Time for a BOOC or mOOC

Time for a BOOC or a mOOC?

Is it time for the MOOC concept to expand…downwards? Apple brought out the iPad and then the iPad mini. Is there a potential market for BOOCs (Boutique Open Online Courses) or mOOCs (Mini/Micro Open Online Courses). These could be hosted in the existing LMS (Learning Management Systems – e.g. Blackboard or MOODLE) within institutions providing a familiar toolset for teaching staff to use.

Student enrollments could be limited to a set number and once a course is full, incoming students would just have to wait until the course is run again. Why is there a current obcession around big numbers?

If an academic wishes to share their subject expertise with the world, and they can do it outside of their day to day duties where they work, this should be encouraged by institutions.

Sweat into shape – DANGER???

SMH Article – Sweat into shape

I’m concerned about this trend, it reminds me of the rubber suits that people used to run in to ‘lose weight’. While the thermic affect MAY help weight loss, there is a real danger of hyperthermia. We sweat to lose heat from our exercising muscles. If the sweat can’t evaporate then we can overheat and get a heat illness, collapse and at the worst extreme, die. I’ve always said, when running races in Australia you have two enemys, the battle for the race itself and the battle to lose heat. I leave this argument with two quotes from Brahams.

“The rubber suits worn by many people to lose weight are potentially dangerous and have resulted in death from heat stroke.” Brahams 1988

Three of the deaths were the consequence of attempts at rapid weight loss by extreme fasting and exercise (e.g., exercise wearing a rubber suit and sweat suit which led to hyperthermia).

I am not a blogger…yet!

If you have looked at my blog, you will soon realise that I have not written on a very regular schedule! I have thoughts every day, and say to myself, “I must put that in my blog” but fail to act.

Part of it is that I may believe that having the thought is enough! I don’t have to go public and share it. Part of it is probably laziness if I am honest, although I would like to think that it is ‘busyness’! Part of it is having lived in an academic institution for the last 26 years and published some academic papers, is that you don’t put anything out there until it has been written, rewritten, sanitized and peer reviewed!

However, I am slowly coming to the realisation that I am not a blogger! It is not in my nature to jump on the keyboard and share things. It’s not that I don’t like sharing and many people would consider me generous when it comes to sharing things/ideas/thoughts.

It’s just that I don’t think I am a blogger. I like reading other peoples blogs, I appreciate the self reflective value that blogs can provide. But it does not seem to be a main way that I express myself.

It is strange, as I have a list of topics that I have written down that I want to explore in my blog, but when it comes to expanding on the ideas, I find it hard to move with any pace.

I must say, I am really enjoying curation. My three scoop.it accounts ( Peter Mellow, Peter Mellow2 and Peter Mellow1 !) give me a lot of satisfaction, and I feel like I am making a contribution with them. So perhaps it is a matter of choosing the tool you best think works for you?

But I will endeavour to write more here, as Seth Godin says “if you stick with it, you’ll get good at it”. Fingers crossed! :-)


I dislike hate

I suppose it started with Talking Head’s Psycho Killer. That line “I hate people when they’re not polite” is the first reference I can think of to a trend I have seen over the last few months where people are ‘hating’ everything!

“I hate that TV show”, I hate fish, “I hate that colour”, I hate being late. etc. etc.

Now what we are really saying is that we dislike something, but hate it? Hate is a really strong word that is ugly (in my view) and shows a level of emotion that should be keep for really bad things.

I hate mass murder (or any type of murder actually) √

I hate injustice √

I hate really bad human qualities like prejudice √

These are things we should hate. But hating all fish just because you don’t like the taste of some fish, isn’t that generalising a little?

Why people can’t just say, “I don’t like shellfish, thanks very much” instead of “I hate shellfish” I don’t know. Sadly the world is full of too much hate as it is It does not need us to add it to every casual conversation that we have.

Digital Alibi

As I was checking in with FourSquare on my iPhone a few days ago I started to wonder if we are approaching a new legal age where the GPS device we have in our pocket could be used as an alibi or a defence in a court of law.

While checking in to Facebook at an airport, or FourSquare at your gym is only evidence that your device was there, it could make the argument interesting. For most of us, having that device on our person, or very close at least is highly important. These devices contain a large part of our life and as one Japanese student once commented; “If I lose my phone, I lose my head!”

While being able to use a digital device defence is intriguing perhaps another concern is more pressing. Could a company who was looking at getting rid of an employee use our mobile footprint to support their dismissal case?

By following an employees check in’s and posts, could we  be caught out, and perhaps be found somewhere where we should not be during our work day? I’m playing with these technologies to see how they might fit into a new educational perspective, but we must consider the negative use as well as the positive.

Is anybody out there? Or should it be, we know exactly where you are out there? Check in at your peril? Or become paranoid and don’t use the technology because it MIGHT be used against you. I suppose if you have nothing to hide, or can defend your actions and decisions, post away (sounds better than ‘check-in away’!).

An Ode to Colleagues

I love having colleagues. I like the word colleagues, collegial and collegiality. While now mainly used in academic circles it could be used in other situations such as a sports club (sporting collegues) or socially (comedy collegaues?).

