from @ John's World Wide Wall Display


I know we are in the days of lots of free space, but it is worth remembering when blogging (or making webpages) shrinking images is worth doing for your visitors.

I don’t always do it, but today as I updates a Glow Blogs Help page, I saved nearly half the space by using, ImageOptim — better Save for Web.

There are other tools, but this one is free & open source, works on a Mac, but lists and links to windows & linux tools.

Preparing for the Apprenticeship Levy with @bobharrisonset @MartinLewarne @itslearningUK⤴

from @ ...........Experimental Blog

 A week ago I had the opportunity to talk on a webinar about some of the changes coming in the Apprenticeship Space in England and how it might impact on Colleges and Training Providers . The clever people from ITSLearning  demonstrating great digital literacy - have now published the session as a  Youtube Video

Many thanks to @bobharrisonset @MartinLewarne @itslearningUK

Relevant too for  Scottish Training providers and Colleges.

Instagram GO⤴

from @ John's World Wide Wall Display


Dean Groom on Poekemon Go:

Teachers should care about Pokémon Go! – after from the initial network effects (craze) as it is a good way for kids to develop socially. It isn’t designed for education and certainly presents the all too common accessibility issues of commercial games – but THIS game leads you to start thinking about why games, play and learning are important – and how they can be connected with helping children deal with saturated media cultures – Great!

from: Should teachers care about Pokémon Go? | Playable

There is a lot more to think about in that post.

As usual with games, my mind wander and my eyes glaze, I’ve never caught the game bug (although I am interested when I read something like the above).

My first though was it is a wee bit like golf, a good walk spoiled. I am now wondering if some of my own behaviour fits the pattern.


  1. I wander about outside, searching, looking at the map on my phone
  2. I capture images
  3. Share and store online, socially, flickr, instagram.

Featured image my own, IMG_5868 | John Johnston | Flickr CC-BY, sort of hunting idea. The kind of Pokemon I look for.

Pokemon Go… Tech Vs Policy Maker Results⤴

from @ Edu Tech Stories

Over the last few years I have felt that education reform would come from tech companies collaborating with innovative educators and early adopters of technology before it would come from the political classes. This post considers these issues by looking at what Pokemon Go has achieved in comparison to some of our politicians projects and efforts.

Over the last few years I have looked at the way that ideas roll out in education and have argued that one of the biggest challenges is that "Product market Fit" has not been achieved and, in education, cite a main challenge with this being due to the lack of collaboration and co-creation between educators and tech companies.

To test this idea I have focused less on discussing any particular products or services, and more on looking for products, services and ideas that had a culture where I felt ideas had value and a culture that could see things scale. This has included supporting things like the Scottish Independence Referendum, Education Scotland's #DigiLearnScot agenda and Marialice Curran's Digital Citizenship Summit Brand and Declara.

All these projects had an impact in a relatively short period. At the time of my getting involved, I felt all had a promising culture. If and when the cultural conditions disappeared, I became less involved.

Tech Vs Politicians
The phenomenon of Pokemon Go has further demonstrated to me that it's innovative Tech companies that we should be looking towards... as opposed to the political classes. Need some evidence?

  • Tony Blair and New Labour: The "Every Child Matters" initiative had a "Be Healthy" Strand, I wonder if the tweet above is true in that Pokemon Go got people more active in 24 hours than ECM did between 2003-2010. 
  • David Cameron: Scrapped the Healthy Schools initiative as well as Every Child Matters and replaced it with his failed "Big Society," I wonder if he wished that Pokemon Go was around when he launched this initiative. 
    My thoughts on "The Big Society" in 2012:
    Culture in Edu... A House Divided Cannot Stand
    • The Scottish Independence Referendum and the "Yes Scotland" Campaign: Had a fantastic grass roots movement that I got involved with as I felt it was inspired, but the movement and opportunity was completely squandered (See P1 of this doc to see why I got involved with #IndyRef). 
    I am not politically minded but when you work in education you find that you need to deal with the political classes, something I have all but given up on in the UK... especially after seeing how much of a hash they made with Gazelle, FELTAG and how demolarising the culture UK politicians have (and continue to) create in education.

    I supported the #VoteYes campaign because the culture was the kind of diversity that Jane Jacobs celebrated... and which Pokemon Go looks set to replicate.

    Pokemon Go... User Experience
    It's worth highlighting that while I like hanging out with innovative techies, as a user I'm a laggard and need some convincing to try new ideas...we download Pokemon Go the day that it came out in the UK to see what all the fuss is about.

