Learning about Learning Analytics @ #Mozfest

If I find a moment, I’ll write about many of the fun and inspiring things I saw at Mozfest this weekend, but this post is about a single session I had the pleasure of hosting alongside Andrew, Doug and Simon; Learning Analytics for Good in the Age of Big Data. We had an hour, no idea if anyone else would be interested, or what angle people would come to the session from. And given that, I think it worked out pretty well. We had about 20 participants, and broke into four groups to talk about Learning Analytics from roughly 3 starting points (though all the discussions overlapped): Practical solutions to measuring learning as it happens online The ethical complications of tracking (even when you want to optimise for something positive – e.g. Learning) The research opportunities for publishing and connecting … Continue reading »

The immediate value of working in the open

I’m both excited and a tiny bit nervous about how “open” Mozilla are about the way they work. As I’m getting to know the Foundation, and the projects and priorities, and to make sense of what exactly I’ll be doing here I’ve been reading lots of Etherpads. If you don’t know what an Etherpad is, it’s a bit like a Google Doc (the ‘word doc’ variety) but less slick and more open. If you give someone a link to an Etherpad, the barrier to them contributing to the document is almost non-existent. Anyway, the value of this open working process somewhat blew my mind today. While lots of these docs have been useful in a general sense, today I read the documents from the initial planning around MoFo metrics that led to recruiting for my role (so it was pretty … Continue reading »

As ready as I’m going to be

Tomorrow is the first day in my new role at the Mozilla Foundation, and I’m getting the new job nerves and excitement now. Between wrapping up at WWF, preparing for Christmas, house hunting, and finishing off my next study assignment (a screenplay involving time-travel and a bus), I’ve been squeezing in a little bit of prep for the new job too. This post is basically a note about some of the things I’ve been looking at in the last couple of weeks. I thought it would be useful to jump through various bits of tech used in a number of MoFo projects, some of which I’d been wanting to play with anyway. This is not deep learning by any means, but it’s enough hands-on experience to speed up some things in the future. I setup a little node.js app locally … Continue reading »

Available hours in a year for personal projects

While planning ahead to finish my Open University studies, I’ve been testing how well I can study in my available free time; and my recent study with Coursera has provided a pretty good simulation. It’s important to be realistic with yourself about how much time you actually have to do these things, on a sustainable basis, for a significant period of time. Especially with the tuition fees being as expensive as they are and if you’re making a commitment for a whole year of your free time. My thinking has gone like this… First I account for my time being a husband and dad, then my working hours, then sleep, then a few hours for getting/keeping fit and I’m left with around two hours per day, or 14 hours a week of ‘free’ time. For a couple of weeks at … Continue reading »

Evening coding

With lots of interesting client work on at the moment, I’ve decided to spend some evening time moving along the next version of Done by When. This is nothing too stressful, but the project is getting really interesting now. I think I’m over the initial conceptual learning curve and now I’m making proper progress. Where the launch version of Done by When was primarily a working proof of concept, this next version is about attention to detail and responsiveness (that’s the speed of interactions as opposed to the adaptive layout stuff that’s already in place). I feel like I’m properly upgrading something when I’m spending as much time removing code as I am writing it new. More updates soon.

Specific thoughts on the @Coursera experience

First, I’d like to say a massive thank you. I really value the chance to study this excellent material at zero financial cost, and more importantly I love the opportunity you provide to people all around the world who don’t have the finances or the circumstances to otherwise consider such an education. I also know what it’s like to maintain and develop a complex online system while supporting active users, so this feedback is by no means an accusation of negligence. You will have thought about much of this already I’m sure, and if it’s already on a project roadmap somewhere then please excuse me. In short, this is not a letter from a grumpy customer; I just thought it may be useful to hear some specific feedback and ideas that could help with the online experience: When viewing and submitting … Continue reading »

On my next pet project and @Coursera

My most recent ‘pet project’, Done by When, grew up today. It’s 3 months to the day since I announced a vague plan to test out an idea that had been floating around my head, and now it’s out of beta, taking payments and I’ve just notice our Mandrill email reputation has crept up to ‘Excellent’. Woohoo. I’m delighted with where it’s going and all the helpful (positive and negative) feedback I’ve had from the first brave group of testers. I’ve added some screenshots to my portfolio on Behance, but the interface has progressed even further since then. Now that Done by When has a “business model” and all that, it will be given a serious amount of time and attention going forwards. But importantly, as it has an active user base I won’t be using it as a playground … Continue reading »