Monthly Archives: October 2014

MOOCs, Websites and Writing

This week heralds me taking part in my first ever MOOC – hosted by FutureLearn, I am doing the Open University’s Start Writing Fiction – an 8 week free course designed to help you…start writing fiction.

Here is my writing notepad that I am supposed to be scribbling ideas in.


This week is week 1 of the MOOC.  There are video/sound clips to watch and listen to, exercises to post on the discussion boards and you can interact with the other learners by reading and posting on their comments or pieces of writing.  FutureLearn also gives you the functionality to follow other students (or tutors) so you can see what they are posting.  This is quite useful as there are a lot of people taking part in the course so the number of comments can be quite overwhelming – focussing on a few “favourite” individuals, limits this problem.

FutureLearn offers lots of free online courses, with regular start dates.  Perhaps I should get my team to all do How to Read Your Boss? There are ones about computing, global health, dentistry (?!) and space. taught by as well as The Open University, Reading, Leeds, the British Council and other Universities .  Well worth a look.


Fun websites

At the weekend I stumbled upon this site by another 23 Thingser and she mentioned me! And was right – of course I meant Dr Seuss, not Alice in Wonderland! anyway; it’s nice to see someone else go through the 23 Things process and see what their experience has been. I could see her point regarding Thing 5 and the personal brand exercises

I also found this site yesterday –
stats with catsexploring statistics, interspersed with pictures of cats. Honestly; what more could you want? Stats with cats.  Needless to say, I have set up an RSS feed from the site!


23 Things – Thing 9 (and Thing 8)

Thing 8

(from last week; but I didn’t think I had enough to say to justify one post) was to look at Storify I did have a look, and maybe this might be something I will use in the future, but not now!

Thing 9

focusses on the F-word.  Facebook!  I have always avoided Facebook and sadly, being old and stuck in my ways, will continue to do so.  It was interesting to check out the University of Oxford’s page though and the Oxengage Social Media Michaelmas page too

Storytelling in presentations

Yesterday evening, I was fortunate enough to go to a wonderful presentation by a man called Garr Reynolds – renowned famous, umm, presentation-giving guy.

maths floor

Garr has written a number of books on the subject of making and delivering presentations, which he calls Presentation Zen.  He has also written a number of books on the subject.

Garr encouraged us all to forget what we knew about giving and writing presentations:

  • putting bullet points on slides
  • reading/expanding on said bullet points
  • (eg the slide has 4 bullet points, you are a good presenter and know you are not supposed to just read what is on the slide, so in your notes you write 8 bullet points to read)

And to go back to basics – plan away from the computer and to make sure we tell a story with accompanying, visual imagery.

To make messages “sticky” you can use emotion, unexpectedness (this can be done through contrast – a big image with a small one, a coloured image next to a non coloured image).

What is the story you want to get across? Simplify!
Your story should have some character building at the beginning so we can sympathise, get involved and concerned; then a problem or obstacle, and finally a resolution/solution.

We have a departmental meeting at the start of November when I had planned to speak anyway about the fact that despite the major changes in the team, yes we were still here, and yes we were still doing some work and these were the projects we would be working on.

So after this talk, I lay in bed wide awake thinking, and have pretty much got the whole presentation planned out; I even now what I need to get photos of to add some of this visual impact to my story, rather than using a bullet point list of the projects we are working on.  I will report back as to how it goes, but I am pretty excited about it!

Oh, and I also have subscribed to Garr’s RSS feed to, linking back to Thing 7!

23 Things – Thing 7 RSS

Lots of things this week!  Number seven is RSS feeds.

The task is to set one up (which I think I have done now, see the left-hand side of the page somewhere) and then subscribe to a couple.  I managed to find a couple of participants who have RSS feeds and I subscribed via my browser – now when I go to favourites, I can look at feeds or pages.

Do I like them?  Well; the blogs I am really interested in, I subscribe by email, so I get an email whenever things change or a post is added – so what does an RSS feed give me?  Well, I suppose it allows me to check when I want to – say I have a spare half hour and I think “Ok, let’s look at all my feeds” and then I can just look at all the new stuff when I am ready.  The view is quite attractive – no navigating to the individual pages for the new posts, I can just scroll and read – useful if I have missed a few posts and want to catch up all at once.

Will I continue to use them?  I am not sure at the moment – but perhaps I haven’t yet found the right sites!

23 Things – Thing 6 Twitter

One of this week’s tasks for 23 things asks me to think about Twitter.  I use Twitter a fair amount for such things as cat pictures (@MYSADCAT @emrgencykittens), sports heroes (@paulajradcliffe, @jopavey, @mo_farah, @usainbolt), comedians (@mindykaling, @themiltonjones, @hughlaurie…) and then some wonderful people in fundraising and analytics who I admire such as @adrainsalmon, @DonorScince, @jenfilla, @FundraisingYoda, @annualfund, @birkholz (review of his book – Fundraising Analytics – coming soon) @kevinmacdonnell and @pbradwylie the writers of Score! (review to follow).

Perhaps I need to find some of my favourite authors to follow?

So, what do I get out of Twitter?  Some light relief, updates on running (how I found out that the men’s world record for the marathon had been beaten at Berlin this year) and it is also useful for work; exchanging ideas, referencing articles and reaching out to like-minded individuals.


It is also great to see some extra blogs are joining in, which I have been checking out.
The next task (see schedule) is on RSS feeds.  Hmmm – I managed to subscribe to one of the new blogs via an RSS feed.  I think.  Let’s save that for Thing 7!