farewell netskills

“And so we face the final curtain…”

farewell netskills

Netskills 1995-2014. (Image: Carl Vincent)

With apologies to Frank (Sinatra, not Sidebottom), I write the final blog post from Netskills Towers.

It’s unlikely to be news by now, but Jisc Netskills is drawing to a close after a gnat’s crotchet short of 20 years (depending on when you think the clock started ticking). Right now there are 3 of us left in an eerily quiet office, tidying up loose ends and gearing up for Christmas.

I’m trying to decide what to do with the tiny pot of jam that’s been sitting in my top drawer since about 2011.

From a personal perspective I’ll need a bit of time to reflect on what the last few years have meant to me (SPOILER: a lot!) but it seemed wrong to leave our blog with nothing to mark the occasion.

So, thanks to everyone who has ever worked at or with Netskills, come on a workshop, used our materials, popped in for coffee, favourited one of our tweets or has had dealings with us in one way or another.

It was a pleasure to serve.

 

 

 

 

Image of a Phantom UAV

Attack of the Drones! New perspectives on fieldwork learning

Image of a Phantom UAV

It’s Bug Season by Adam Meek CC-BY 2.0

News stories and viral videos about drones seem to crop up on a fairly regular basis but what does the emergence of this new technology mean for education?

I’ll start by saying that perhaps the proper term should be “Unmanned Aerial Vehicle” (UAV) rather than “Drone”. There’s debate about what the difference is but for some the main feature of a drone is that it is semi-autonomous. The devices I’m talking about here are remote controlled aircraft.

UAVs are pretty much “a thing” now but they are not uncontroversial. Aside from their military role people will be most familiar with the multi-copter style devices although fixed wing UAV’s have been in use for quite a while. They’ve been in the news recently over their potential use for Amazon deliveries as well as their contribution to international sporting events!

The rise of the civilian UAV is closely tied to the arrival of devices like tablets as control devices and small HD-capable cameras like the GoPro. A fairly robust set of equipment will cost you hundreds, rather than thousands.

That puts UAVs within the budgets of individuals and certainly education institutions.

UAVs in fieldwork

My interest in drones is about how they can enhance fieldwork and it’s not hard to see where the benefits might be. The ability to see landscapes from different perspectives can be very powerful, providing a useful mid-point between direct observation and full remote sensing.

UAVs with cameras could be a useful resource on a field trip for reaching hard-to-access landforms. This is useful for all students but will also be useful in supporting students with impaired mobility. This novel take on the selfie shows how a view of a landscape can be expanded using a UAV-mounted video camera.

Of course, photography and video only take you so far. Measurement is also important, which is where approaches like photogrammetry and 3d scanning come into play. Here the tools become much more advanced and therefore expensive but this video of a field trip to create a 3D rendering of the Matterhorn shows. You can see the results of the survey at about 2mins 50secs.

Considering another avenue, have a look at this video of “drone racing” Endor-style through a forest. It not only shows the maneuverability of these vehicles but also suggests what might be possible if you could combine the use of UAVs with 3d headsets like Oculus Rift for watching a live camera feed or captured recordings (see 1min 54secs).

Existing practice

There is already extensive practice in the use of UAVs for research and fieldwork. The list of speakers at the University of Exeter’s UAVs in Environmental Research event in July 2014 shows some of the people involved in this area, the breadth of applications and gives links to all the presentations.

The University of Worcester’s Institute of Science and the Environment also ran an event on Remote Sensing from Small Unmanned Aerial Systems in 2013. It was filled to capacity.

Addy Pope from the Go-Geo team at EDINA helpfully pointed me towards the work of Tim James at Swansea University who has been using UAVs to monitor the dramatic glacial calving process.

Considerations

Cost

The starting point for UAV’s is in the hundreds of pounds. One of the most popular devices, particularly with amateur and semi-pro film makers is the Phantom UAV which seems to start at around £300 for some models but goes up nearer to £1000 for different packages. As the popularity of UAVs increases expect more choice to become available. I was intrigued by this open source UAV that was looking for funding on Kickstarter earlier this year. (Look at it’s funding target and what it eventually achieved! A measure of the popularity of UAVs?)

Technological limitations

Any UAV will be limited in terms of range and ability to function in difficult weather conditions. Battery life is also something you need to consider. For example, the senseFly eBee UAV has a flying time of only 50 minutes.

