. This was reflected in the research study by several of the models we looked at. It was also suggested by one of the delegates that if we changed the word 'share' to 'publish' that academics may be less reluctant to deposit content in repositories. We also talked about letting students have access to repositories, trying to consider how we can make our contant available in their spaces, and the inportance of services to support and enhance teaching practice through Communities of Practice (CoP) approaches.

Great discussions - thanks to all for your input on the day. The photo to accompany this post is a polaroid shot of a picnic which we shared at a flickr meetup...

digital literacy

Why do I really dislike the term 'digital literacy'.

Part of it is due to history - we've been through a whole range of terminology starting with the change of library and information skills and computer skills to information literacy and computer literacy. Whilst these new terms broadened the landscape and tried to articulate that both of these areas were not just about skills with tools but about transferable skills and deeper conceptual learning. We also had (often not connected to these terms) the whole range of academic/study and research literacies which were the province of a whole different group of people- academics.

Then we tried the term 'e-literacy' which seemed fairly sensible considering the increased use of the term e-learning. None of the current debates seem to mention this term - is it due to embarassment now? Many of the people who contributed to the debates around e-literacy (which were just as passionate and covered the same stuff - different tools maybe but the literacies were the same - how to make best use of electronic tools and communication mechanism in life, work and learning) came from the computer and information literacy fields and gradually started involving more academics. Are the people involved in the current debate from different groups - learning technologists and educational developers? Is that why we seem to not be acknowledging the work from the past on this?

I always has a BIG problem with the term e-literacy because of the focus on the 'e' and for I dislike the term digital literacy for the emphasis on the 'digital'. I feel that the use of these terms can result in people focussing on the technologies. This can mean that people concentrate on the skills to use these and not the underlying drivers, approaches and mechanisms needed to support development of the various competencies that make up these literacies. The Dearing Report and the whole govt focus on the skills agenda also impacts on this. Hence my concerns - if the govt drivers shape the institutional drivers and the focus is employability then what happens to the need to enhance the capacity of student to learn in a broad sense - to become lifelong learners. The term literacy in itself has always been contentious too and is hated by many. I prefer it to skills for that breadth that it offers us.

These terms are broad descriptions of a range of different literacies - some of which are important in life, some in learning and some in a work/professional context (and many which cross all three). Here is a link to a mind map which looks at some of these.

We have spent a huge amount of time with these definitions and if a government or European body takes up on one and produces a definition we are often led by this.

I am torn about the current digital literacy 'flavour of the month' terminology. It has caught on beyond the educational sector and is referred to in UK govt, documents so at least I should be pleased that it is actually on the agenda in a big way. It gives many of us who have been working in this area (on the outside or in silos) a chance to finally use this to highlight our work and our efforts within institutions. However the latest announcement about changing the primary school curriculum again focuses on tools that may not even be used in 5 years time! I rest my case...

I guess I'm just a bit jaded by terminology debates.

institution-wide strategies and frameworks
What I think is actually more important and does deserve our time and energy is that we look at those component literacies/skills/competencies and think about how we, as educators and as educational instituions, can support learners to develop these to interact, learn, contribute and enhance their lives. At the moment provision from educational institutions is still piecemeal, and many institutions would find it challenging to articulate how they support all of these literacies, but a few HE institutions are starting to take an institution-wide view and are developing their own frameworks. Halleluyah!!!!

Lots more to come about this in the new LLiDA (Learning Literacies for the Digital Age) report - coming very soon!

Big rant over - will be joining digilit debate later today - so likely to come back to this post later. also need to add in refs to support my outragous pontifications too...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ada Lovelace Day

Ada Lovelace Day is an international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology.

Wordle: adalovelaceday

I work with loads of fabulous women who contribute to the world in many ways (including the technological disciplines) All of these women are highly multi-talented and not only defined by their contributions to technology. But today is an opportunity to celebrate them all. I made a wordle to highlight some of those I work with or admire.

I have to highlight one woman and so am picking Lorna Campbell from JISC CETIS because her contribution to educational technology is unquestionable. Her gentle but authoritative approach is admirable and her power is always evident. She never pushes herself forward and I think it is time for us to acknowledge the great contribution she makes to JISC development teams, programmes and projects.

I also really admire her fabulous brain, her humanity and sense of humour, her choice in films and music, and her uncanny ability to turn grown techies to mush...

with deep respect Lorna - Happy Ada Lovelace Day....

Sunday, February 22, 2009


I have started a wedding photography business - one of the most intense jobs you could try to do. The day is so important for the couple that you could really muck up if you failed to deliver. I am being very cautious about who I accept as clients though and am making sure that I feel I can deliver what they need. I focus on a 'reportage' style which aims to capture the story of the day and ends up with less than the usual forced poses and smiles.

There are so many great things about capturing a wedding day and I get such a massive buzz from doing it. You could say you are on a winner if you look at it really positively:

  • most people at a wedding are feeling happy and your job is to capture this
  • couples are usually 'in love' and therefore shine with this
  • often clients become friends because they like your photography and your photography reflects you and the way you respond to them
  • the competition don''t always reflect such a committed attitude or such high quality
  • you can offer an alternative or different style
on the other hand
  • it is a highly competative business and some established companies have excellent services
  • the recession could have a very negative impact on a fledgling business
I have had some great feedback already and have got more bookings from some of my early weddings. My wedding books have been very successful and have already brought new clients to my door. The beauty of this is that they can already see the kind of approach, styles and outputs that you offer.