    Knowing about all the opportunities that exist in gaming we don't discourage our kids from playing them (Take a look at the jobs on Niantec's Job webpage... wish I'd stuck in at gaming when I was a kid! Lol.). But at the same time I'm rubbish at these new fangled games (And I mean REALLY rubbish!) so don't play them too often... nevertheless I am keen to see what all the fuss is about.

    With two teenagers and a 5 year old in the house, it can be difficult to find activities that they all like so it's FANTASTIC! that we all head out together... phone in hand.

    We head to a local park, a park that's only a few moments away but that we have not been to for ages. We think that we've been gone for 30mins... it's 2 hours later when we get back.

    The next day I take my 5 year old to his drama class, a trip that's made more enjoyable looking for Pokemon... landmarks that we go past every day not only take on a new level of interest, but we learn about statues that we've given a second glance or the history of a building.

    When we return the two older boys decide to go out. By then it's 2pm UK time so 9am ET... the servers are down and remain down for the entire Pokemon hunt. There's a bit of a strop about the game not working.

    Having worked at a few startups and with an interest in tech and how and why ideas that roll out quickly they, soon get a lecture about patience and a reminder that the game was free... along with asking them why they are getting annoyed about a company that makes something so good that everyone wants to use it... especially when it's the first day and that it didn't cost them anything!

    We take a walk anyway and discuss "network effects," "Feedback loops," community management and jobs in the gaming industry and how they could get started... and other things that I discuss in this blog that the boys show absolutely zero interest in normally ;).

    On the way home we walk past a girl with a Pokemon hat on and do something that we hardly do, strike up a conversation based on the game, she has not played the game yet as the servers were down.

    At 9pm the game is back online and we take a midnight jaunt for a few hours, again we strike up a conversation with someone who's playing the game too.

    Having spent most of the kids life in startup land, with the various stresses of this lifestyle, the significance of this first day cannot be underestimated. It was a fantastic day of engagement and conversation

    Other days since then have been much of the same... lot's of walking chatting, exploring our surroundings in a new and engaged way and striking up conversations with random strangers.

    "Which Team?" Asks a young lad as he walks past a Pokemon Gym. A question in Glasgow that you might want to avoid given the Celtic/Rangers rivalry and the trouble it causes... but not on this occasion.

    "Team Instinct" we answer, "Boo" comes the reply, "Mystic!!"

    A Few Good Men... And Radical, Extreme Collaboration
    With a positive user experience and a global phenomenon within a matter of days... thoughts soon turn to "shop," and who created this? How did they do it? What were their aims? Niantic CEO, John Hanke details the three goals they had in mind

    The Niantic team had three big goals in mind when building "Pokemon Go," .

    Exercise: A lot of fitness apps come with a lot of "baggage" that end up making you feel like "a failed Olympic athlete" when you're just trying to get fit, Hanke says. "Pokemon Go" is designed to get you up and moving by promising you Pokemon as rewards, rather than placing pressure on you.

    "To see the world with new eyes:" The game is intended to "give you a little nudge" towards cool and interesting things in your neighborhood by turning real-life landmarks and historical sites into Pokestops and Gyms where players power up and battle. By encouraging exploration, "Pokemon Go" can "make your life better in some small way," Hanke says.

    Breaking the ice: All over the world, players are organizing "Pokemon Go" outings, cruising around their area and trawling for Pokemon. At higher levels, players need to team up with fellow players to conquer those Gyms. This is by design: Hanke describes "Pokemon Go" as an "icebreaker" that "gives people a reason to spend time together."

    Each and every objective was met with this users experience. According to LinkedIn there are 11-50 employees at Niantic. Think about that for a moment... Look at what 50 people in a massively collaborative environment have achieved in the space of 2 weeks since the game went live in the US.

    I wonder if any initiatives out there that policy makers can highlight that have achieved the same results between April 2014 and today? 

    I think that the global phenomenon of Pokemon Go demonstrates very well how and why I feel innovative tech companies will solve a lot of issues before the squabbling political classes will. If anyone feels this is an unfair comment, feel free to check out the #Brexit shenanigans. 

    Pokemon Go in Education
    What about Pokemon Go in education? How will that be received? 

    Not only can I tell you how the discussion will go... I can show you..Here's a collection of over 100 education based articles about Pokemon Go: Pokemon Go Edu

    As you can see, some people and groups see this augmented reality game as an opportunity... others a risk and a threat. And here's the thing, both perspectives and every viewpoint in between is right and will have merit.