Safety (personal and equipment)

Safety is an important part of any fieldwork and using UAVs may help to avoid some more risky situations. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t want to place students anywhere near spinning rotor blades without properly trained staff and a full risk assessment! Operating in public spaces also brings risk to non-participants. There’s also a risk to the equipment, especially if the weather turns against you.

Legal aspects and privacy

As most consumer level UAVs are small and light they are exempt from most Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) rules on airworthiness but in commercial use cases permission may be needed. According to the CAA website, permission is not needed if “the aircraft will not be flown close to people or properties, and you will not get ‘valuable consideration’ (i.e. payment) from the flight.” This is obviously applicable only in the UK. Fieldwork undertaken abroad means checking things out with the local authorities. This article from The Next Web on the personal use of drones is a handy summary for the UK and US but if in doubt always check.

If geosciences aren’t your thing…

…maybe this more aesthetically creative use of UAVs will appeal. It’s quite lovely.

Almost as interesting is the Making off… video that goes with it.

 

sue-training

Pedagogy leading the technology – lessons from our e-learning workshop

Danny training at e-Learning Essentials workshop

Netskills HQ recently played host to staff from three North East colleges. Bishop Auckland College, South Tyneside College and Tyne Metropolitan College are all part of an ambitious e-learning project we’re leading.

The gist of the work is to mentor the colleges to embed enquiry-based e-learning in their teaching. The project is building on a successful project we completed last year with South Tyneside College, designing and developing six modules for their initial teacher training course. (We’ve made a short video about the work if you’re interested in finding out more.)

Three of the four colleges involved kicked that work off by taking part in our intensive training on scenario-based e-learning.

Danny took the group through our BTEC-accredited e-Learning Essentials workshop which challenges attendees to rethink their approach to e-learning. Something that isn’t always easy or comfortable to do, Danny says.

e-Learning Essentials workshopSue training at e-Learning Essentials workshop“As usual with this workshop, people come on it with an apprehensive mindset thinking it’s all about technology, when actually it’s all about teaching and learning.”

“It’s about transporting the classroom into the e-learning environment using active and immersive e-learning strategies.”

At the end of the three day workshop, everyone had produced a highly engaging piece of e-learning along with completing the level 4 accreditation.

They left, as one of them put it “full of enthusiasm” to pursue their plans of reinvigorating e-learning back at their institutions.

Before they went, we grabbed a few of them for a quick chat about the past three days.

We’re capturing stories and recording progress from along the way in a dedicated project blog.

Twitter Analytics screengrab

Twitter Analytics arrives, but just because you can measure something…

Twitter has recently rolled out a new Analytics tool to the majority of its users so you can now see a little bit more about what happens in the life of one of your tweets. Is this going to be useful information for you?

Twitter Analytics screengrab

Gauging the impact of your use of Twitter has, for most people, been a bit of a hit and miss affair. What do you measure? Total number of tweets, replies, RTs or favourites? These have always been quite crude measures.

Until now, the more sophisticated tools have required either detailed technical knowledge or have come with a significant cost attached. Twitter’s Analytics service seems to fill a gap between what’s easily available for free on their main site and the more commercial tools.

Getting started

This couldn’t be simpler, really. Go to http://analytics.twitter.com and sign into your Twitter account if you haven’t already done so.

If it all looks a bit empty when you get there, it’s because it only activates when you first visit the site. No retrospective data is available. Tweet away and you’ll find the data starts to appear.

What does it tell you?

For each tweet (only manual RT’s show up) you can see how many impressions you made and what level of engagement each tweet had. An impression means simply that a tweet has been delivered to someone’s Twitter timeline. It doesn’t mean they have actually seen it.

The engagement measure is a bit more interesting. This means that a Twitter user has done something with your tweet. Drilling down by clicking on this figure shows you that this can include things like:

  • Replies
  • Retweets
  • Favourites
  • Link clicks (if there is one in the tweet)
  • Hashtag clicks
  • Embedded media clicks…
  • …and a few others

Twitter Analytics screengrab

The most potentially useful piece of data you can get from the tool is the engagement rate, a simple measure of the number of engagements divided by the number of impressions. This means you can say things like “well only 50 people saw that tweet but I know that 63% of them clicked the link to our website” which is much more data than you’ve been able to get this easily before.

There’s a handy bar chart showing variable activity over the last 24 hours. The whole thing is fairly intuitive and well presented.

