How to make self checkouts better, in 4 easy steps

Self checkout machines, once an amusing novelty, are now just another mundane fact of life. A harried clerk rushes between impatient, sighing customers. The customers put unexpected items in the bagging area. The machine sits stupidly, admonishing us, eating our money, spitting out change, and, in the meantime, taking our jobs. These machines obviously raise questions about human labour.… Continue reading How to make self checkouts better, in 4 easy steps

De facto standards for search engines, and why it doesn’t hurt to follow them

I wrote a while ago about dominant design, whereby one design becomes the standard way of doing things. In that post, I gave examples of play/stop/pause icons on media players, qwerty keyboards and traffic lights, though there are plenty of other examples out there. One thing I didn't mention was the distinction between these two:… Continue reading De facto standards for search engines, and why it doesn’t hurt to follow them

Flipped teaching: narrow and wide definitions

Narrow Flipped teaching is sometimes presented narrowly, like this: Traditional = teacher spends class time lecturing, then students do exercises at home. Flipped = students watch video lectures at home, then do exercises in class. Wide You also see it presented more widely, like this: Traditional = teacher spends class time on content coverage, then students apply… Continue reading Flipped teaching: narrow and wide definitions

“We’ve always done it this way”

In the recently published Really Useful #EdTechBook, a range of people from the educational technology sector each get a chapter to write about a chosen issue. It was an interesting read, especially as I have the same job as many of the writers. In some cases, they write about the results of some research they have carried out, while others use… Continue reading “We’ve always done it this way”

A review of Evgeny Morozov’s To Save Everything, Click Here

Evgeny Morozov's an intelligent, entertaining, and above all fearless writer. In his 2013 book To Save Everything, Click Here, he ridicules Jeff Jarvis, savages Jane McGonigal, and even takes Larry Lessig down a peg or two. And that's without mentioning what he does to Clay Shirky. Ouch. That said, his targets are not the people themselves,… Continue reading A review of Evgeny Morozov’s To Save Everything, Click Here

Lesson planning, efficiency, and the value of duplicated work

Speaking at Bett last week, Nicky Morgan made noises about reducing teacher workload through the sharing of lesson plans between schools: Increasingly, curation [of lesson plans] can help to reduce duplication in the system and help to spread good practice from school to school. In this post, I want to take a closer look at this idea of duplication, and… Continue reading Lesson planning, efficiency, and the value of duplicated work

Learning from the Eames about information design

I happened across the (now defunct) website of Brooklyn-based designer Frank Chimero the other day. It's a nice site, pleasing to look at, easy to navigate and so on. But what interested me most was this, on the about page: This site is an attempt to produce a contemporary personal website. I tried to avoid simplification and… Continue reading Learning from the Eames about information design