    After all, while my experiences have been extremely positive, I'm sure if we were to ask the people who have crashed their cars, fallen off cliffs and stuck in caves will have a very different experience... and quite rightly, any risk assessment of an educator about a new idea that has these examples is going to see the health and safety staff break into a cold sweat.

    But if we are not careful the naysayers could win the day, and opportunities be lost. It's much easier for "the experts" to write an authoritative post which is be dismissive of something just because it's new... or worse, for these "experts" and decision makers to have political allegiances, so make a decision based on ensuring that they do not appear to show up our "hard working and right honourable political classes" instead of exploring an idea that has merit?

    Maybe this "What Wildlife Scientists can Learn from Pokemon Go" article which cites a 2002 study "Why Conservationists should Heed Pokemon" where a joke is made about designing a game called "Ecomon" to capture children's attention, as they were able to identify Pokemon better than common wildlife.

    As I say, I've been highlighting that the issue with EdTech and the search for that all important (but equally elusive) "Product Market fit" is a challenge due to a lack of collaboration between educators and technology companies for quite some time... Something that I also highlighted to FELTAG in 2012... One of the people involved in this government initiative even wrote the Forward in an EdTech Report I wrote:

    Whether an early adopter or laggard when it comes to new ideas regarding education technology... #Whatif a website that may well have an icon on your homepage today but was blocked initially was embraced from the outset?

    #Whatif... Twitter and Facebook were not blocked when the sites were launched? How much further would the Digital Citizenship agenda be today? How many less trolls would be around if educators fully explored all the risks and benefits instead of making what was clearly a rash decision for any school who blocked social media but have a presence today.

    Of course caution and due diligence is required, but to dismiss out of hand doesn't sound much like learning to me.

    Post 16 Skills Plan in England – Reflection from Scotland⤴

    from @ ...........Experimental Blog

    Here are some of the main bullets from the Post 16 Skills Plan in England with some Scottish reflections. It would be good to see some innovative thinking in this space in Scotland. You can read both the Sainsbury Report and the Post 16 Skills Plan here  The Sainsbury Report is a big read but the significant follow up published on same day is the Post 16 Skills Plan.

    This is not all happening next year - the system is to be fully in place by 2022.

    I don't agree with all of this but I do agree with some of the reforms set out here.  This is an administration trying to shake things up and build a system that is  more effective for learners.
    At the age of 16, students will have to choose between the “academic option” – comprising A-levels leading to an undergraduate degree – or the new “technical option”. This will signal the end of 16-18 students being able to opt for a mixture of academic and vocational qualifications, and is likely to lead to greater specialisation in individual providers and schools. For learners, however, there will be the option of switching between the two routes after completing A-levels or equivalent qualifications
    Instinctively,  I don't like the notion of learners choosing either 'academic' or 'technical' but that might be hardwired into my psyche. But if the system allows learners to genuinely progress back into either higher technical or back into 'academic' learning and the system really works to break down that academic vocational divide, then it should be attractive to learners and their parents. With the caveat too that your decision is based on sound careers advice and not that the 'technical' route is the only one open to you.

    I think this is saying too that if you choose this route you are probably leaving school to attend College or achieve this through a training provider rather than staying on at school and getting a taster of a vocational offer - though I do think schools in Scotland could offer full national certificates and other programmes, perhaps this will happen, but it might take a new generation of teachers with a broader view of learning and one that is not so focused on the academic routes. The current Developing Scotland's Young People policy is perhaps not as bold in its ambition as the Post 16 Skills Plan.
    In the “technical option”, students will embark on one of 15 technical education routes: agriculture, environmental and animal care; business and administrative; catering and hospitality; childcare and education; construction; creative and design; digital; engineering and manufacturing; hair and beauty; health and science; legal, finance and accounting; protective services; sales, marketing and procurement*; social care*; transport* and logistics*.
    This is always more complex that it looks - it will be hard to fit all the things that industry want in the way of skills into 15 technical education routes. Where for instance in the list are music and sports industry qualifications and what all needs to fit under the Creative Design route - in theory everything from graphics, journalism to furniture design.  But most Colleges in Scotland should recognize most of their current national certificate provision in this list - and progression and completion rates can be a challenge in FE provision in Scotland  - perhaps something to think about at SCQF level 4, 5 and 6 and maybe a good opportunity to look at what is in these courses along side what is in the modern apprenticeship and to have another look at progression pathways. There might be more than 15 routes but building a clearer relationship between national certificate and apprenticeships is clearly a good thing for learners.