If you want to do more interesting data analysis you can export the data as a CSV file.

You can also get a profile of your followers showing gender, location and “interests”. There is little indication how these interests are worked out. Education is high on the list for my followers as you’d expect. Apparently 29% of my followers like “comedy”.

It’s also restricted to your own tweets, replies and promoted tweets. If you want to track a conference hashtag then there’s not much for you here.

Quantity or quality?

[SPOILER: Quantity]

If you’ve used something like Google Analytics you’ll notice that there’s a wealth of data that just isn’t available here. For example, there’s no indication of how or where people are engaging with your individual tweets. It might be interesting to see the geographical reach of a single tweet or perhaps what devices people are viewing it on.

One of the things we emphasise on our blogging workshop is that this quantitative data isn’t the be all and end all of social media.

It tells you nothing about the quality of your interactions with people or organisations. You could be the most outrageous troll sporting a fantastic engagement rate but leaving discussions, reputations or emotions in tatters in your wake.

Additionally, number of impressions or engagement rates may not even be important information for you. As an individual, I don’t use Twitter to have loads of followers, RT’s etc. I use it to have and follow conversations, the value of which isn’t determined by my engagement rate.

Is the data valuable?

Why is Twitter making this available now? That’s unclear but it could be argued that if people can see what happens with a tweet it’s more likely to encourage increased use with all the benefits in data and monetisation that you’d expect Twitter to want.

But does the user get enough benefit to balance that out? Although there are now more numbers to look at, the data is still pretty crude and requires proper interpretation (or leaps of imagination!) to derive much meaning from it.

The tool certainly gives you more information than has been available through Twitter in the past. The additional data might be useful if you are trying to set targets for an organisation’s Twitter account or need ammunition to convince others that use of Twitter is worthwhile.

So, have a look if you’re responsible for managing your team’s Twitter account, are in charge of the marketing for an event or are an individual curious to get a better picture of what happens after your click the Tweet button. There might be some useful insights in there.

But don’t be seduced by the lure of lots of numbers if they’re not actually that important to you! Just because you can measure something doesn’t mean that it’s actually worth measuring.

Many thanks to @catherinelliott, @hopkinsdavid, @bhanwar, @ntaylorHEA, @philswinhoe and @carlvincent for being sports and boosting my engagement rate so I had some numbers to look at. 🙂

 

put-it-on-the-web

Digital is more than just the web – lessons from IWMW14

Last month, IWMW14 came to town. Our town. At our invitation. So we worked hard to make it an event worthy of a place we love. Our conference team did such a good job of the organisation that I even got to sit in on the talks. So I get to blog about them here…

Rebooting the Web

That was the event title, but to get more of a sense of what it was about visit the IWMW14 pages on Lanyrd where you can see slides and resources from the speakers and attendees.

put-it-on-the-webI don’t intend to review each session in-depth here, but rather highlight a theme that stood out across those I attended. That is that digital teams have a role well beyond simply being a service to “put things on the web.” Instead they should be catalysts for institution-wide change.

Much has been said about digital “disruption” and the external threat this represents to education. What I found refreshing here was the desire from people in digital teams to see this as an opportunity. They’re the ones trying to instigate change because they care about what the organisations they work for do and know that doing digital better means doing education better.

Who said that then?

Paul Boag from Headscape talked about the idea of “digital transformation” and how those working in web/digital teams can lead it. He advocated establishing core digital teams, empowering them and giving them the independence to make good things happen.

Ross Ferguson talked about doing this in practice at Bath University, where he’s encouraged a startup culture/attitude to digital, honed at the Government Digital Service. It was inspiring to hear about the willingness of his team to stick to these principles and demonstrate, despite some opposition, why they lead to better results. The culture change was partly about different approaches to managing digital teams, but also about helping people in those teams see their work in the broader context of what the organisation is for.

Hiten Vaghmaria, from the University of Westminster, presented a more centralised organisational model for their ‘digital development services’ as part of a talk on creating work allocation tools for academics. Again though, they had set digital in a broader context, linking many of the units that can often become silos.

Christopher Gutteridge of Southampton University chipped in from the audience with stories of working beyond the organisational chart to form ad hoc groups of able people who were motivated to achieve something they thought needed doing. That doesn’t require a new committee or unit, but it does require leadership.

