Archive for March, 2011|Monthly archive page

More conference fun

As I’m going to be very busy next week at my second, and final residential week for my PhD, I thought I would take the chance to make a quick blog posting about some academic conferences that I have an interest in.

Firstly, a couple of weeks after I return from Lancaster, I’m off up North again to Edinburgh, for ICPD2, or 2nd International Conference on Professional Doctorates.  This is conference is a ‘light’ touch for me – it’s been nearly four years since I’ve attended a conference and this is a gentle introduction back into these sometimes surreal experiences.  I’m giving a poster presentation and talk.  The poster is directly related to the first part of my PhD.  Click below to embiggen the poster, though note that this is a large file!









The poster was prepared using the excellent software PosterGenius which has recently been ported to the Mac.  This has saved me so much time, and I would recommend to all students preparing any sort of poster presentation.  It’s not cheap, but the poster above took me a morning to produce, though most of the text was already prepared.  Printed at the university (£11 for an A1 print, with a free postal tube), the finished product is now winging its way to Edinburgh, to sit in an office until the 20th April.  What can possibly go wrong with that!

My University is generously (in this day and age) paying my conference fee, and the Open University, through the ‘AL’ development fund for tutors has agreed to pay my flight and accommodation expenses, which was great to hear.  I know that conferences are seen as ‘jollies’, but I have got so much out of the ones I’ve been to before.

And much later in the year, I’m planning to submit an abstract and paper to Relive ’11, Researching Learning in Immersive Virtual Environments 2011 at the Open University.  This will be a paper based on research I have carried out in Shareville, a virtual environment.  Again, I’ve been told if my abstract is accepted that my conference fees will be covered.

But long term, I’ve had to sit down and have a good think about what I’ll be spending most of 2012 and 2013 working on, my ‘part 2’ thesis for the PhD.  Whilst we won’t be committed to our subject until the end of the year, we as a cohort are being asked to think long and hard at the residential about what we would like to do.  I think I’ve a good idea, and will share this with my cohort next week.  I don’t want to give too much away about it at the moment, in case it gets shot down in discussion, but I will share as soon as I can.

Am I an academic researcher?  No, not yet, though I am making the first steps, and I can see my writing style and rigour improve with each paper I write… I have two more ‘mini’ projects to complete this year and then it’s the 50,000 word thesis (though I’ve just written 500 words here, so I’ve only got to multiply this by 100, right?).

Now it’s time to curl up with my Kindle, and for a change do some more reading, but of a less cerebral nature.


Radio 4 Extra – more information

Information is slowly emerging about about the upcoming switch from Radio 7 to Radio 4 Extra.


It appears that the switch will happen in the ‘first week in April’ – information about the new Archer’s spin off points to this date.  You’ll also see that I’m one of the few people who’s written a comment in support of the new programme- the first time I have been moved to do so on the BBC site (check out comment 11 on the posting).  For me, this couldn’t be worse timing assuming the ‘first week’ of April is the 4th April.  I’m in Lancaster for my PhD residential, though I will of course be taking a radio with me.


We don’t know much about the schedule yet, though I guess like all Radio programmes it will be published a week in advance.  Ambridge Extra will be on twice a day, at 10:00 and 14:15, so that seems to indicate that there will be repetition as there is now, though could we hope for maybe a little less (8:00, 12:00, 19:00 ‘classic comedy’ for instance, if I’ve had a hard day in front of the keyboard it’s possible if not likely that I will here each of these repeats, and be able to act as a prompt to The Men from the Ministry).  It’s unclear too what will happen to current programmes which haven’t finished their run.  I’m enjoying The Navy Lark, and whilst each episode is pretty well interchangeable, it would be a shame if they can’t complete the entire run.  I do hope that they keep the zoned programming though, it’s nice to know that I can turn the radio on at (say 10pm), and know there’s going to be comedy, or if I’m unfortunate Heated Rollers.


Well we know that there are going to be extended versions of The News Quiz / Now Show, and classic Desert Island Discs – so that will be something to look forward to.  Other nuggets in the press release state that some new comedy will be premiered on Radio 4 Extra before its outing on Radio 4.  This is a good idea, given how comedy programmes frequently transfer from the Radio (I listened to Miranda Hart’s Comedy Shop on Radio 2 well before the first series aired on BBC2, and the rest of the world ‘discovered her’).

Catch Up

It looks like there will be more podcasts available for off-line listening (Keri Davies has confirmed Ambridge Extra will be a podcast too), and of course there’s always iPlayer.  Worryingly though, buried in the BBC’s online strategy I remember reading that they were considering ‘spinning off’ Radio from the iPlayer.  If so, this is a mistake – so much time has been spent integrating the two services, and even my mom, who is not a techie can click on the iPlayer icon I’ve put on her desktop and access any Archers episodes she has missed.


That’s all that I’ve been able to gleam, and it seems that even the BBC News site can add little to the current knowledge, they’re keeping this all pretty hush hush apart from trailing the launch ‘coming soon’ fairly heavily on Radio 4.  I’ll resist posting more until actual launch, though if you hear anything, feel free to add a comment below.


Enough Procrastination

I am fortunate, in my day job I have a lot of freedom about how I spend my time, apart from the usual commitments of lectures, meetings, exam boards, boards of studies etc.

The upside of this that I can do what I want, and within reason, when I want.  Autofocus works really well for me as a day-to-day to-do list management system.

However, there are five items on the list which haven’t moved on for over six weeks.  Under Autofocus rules I should delete them, they clearly aren’t things that are inspiring me, and I haven’t really started work on them.  The problem is, they are five new online lectures for a course that the students will expect to be online, complete with supporting texts, talking head videos, and practice examination questions on the 1st June.

So I’m trying something inspired somewhat from Andrew Dubber’s 30 days of ideas, all be it on a much smaller scale.  My ‘five days of lectures’ will force me to write one lecture each day, and make sure that I’ve got all the resources needed, so that a couple of days of polishing  and tidying will get this monkey off my back, metaphorically speaking.

No email, definitely no Twitter, but at the end of each day I will post here how I’ve done, and how I feel about this.  Bursts of intensive creativity are nothing new, NaNoWriMo, which my friend completed in 2009, is an example of this.  If this doesn’t work, then of course I’ll know that I am truly a marathon, rather than sprint runner.

My reward?  I’ve been tempted to invest in another DAB Radio, this time for the office.  After all, it’s been months since I’ve bought one!