Educators collaborate on Twitter

Having listened, once again, to yet another media commentator deriding Twitter as ‘pointless & banal’ I felt I had to post this. This fantastic collaborative piece of work is evidence of the quality of interactions that are shared every second of the day around the world by some of the most inspirational educators. 

The document was put together by @dajbelshaw and @stuartridout (see their biographical information in the book). It came into existence after a collection of previously unconnected people joined forces and contributed to a Twitter Hashtag entitled, #movemeon. I have not met ANYBODY else who contributed to this document, other than by following some (not all) of them on Twitter. The people I follow share their thoughts and ideas about effective education , they provide links to resources, webpages, articles and events that they recommend. I use my Twitter account as a very specific, targeted search engine for everything about learning. For me, it’s the most valuable source of professional development in existence on the web. I hope you enjoy the publication.


Futurelab connect educators in one place

This is a new project from Futurelab to connect educators who have some kind of online presence. All the details are in the leaflet. I recommend a visit to the Futurelab website to explore some of the fantastic work they’re doing to integrate technology & learning for 21st Century Education. I’m hoping to work with them again on a ‘Confident Communicators’ Project we’re launching in February. 

You can also follow them on Twitter @futurelabedu

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Design Thinking to stimulate Creative Learning


I’m working on an educational set of cards following the same pattern as these IDEO cards. This, however, is the place where I acknowledge (and publicly thank) my original inspiration for what I am now working on. I hope they’ll be useful to teachers in supporting creative thinking. I’ve created some ‘Joker’ cards to add to the pack. More to follow when the project is complete.

Here are the original cards. I bought the complete set of these cards after I saw them on the IDEO website. Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO does some great work around stimulating creative thinking  (watch him on talking about (1) SERIOUS PLAY and (2) SMALL DESIGN) and I had them sent to me from San Francisco. This PDF version demonstrates the simplicity of the way in which they work. Categorised under four suites, (Learn; Look; Ask; Try) these design thinking playing cards are a superb tool to use with students and teachers when:

  • problem solving
  • developing creative thinking
  • project planning
  • structuring enquiry
  • developing strategic thinking (staff and students alike!)
  • supporting learners to work in a more open & collaborative way
  • supporting learners who need more scaffolding

The list goes on! I really recommend purchasing teh cards and checking out for some great ideas, philosophies and apporaches to developing solutions. They’ve also got some great videos on iTunesU.

Please let me know if you find this post useful.

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Connecting beyond the world of education

My quest this year (as it has been for the past few years, in fact) is to make greater links between the ‘bubbles’ that we tend to inhabit. In a rapidly inter-connecting world, the skill for learners and educators is to connect, adapt and develop relevant and engaging learning opportunities together. I read and look out for ideas and thinking beyond the world of education to make sure that my own work is relevant and enriched by the great minds of others. 

In the spirit of such connectivity, have a read of this great new e-book from Seth Godin (

Taking presentation to the next level with the RSA Animated Series

I love using visuals in my work. When teaching, I’m never far from a board & marker pen to illustrate the concepts and ideas that I’m explaining. When I taught A Level Philosophy, I created a series of cartoon-based text books for students to support their understanding of different philosophical concepts. I guess I should dig them out and see if they could be digitalised in some way…a project for the new year, I think. Anyway, I now use keynote when I’m training, presenting and giving talks. It’s far more intuitive than PowerPoint and encourages lots of simple pictures, easily embedded clips and audio – oh, it’s a joy!
BUT…I have now come across the RSA’s Animate series…and I want to start doing things a bit like this! Check this out for a fantastic, engaging and informative way to present information. I’m off to get started now! The content itself isn’t half bad, either!
Thank you, RSA and Professor Stein Ringen (Professior of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Oxford)

Creative Confidence

Much of my work around creativity concentrates on building the confidence of teachers to be creative. One thing I do is use a very simple activity called the ’30 Circles’ challenge which I picked up from Tim Brown (CEO of It involves asking teachers to adapt a template of 30 circles in just one minute in whatever way they want to. Time and time again, I watch groups undertake this challenge and I am constantly amazed by the hesitation of the adults to begin the challenge. Of particular note is one group of senior leaders I worked with who used up 23 seconds before one brave member of the group made the first move to put pen to paper. During that 23 seconds, the of the group stared nervously at their own paper, at their neighbours’ paper and around the room, to see what others were doing before they would have a go themselves. When I do the same activity with young people, however, they attack it with enthusiasm and almost reckless glee from the minute I say ‘go!’. (It is worth noting that I did this recently with a group of primary teachers after we had invested the first part of the session building a strong learning community and they were much much more eager to get started!)

This TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert is an absolute delight to listen to and does a fantastic job in suggesting why and how adults lose their ‘creative confidence’. In addition, she comes up with a great plan for how we might help each other out and take the sense of risk out of ‘being creative’ for adults and our young people, for that matter.

It acts as a fantastic accompaniment to the sentiment of a wonderful speaker I met last year, Robin Widdowson, who started his talk with the statement,
“Creative pupils need creative teachers with the confidence to take creative risks.”

Anyway, make yourself a cuppa, sit back and enjoy learning about your very own creative genius…and how you can cherish it.