That sentiment was echoed by Tracy Playle who outlined issues with the “groupthink” approach of committees and strategies. She told us that if social media strategies serve any purpose, it is to act as a Trojan horse for organisational change by starting conversations that organisations really need to have, such as “restructuring communications around audience needs instead of internal department structures.

In the final panel session, Mike Nolan observed that “sometimes you have to do things under the radar to get them done.” He said that digital teams should lead developments, not just react when they are asked to. I think the nods of agreement around the audience show a dedication that organisations should recognise and value.

Institutional change is a big deal

This reminded me of a Jisc project I worked on way back in 2008 looking at Institutional Responses to Emergent Technology. To detect institutional responses to the rise of “web 2.0” we looked for changes in ‘5 Rs’ – Rules, Responsibilities, ƒRewards, ƒRelationships and ƒRoutines.

I think this is still a pretty good model to identify any organisational change, such as the change I hope the people I met at IWMW will go on to achieve. While that will no doubt take time and effort, I think it would have a positive impact on educational organisations beyond just their websites.

Off the record

I also learned that the people who go to IWMW know how to party! So a town that knows how to host one proved a good choice of venue. I think I can speak for all my fellow organisers when I say it was a pleasure to be involved in both the social and educational sides of IWMW. We’re looking forward to seeing what Brian comes up with for IWMW15!

Editing text to be concise

Get to the point – web writing workshop reframed

Editing text to be conciseAs the changing digital landscape forces us to keep honing our writing and editing skills, I’ve quietly given one of our most popular workshops a bit of a refresh.

After the first three rounds of Writing for the Web in its new form, I’m happy to see the effort has been worth it – average feedback scores boasting 4.8 out of 5 (which is great, even by Netskills standards).

What’s the point?

It’s a workshop that’s been around for over a decade now in the Netskills portfolio. I took over in 2010 and have made tweaks to the content ever since.

But in the past few years, I’ve had a nagging feeling that something hasn’t been quite right. I felt I spent too much time introducing the web as a medium and by the time we got to the meat of day – editing and re-purposing text – the energy had run out and the post-lunch sleepiness had hit everyone.

So I set up about making some changes. I started by writing down what I wanted them to get out of the day:

  • get a chance to edit text that is meaningful to them
  • learn practical techniques that will help them write better text both online and offline
  • know where to start when having to re-purpose text for the web

New structure

First thing I did was to strip the introduction right down. There seems little point dwelling on introducing the web as a medium when the web use has become ubiquitous even among the most technically timid people.

I also reframed the day a little. Drawing on common considerations around different types of web content, I listed questions that apply when making any content better and structured the day around them:

  • Is it easy to find?
  • Is it easy to judge to be the “right” content (i.e. from search results)?
  • Is it easy to scan?
  • Is it easy to understand?
  • Is it interesting to its intended audience?

In each section, I introduce practical considerations and techniques like the inverted pyramid, sentence structure, active voice, scrapping common redundancies, audience analysis, adapting writing style and tone, etc.

I hope that by keeping things generic in terms of the type of content but specific in terms of advice, people will find it easier to apply the new skills when back in the office.

Less telling, more doing

The new structure is much leaner too (still potentially a bit too much PowerPoint but it’s a work in progress!). There’s a heavier emphasis on making a point by showing and doing rather than just telling.

Small exercises throughout the presentations make sure no one falls asleep! Judging by the feedback, this seems the right balance.

“This was one of the best courses I have been on, a great mix of telling then doing, with good examples to illustrate the point, now giving a lot of more informed thought to our efforts on the webpages we are responsible for.”

“I found this course really useful and will be applying a lot of what I learnt straight away – especially the inverted pyramid technique. I thought the number of attendees was about right for the balance of presentation and activities.”

“This was an excellent course which I would highly recommend to colleagues.”

More substance

Tightening of the content also gave me a chance to add a few things in, such as considerations around typography and formatting.

I could also expand the section which looks at writing in the context of search engine optimisation – something that went particularly well down on the first run of the new version.

The work doesn’t end

One thing that has struck me in my four years of running this workshop; there seems to be a constant, if not increasing need for honing writing skills for digital media.

Skilful writing and confident editing are skills that transfer across various job roles. But particularly now, as more and more people are using the vast array of digital tools available, the need to adapt our writing style and learn to edit our own text for the right context becomes even more pertinent.

Which means the work won’t end here for me either. I will keep honing the workshop to make sure the content stays useful as the digital landscape keeps changing and growing.

Netskills team supporting IWMW with Brian Kelly.

