I’m usually very protective of my family life and in particular pictures and information about my wife and daughter. I’m breaking this rule with the permission of my daughter to ask you to show your support for the continuation of cleft surgical services in both Edinburgh and Glasgow. My daughter was born with a cleft lip and palate and within hours of her birth we were receiving support from the Edinburgh cleft team. Clefts are the most common facial defect affecting 1 in 700 births. Currently in Scotland there are two cleft teams in Scotland, on in Glasgow and the other in Edinburgh. It’s worth stressing how important these teams are including plastic surgeons, speech therapists, orthodontists, dentists, audiologist, clinical nurse specialists and more. For the east of Scotland the Clinical Lead of Cleft Lip and Palate Services is the world renowned Dr Felicity Mehendale.

Whilst many hard decisions have to be made in funding the NHS given the number of children affected by clefts I think it’s important that in Scotland we maintain both the high level of treatment as well as invaluable research and teaching in this area. With this in mind please:

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A while ago I was approached by staff at RMIT University to give a session on the use of Google Analytics for Learning Analytics. This is something I’ve touched upon in past presentations and blog posts. One of the advantages of being on the Google Experts programme is rubbing shoulders with experts in other products like Google Analytics. One such expert is Nico Miceli who got his Google Experts badge around the same time as me. Nico has taken Google Analytics far beyond pageviews using GA  to track the physical world and even for textual analysis. Given Nico’s expertise I was keen to get him involved in the sessions and fortunately for me he was up for it.

If you’d like to see what we talked about the below is the session abstract, our slide deck and recording of the session co-produced with Nico ...continue reading

Later today I’ll be presenting at CiviCon London, the largest gathering in Europe of CiviCRM community. CiviCRM is a big part of my day job at the Association for Learning Technology and this event is the perfect opportunity to hear about the latest developments and get some inspiration for what we can do with our own Civi system.

The talk I’ll be giving is based around some earlier work I’ve already published about  Custom regular reporting from #CiviCRM with Google Sheets and Google Apps Script and Tips on emailing inline Google Charts from Sheets using Apps Script. These outline the method we use to trigger the sending of .csv data attached to an email sent from CiviReport using a Google Sheet: ...continue reading


Google recently announced a new Google Apps Script Service called Execution API. The pitch:

Have you ever wanted a server API that modifies cells in a Google Sheet, to execute a Google Apps Script app from outside of Google Apps, or a way to use Apps Script as an API platform? Today, we’re excited to announce you can do all that and more with the Google Apps Script Execution API. The Execution API allows developers to execute scripts from any client (browser, server, mobile, or any device). You provide the authorization, and the Execution API will run your script.

Getting data into Google Sheets from external sources has been a long held interest of mine. Whilst the Execution API can do much more than just this in this post I want to focus on how you can setup the Execution API to create an authenticated pipeline. Before I go into this it’s worth reminding ourselves of the other ways you can get data into Google Sheets, in particular, publishing a script as a web app. ...continue reading

Photo credit : Chris Bull CC-BY-NC-SA ALT https://flic.kr/p/xx86UaLast week was #altc, once of the largest annual edtech events in the UK calendar. Each year we’ve seen a growth in the use of Twitter at the event and it makes sense for us to have the live Twitter stream displayed throughout the venue. In previous years we’ve relied on 3rd party services but this year I wanted to bring this in-house.  Having looked around I came across a nice example by Remy Sharp for a ‘A conference twitter wall with built in schedule & announcements’. This looked ideal as the schedule and announcements was a nice additional feature, plus it was coded in HTML/Javascript making it easier for me to modify. ...continue reading

Is learning technology fit for purpose?

In my opinion generally yes ... but are the education systems they support equally optimized? Today's education is focused on administration of learning and as such learning technology inevitably has the similar focus.

It'll be interesting to see One Big Question: a #digped Discussion turns out:

Imagine that no educational technologies had yet been invented — no chalkboards, no clickers, no textbooks, no Learning Management Systems, no Coursera MOOCs. If we could start from scratch, what would we build?

The problem I see with that question is as I recently highlighted:

the tyranny of the present is, it makes it very difficult to think of any change that's not incremental to it  - Alan Kay

I'm personally really looking forward to seeing how the Lawrie Phillips and Donna Lanclos  session goes at #altc this year on Reframing the debate? Learning Technologies part 2 (paper 881 in the programme)

Previously I’ve written about how we use Google Apps Script to extract data from one of the Association’s online systems. We use this technique to generate charts which give us some insight to our current standing. One limitation we had was to view the charts we had to open the Google Sheet with them in. There are various techniques for automatically distributing these using Apps Script and in this post I’m going to highlight one method for emailing inline charts. Below is what the result looks like, an email with an embedded chart, no need to download or preview attachments. ...continue reading

Missed a trick and as Alex Bellars points out should have called it #blideo

David Hopkins recently challenged me to a #blimage and as David explains:

if this is the first time you’ve come across #blimage, here’s a brief summary of what it is. In short, Steve Wheeler (@timbuckteeth), in conversations Amy Burvall (@amyburvall) and Simon Ensor (@sensor63), started the #blimage challenge, which is:

“a confection of Blog-Image. (Yes, we are now in the age of blim!) You send an image or photograph to a colleague with the challenge that they have to write a learning related blog post based on it. Just make sure the images aren’t too rude. The permutations are blimmin’ endless.

David provided a picture of a Lego stormtropper at sunset to #blimage me with. You can’t beat a bit of Lego. My first thoughts weren’t the image or what the image could be interpreted as, but the image as a digital artefact. As a digital image it can be endlessly replicated, distributed, remixed and more. As someone who until the late 90s predominately learned from books, the paper kind, it’s interesting to reflect on how ‘digital’ has changed the way I learn and, in particular, the digital moving image. So in true academic style I’m not going to answer the question set, but answer my own question instead:

what #vidage has influenced my thoughts around education?

...continue reading