I have a wedding website called ithadtobeyou and I have a couple of books to view as well. One of the things I like about my website is the noir section where this photo is included. Other galleries include 'stylish' 'elegant' 'romantic' 'intimate' 'vintage' and another favourite 'lomo' where I include the toy camera wedding photos....

I like working for clients who are open to a range of photography and processing styles. I have also managed to get my partner to work with me as a second photographer which makes a great difference. I do all the front of house engaging work and all the photo processing, but to have two people recording the day is invaluable.

This is what one of my favourite couples said,,,

'Well, for us, it just had to be Lou and Tim!

Our wedding was the happiest day of our lives, and we feel so lucky that Lou and Tim were there to record it. In fact, they were as much a part of the day as any of our guests. The sheer style and outstanding quality of their work speaks for itself. What may not be apparent from the photographs, but which was every bit as important to us, was the care and individual attention bestowed on us before, during and after our wedding day. Their work surpassed our expectations in every respect, and we have an album of wonderful images to cherish along with our memories.'

Monday, February 02, 2009


"The road to hell is paved with good intentions...."

Samuel Johnson

This quotation was used to open the report Good intentions: improving the evidence base in support of sharing learning materials submitted to JISC in late December 2008 by myelf, Sarah Currier, Charles Duncan and Peter Douglas. The report offers an historical view of sharing learning materials in the UK, a description of existing business models to support sharing and a discussion around two focus areas in particular - open sharing and subject-based sharing. The accompanying business case tables could be ustilised/developed into a practical tool to help institutions consider existing sharing (and the benefits this brings) as well as providing an opportunity to consider the benefits they hope to achieve and which sharing approaches may be most appropriate for their institution.

The opening quotation aims to reflect the fact that there is a long history of significant work to encourage sharing. The vision has been around for some time - we always had good intentions - even though we didn't always get it right. Many of the early models to support sharing of learning resources are currently being revised due to lessons learned and a significantly changing landscape. The report concludes that some of these emerging models can support the kinds of benefits that we have always hoped sharing would bring. The potentials offered by open educational resources and social software for Communities of Practice to share practice and materials is significant but there is still a place for more formal managed repositories too.

Of course there are still significant issues around whether academics want to share learning resources - although there seems to be no disinclination to share practice. What is clear is that funders and institutions continue to desire such sharing, not least to reduce duplication, and encourage use of publicly funded resources. Incentives and reward emerge as significant issues, as does an understanding of the likely benefits to learners, teachers, institutions and the wider community.

The timing of the report's release was less than ideal as Christmas holidays quickly followed, but it has been referred to in the recent JISC call around open content. I would be interested if you have any feedback on the report and possible potential of the business case tables.

The image to accompany this post is actually called 'heaven' and is a triple exposure hogla shot on 120 film. It offers a positive future vision for sharing.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

home learnings

we are now really immersed in the home learning and are trying a new routine where each day we do one hour of intense one to one work followed by one hour of self-directed learning. The rest of the time tends to be flexible and of course home learning happens all the time wherever we happen to be.

On this blog I hope to engage with some of the common questions that arise whenever we tell people that we do home learning. These will not be knew to anyone who does this. Every taxi driver in Glasgow has an opinion, as does every family member, shop assistant, and health care professional.

It's almost as if choosing to opt out is a slur on their choice not to. We got harangued by a taxi driver yesterday for being different and opting out - can't say I always deal well with this yet so we just adopted a perky 'we're happy with our decision' response. Was tempted to garotte him from behind as he spouted, ranted and shouted (which was really not OK for Laurie) but decided it was best to make sure we actually arrived at out destination...

what really annoys me though i that I'm so well conditioned that I still gave him a good tip - doh!!! get a grip girl - maybe next time.

One of the key questions that people ask is 'what do you do about socialisation'. Of course this question stems from the basic misconception that sitting in a classroom with 30 other people of the same age, surviving the chaos of the dining room, the harsh playground and the enforced collaborative learning activities all result in positive social experiences. Well I do admit it can teach you deal with negative social experiences and may sometimes be positive.

Laurie may have an ASD but like many kids with Aspergers he craves connection with other children. Our solution is to connect to other families that home educate. I am a member of several forums that share information
HE Special
Education Otherwise

The Scottish group - Schoolhouse has a very active mailing list and the level of sharing and information exchange and support is amazing (as is the HE special group - vital for anyone with a child with different wiring). From the Scottish those who live in Glasgow have started regular group meetings and activities. We have a two hour sport session at Kelvin Sports Hall on Mondays and a two hour activity session in Hyndland on Thursdays. We have also been on several museum visits and workhops and we're off to a castle next wednesday.

Laurie is loving it (although we often pay for it later as it does overtimulate him dramatically). Sometimes we have to cancel all activities the day after as he recovers, but the best thing is that he has a new best friend. They talk endlessly about star wars and play football together.

So there we are - question number one dealt with - are you happy now people? Or are you still really a bit bothered at our radical decision...

how dare we dare to be different...