We are all colleagaues with each other on our journey through our respective lives. Colleagues do not have to be friends, but they can be. They are people who have a shared sense of purpose respect and are working towards a common vision. It is something about the shared experience of working closely together and appreciating each other’s unique skills and teamwork (see, sport comes in again!).

My dictionary app talks about a shared responsibility. It comes from early 16th century French word collegue and the Latin collega – together with. Going together on a shared journey? So that alludes to a destination, but to me, focuses on the journey not the destination. The experience of working together.

Another Latin word, collegialis talks about a partnership and an association. While I am still see collegiality with a blurred vision, I know I am experiencing it very strongly here.

We have a clear sense of purpose for our direction through a shared vision and good leadership. We all work toward these lofty ambitions, not always at the same speed, but we stumble, walk, run at times in the general correct direction and there is something satisfying about being in this type of environment.

It is the business world Nirvana for all work teams to aspire to. A group of individuals, who stay individuals with their strengths and weaknesses, but are complimented and supported by other team members at different times in the journey. Thank you my colleagues, I really enjoy working with you! :-)

P.S. Technically an ode is sung or written in a lyrical way, but I was hearing a kind of music when I was writing this!

Week One Reflections

Week one of the first semester 2012 is almost over and I’d like to reflect on a few events that have stood out for me. Some years I think I am in Groundhog day mode this week as some things just seem to come around, again and again and again!

I talk with staff who have not prepared for their first week of teaching as well as they should/could have. I don’t know if they are bogged down with research or perhaps had one week too many summer break/holiday, but there always appears to some academic staff who have left it too late. They unit is not fully populated with content/links/discussions, and students can see that, which is sad if it is their first year at a University (this happend at my last University as well!). It looks amateurish and unprofessional.

I heard over table conversation this week, the tale of three first year students. All three commented on their lecturers swearing in class. None were too shocked or upset, but the fact that all three were surprised that it happend at all is telling I think (and we are not just talking about small swear words, but the F word, and others). I appreciate that for some areas of study, using a broader lexicography may be appropriate, however all three student subject areas were not the languages, but mainstream subjects.

I find the inappropriate use of swear words at University unprofessional. There are times and places. If I hit my thumb with a hammer when building something, a good F word eases the pain a little. But to be said for effect with first year students?

I like these two quotes on swearing from Hugh Prather:

“When I swear, I am being something rather than saying something”.

“Profanity fixes the other person’s attention on my words rather than my thoughts”

Have a great weekend all. Another fine sunny weekend is forecast for Perth! Be lucky!

One Year On

One year ago, on the 28th February 2011 I started my new job at Curtin University as an eLearning advisor. After 25 years at AUT University it was bound to be an interesting experience.

After the excitement of meeting new team members (wonderful people who have supported me through a rough year!) and seeing the great facilities and exciting projects that they were doing had settled down, I first had feelings of fear.

Fear that I was not good enough, that I had made a mistake wanting this job and that they had made a mistake in hiring me. It was like the line in “The Shawshank Redemption” about being institutionalised, perhaps I had stayed too long at AUT and was unable to adapt to a new University, new systems and a new country.

But quickly I felt good about how I learned my role and I felt that I did have great contributions to make to eLearning at Curtin and in Australia. Then the shit came down!

When my professional life was going so well, perhaps I had neglected some of my private life? There were many contributing factors, our house did not sell quickly and the time for my family arriving over here got longer. Then I got a phone call from my ex-wife saying she wanted a separation. No discussion from my part, no counselling or attempts at reconciliation, just one door closing on me.

I am sure I must have contributed to the breakdown, but I was pretty oblivious to it. Either I am not as sensitive as I thought I was or I must be a bastard. Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in between. I entered a dark part of the last year and could only focus on the failure. I was not productive at work, and thanks to the support and leadership shown by my colleagues, managers and friends I managed to got through it.

But I survived, I came out the other side and am reborn again in a new year! Things are looking up for me now, I am feeling more positive about my life and the future. So here’s to tomorrow, who know what it might bring, but it will be an adventure!

Comparing coat of arms.

Coat of arms are interesting. I was comparing them when something struck me. Starting with the oldest (in this comparison) is that of the United Kingdom.

I found this image that is meant to represent England interesting. First it has two animals, one mythical and one that does not naturally live in the UK. I can understand the Lion, being the king of the jungle and the royalty in the UK. They say the unicorn is a Scottish unicorn but that still does not explain why they use a mythical image?

To me, at least the Australian coat of arms has two animals that are native to Australia!

This is the original NZ coat of arms. The first (in this comparison) to include people instead of animals as the main characters. However what I find really interesting is comparing this old coat of arms, with the new one (below).



I like the change in orientation of the people. Instead of facing away from each other (ignoring each other?) they are now facing each other, perhaps in anticipation of creating some dialogue over the ownership of the land and how to live together in peace?




One of my favourite Maori proverbs is:

Ui mai koe ki ahau he aha te mea nui o te ao, Māku e kī atu he tangata, he tangata, he tangata!

Ask me what is the greatest thing in the world, I will reply: It is people, it is people, it is people!

It’s nice to see that NZ has people on its coat of arms. The people of the land are what it is all about and we should consider that instead of cuddly furry animals. While they are iconic of the country, it is the people that make the difference.