Martin Weller does it again!

I’m older than Martin Weller. So his new book, 25 Years of Ed Tech, doesn’t seem to cover a long enough period to me (reminder: print is a technology). Nevertheless, it’s a full and enriching outline of the impact of the internet and associated technologies on education, so you’d better read it. Thanks to Martin and Athabasca University Press, the online version is free. Continue reading

A comment from Rodney Trotter

I don’t get many Comments on my blog, so when I receive one I take notice. When someone does comment, I’m automatically sent an email with the details. What particularly caught my eye with a recent one was the name of the sender: Rodney Trotter. This is of course the name of one of our heroes (Del Boy’s hapless younger brother) from the wonderful UK television series Only Fools and Horses, so my curiosity was aroused. Continue reading

On the joy of (largely) unknown books

An advantage of retirement is the time that becomes available for reading. I relish it, read regularly, and love discovering (largely) unknown titles. Most are discovered serendipitously; wandering among the shelves of bookshops (new and second-hand), visiting op-shops or meandering around markets. Particular examples include Lady Spy, Gentleman Explorer, which caught my eye simply because the biography’s fascinating subject was a Murphy, and Bad Faith, which tickled my fancy when I read on the blurb that an alcoholic Tasmanian, Myrtle Jones, was intimately connected with the worst Nazi collaborator of the French Vichy government in WW2. Other exciting reads include those that offer a fresh, and sometimes personal, perspective on well-known events and historical events. My favourite example is V2, an autobiographical account of the German rocket programme of WW2 by the German General responsible for its oversight, Walter Dornberger.

These books are relatively well-known. There are also many that are published (or self-published) in small numbers that remain unknown to the general reading public. We get to hear about them only by chance or through a friend associated with their publication. I have a few interesting instances. Continue reading

Why you should visit Hong Kong now

Earlier this month I spent five days in Hong Kong. You should go. Why?

  1. Hong Kong is still one of the world’s great cities
  2. There are very few tourists
  3. You can visit Disneyland and Ocean Park and not queue for rides and attractions
  4. There are bargains to be had – the markets are quiet
  5. Hong Kong has sites and attractions you haven’t seen yet
  6. Enjoy a country walk to a beautiful beach
  7. If you’re rugby fan, you MUST attend the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens at least once
  8. It’s safe: Hong Kong people support democratic reform but deplore violence
  9. It’s cheap – packages with major carriers are a bargain, and the public transport system is a dream
  10. It would demonstrate your support for the HK people

Continue reading

Bach loved beer!

St David’s Cathedral organ

I was introduced to Johann Sebastian Bach as a boy, while a chorister in St David’s Cathedral in Hobart. We were blessed with a world-class organist and choir master, John Nicholls, who knew no greater pleasure than blasting out Bach on the magnificent church organ. As the choir was located close to the organ, we not only received it at full volume, but could feel the vibrations through our feet. Continue reading

CoL and rugby

There’s been a weird confluence between the Commonwealth of Learning (CoL) and rugby this month. Not only is the rugby world focusing on the Rugby World Cup, but the open learning community has focussed on Murrayfield, the spiritual home of Scottish rugby, via CoL having its ninth Pan-Commonwealth Forum (PCF9) at said venue. I didn’t know that Murrayfield Stadium is also a conference venue, but it makes a certain kind of sense, and I wish I’d been there! Continue reading

What I have in common with Keith Richards

My discovery of commonality with a Rolling Stone originated in my search for the highest note achieved in the famous hymn ‘I Was Glad’ by Hubert Parry, often performed at British coronations (it was performed as Catherine Middleton walked down the aisle of Westminster Abbey to wed William). After the usual scramble around multiple websites, I ended up in the Wikipedia entry on ‘boy soprano’, where it was noted that “Keith Richards sang as a choirboy in a trio of boy sopranos for Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey in the 1950s.” Yes, I too was an Anglican choirboy, but never in such an esteemed setting. Continue reading

When you meet your heroes

‘Never meet your heroes’ is the oft-quoted mantra, clearly implying that they’ll disappoint you if by chance (or otherwise) your paths cross. Now maybe I’ve just been lucky, but I’ve managed to meet my heroes (albeit fleetingly) in three of the major categories (music, sport and science) and they’ve all been magic memorable moments. Continue reading