    Some people reading this might remember a previous aborted attempt to introduce GSVQs in a fixed number of routes - this looks bolder building a link on into the apprenticeship.

    Colleges might be alarmed to see Social Care along with the other starred routes  listed above as a route that will mostly be delivered through an apprenticeship rather than solely a college based route, but when you reflect on this it does make sense. NC Social Care should be about clients and not mainly based in a College.
    Within each route, learners can – following a transition year or traineeship for those “not ready to access a technical education route at age 16” – choose between a two-year, college-based programme (including compulsory work experience), or an employment-based programme, such as an apprenticeship (including at least 20 per cent college-based provision). Older learners will also be entitled to take these programmes.
    This is really how national certificates in Scotland and apprenticeships could link together . The terms traineeship and transition year  is I think a better pre-apprenticeship term that the foundation term currently used in Scotland. In effect there is a traineeship then either a two year College programme or entry on to an apprenticeship -given there being a close relationship between the College programme and an apprenticeship programme.
     Each college programme will include a “common core” of English, maths and digital skills, as well as “specialisation towards a skilled occupation or set of occupations”.
    This is almost  how many national certificate programmes in Scotland currently operate. They do though cover a broader range of core skills , essential skills , skills for learning life and work .
    But, would a greater focus on numeracy and communication along with digital literacy improve the progression rates for Scottish FE learners as a common core in NC provision ? I have blogged in the past about the demise of IT as an essential skill replaced by Digital Literacy in Wales. Here is that transition happening in England . Digital literacy already has to be a component of the new apprenticeships in England.
    After this, the pathways lead on to either level 4 or 5 higher technical education programmes, degree apprenticeships or higher apprenticeships. There will also be the option in some cases of taking “bridging provision”, leading to an undergraduate degree.
    As learners in England are paying up to £9 thousand pounds a year to choose the degree route - so not really £9K think £27K before other learning and living expenses  . Employers including many of the professions like accounting now offer apprenticeship routes to full professional status so that canny learners can earn while they learn and avoid student debt .This has led to a growth in the number of what are called advanced apprenticeships.

    The bridging provision exists through HN to degree in Scotland more effectively than in England but  there needs to be clearer links in Scotland between VQ level 3, 4 and 5 and HND and Degree provision. Colleges and Universities in Scotland are not good at recognising achievement through the apprenticeship route- even where this provision is now SCQF credit and levelled.
    The new Institute for Apprenticeships will see its remit expanded to encompass “all of technical education at levels 2 to 5”. It will be responsible for bringing together expert groups to set the content and standards for each of the 15 routes and become the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education
    This makes sense, it has been a bit of a shambles in England with lots of competition creating an unhelpful maze of qualifications for learners and centres. Though there is probably exaggeration where the  reports talk of 160 awarding organisations and thousands of different qualifications. These awarding bodies and qualifications do not all exist in the College space in England.

     Effectively SQA really awards or accredits across this space already in Scotland but attention needs paid to these developments. I am sure if the expert groups create 15 robust routes there will be some expectation that these are adopted by organisations that operate across the UK . I am sure SQA will be watching this carefully. It also looks like the New Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education will have oversight of this rather than Ofqual ,so the Institute becomes a new strategic partner for SQA.
    The report calls on the institute to review all existing apprenticeship standards “at the earliest opportunity” to ensure there is “no substantial overlap”.
    I think this is highlighting the very mixed bag of fragmented standards and assessment strategies that were produced by the 'trailblazer' organisations,  who did not call on the experience of sector skills councils, awarding bodies, colleges and training providers in creating the new standards and assessment strategies and this  gives the new Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education the opportunity to tidy these up as they come to have this oversight.
    Each qualification at levels 2 and 3 will be awarded by a single awarding body or consortium “following an open competition”, rather than the current market, which sees awarding bodies competing with one another. There will be one qualification for each occupation (or cluster of related occupations).
    I highlighted earlier that this may be more of a challenge than it seems in terms of one qualification for a cluster of occupations.

    The notion of one awarding body per subject is to control the  market in England which has been out of control for probably the last 20 years - this model was mooted by Mr Gove to control GCSE and A level inflation and was then abandoned. This could be the end of many of the small awarding bodies in England. I am assuming that City and Guilds, Pearson Learning , OCR and a number of the larger awarding bodies will carve this market up if this goes ahead. But, I am assuming that having been granted a monopoly the government will set the prices for qualifications and assessment. It is often overlooked that in Scotland,   SQA could be seen as almost a monopolist provider on the awarding side of the organisation but the Scottish government agrees the price tariff in Scotland not the SQA.

     I think it would be good if one agency had control of the standard and the model of assessment - but allow awarding bodies to continue to compete around innovative on-line delivery and assessment delivery .The innovation needs to be close to the learners.

     If only one awarding body has all the computing or accounting expertise  ..what happens when the qualification comes up for re-tender in 3-5 years ?  or what happens if there is a significant system failure with the one awarding body.

    This is not currently a problem in Scotland but if a large employer decides they want to use these English awards, history shows that they will probably get funding for them in Scotland.

    There will be a single set of “exit requirements” of minimum standards in maths and English for both college and work-based provision. Each college student will be required to complete a “high-quality, structured work placement”, and complete a logbook to demonstrate what tasks they have undertaken and what they have learned.

    This is not yet really embedded in Scottish system every National Certificate learner would benefit from a structured work placement , some more focus on numeracy and communications and digital literacy and an on-line logbook or e-Portfolio that they can use for progression - this would sit well with employability and enterprise and the aims of Developing Young People.

    There is currently a useful survey on the  Scottish Government Response to Employer Levy  on what employers think we should spend the Employer Levy on in Scotland.  If it goes ahead in April 2017 the treasury will raise £3billion pounds across the UK and around £250 million should be available in Scotland. It is probably time to do something more fundamental in this space . But , and say it quietly, Scotland does not have a great track record in innovation here,  SVQ's were copied from NVQ's , Core Skills from English Key Skills in earlier reforms.

    Perhaps,  we should be doing a bit more thinking about the system being funded rather than just what we will do with the money that comes from the Employer levy ?

    Pi Notes⤴

    from @ John's World Wide Wall Display


    After 38946 gifs and 24660 jpgs my Raspberry pi has stopped taking photos.

    I am not sure why but it stopped recognising the camera module. I’ve decided to give that a rest while keeping the pi going as a server for other things. I’ve also moved it from the windowsill to a better position on my local network.

    It is still running my River5 which I wrote about Raspberry River and a basic web-server: john’s pi server.

    I’ve now added Dave Winer’s blogging software johnjohnston which has been running for nearly a week. Setup notes: 1999 set up on my pi

    This has given me a chance to play (a little) with all the pieces, node, git, the pi and a new blogging system. is quite opinionated software and has some differences from systems I am more familiar with. I’ve written some notes 9 Thoughts on & Comments, Rivers and Glossaries. It is helping me think a bit about how software affects us.

    I’ve also bought a Pi NoIR camera which I’ve used on my other pi, grabbing photos every minute of the bin outside our window in the hope of catching some foxes. It is not posting to the web, but over the network to my mac. My poor craft skills mean it was balanced on some cardboard and slowly slipped through the night. No foxes were photographed on the first try. I’ll be getting a better mount and trying again.

    I’d like that, second, pi to be portable with a few buttons to do different things, start timelapse, grab and post a gif, etc. I’ll need to learn a bit more.

    Senior Phase Vocational Pathways – Early Adopter Projects Evaluation⤴

    from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

    SFC reportIn academic year 2014/15, SFC supported seven early adopter college regions to work in partnership with local authorities, schools, employers and other key partners to explore and develop senior phase vocational pathways. The document provides a final evaluation of the early adopter and highlights the following key elements:

    Success criteria:

    • Strategic regional partnership working and planning.
    • A regional co-ordinator who can turn strategic commitment into reality.
    • Effective employer engagement and incorporation of work based learning into pathways.
    • Local authorities and schools with a strong orientation towards vocational pathways.



    • Achieving space in a timetable and overcoming the fear of “dropping a higher”.
    •  An approach to partnership working that is systemic and embedded and is not reliant on “good will” and relationships.
    • Scalability of the provision in terms of capacity of colleges to deliver higher volumes of this provision verses the displacement of other activity.


    • Scottish Government working with national partners should lead a national marketing campaign on vocational pathways including employers.
    • A discussion on how far we have come in securing more proactive employer engagement and how that is to be measured and assessed.
    • Promoting the value and benefits of vocational pathways as an alternative route to getting a university degree.
    • Focus groups with the 2014-15 cohorts to ascertain how young pupils made the decision to undertake a vocational pathway.


    Access the report here.