Welcome to #IWMW14! Netskills team all set to host edu web conference of the year

For the past few days, we’ve been signing for deliveries, opening various boxes excitedly (we take pleasure in little things), printing off signage, confirming menus and room numbers and making numerous lists. It’s the final leg of preparations for this year’s IWMW.

IWMW spider logoFor those not familiar with the acronym – which has inspired the now legendary (well, in our circles anyway) spider logo – it stands for Institutional Web Management Workshop.

It’s an event that brings together people working with institutional web systems across the education sector. In its 17 years, it has developed a strong, tight-knit community around it and has a unique quality of being a large conference with a very practical and informal feel about it.

The official conference website will tell you more about the talks and sessions as well as the background of the event. The theme this year, ‘Rebooting the Web’, will challenge the audience to look beyond traditional approaches in providing institutional web services.

Netskills has been a part of the IWMW community for years but this year we’ve taken a different role – co-organising the conference with Brian Kelly from Cetis. Brian, who is the founder and the face of IWMW, used to work for Netskills in the 90s and we’ve kept in touch with him ever since.

From Netskills, we’ve got a team of six supporting Brian.

Netskills team supporting IWMW with Brian Kelly.

Steve Boneham (3rd from left) is the main man in charge with Brian Kelly (middle). Phil Swinhoe (far right) has got all the logistics and admin side of things for the 2 ½ days in hand. As for the rest of us – me, (next to Phil) Dan Etherington (far left) and Christina Hunter (middle) – we’ll man the registration desk and act as general runners for the event while Dave Hartland (2nd from left) will oversee that everything goes to plan.

As well as managing the operations side of things, other Netskills staff will be around as attendees and we in the conference team are hoping to get a chance to hear some of the talks too.

We’re really excited to welcome nearly 130 attendees from all over the country and show them around our home city.

If you’re on Twitter, follow the conversations (and chip in!) by using #iwmw14

If you’re attending and want to get in touch with any of us – we’re all on Twitter (just click our names above).

Herb Kim on stage at Thinking Digital 2014

Joy of discovery – the case for attending random conferences

Herb Kim on stage at Thinking Digital 2014

Just why is it again we go to Thinking Digital?

That’s the underlying question in the polite comments made by colleagues and, to be honest, lurking around in our own heads as well.

Each year after having been part of the inspirational tech event, we find ourselves coming back to that question.

This time, we heard about 3D-printed lunar habitation, how super computer Watson could become  doctors’ assistant, why it’s time to debunk the myth of innovative private sector vs. stale public sector and why a string of beads jump out of a can in an arc. And so much more.

Was it all just for fun? Pure entertainment? Did we just skive work for 2.5 days?

This year, we finally had an answer. In fact, it was one of the speakers that articulated it for us.

It’s because of the “unknown unknowns”.

Erin McKean’s talk was about discovery. The same thing her projects seem to centre on; back in 2011, she showcased a meaning discovery engine – Wordnik – and this year, the conference audience heard about her new project – The Reverb App, a new way to discover topical and interesting content.

“Best discovery is like a good present from someone who knows you well.”

The beauty of discovery is that you don’t know what you will find. The unknown unknowns.

By getting together with a group of like-minded people doing interesting things, you give yourself the best possible chance of making amazing discoveries.

And don’t beat yourself up for not being able to articulate what those are when presenting your case for going to your boss. By definition, you can’t know what they are.

That’s the beauty of serendipitous discovery.

So why do go to Thinking Digital? Because you never know which future colleague/partner/project collaborator/friend you haven’t met yet.

Adobe Voice screenshot

Just how “digital” is digital storytelling?

I was challenged at a recent conference to think about whether digital storytelling (DS) is making proper use of the power of the web.

After a few years exploring digital storytelling (DS) at Netskills we’ve settled on a particular format that we find works well for our workshops and also our own video production. It’s an approach that is based on a model used the world over and combines an audio voiceover with still images, produced as a video, like this example produced by Rupal Patel, a graduate student at Nottingham University.

It’s simplicity belies the fact that it’s a very powerful technique that is achievable for pretty much anyone even if they have never done any work with digital media before.

Thinking in different ways about digital storytelling

However, during a recent conference presentation on the subject, after describing this approach, I was put on the spot with a really challenging question about it; are these digital stories really digital?

I think the point that George Roberts, the questioner, was making was that although these stories exist as digital artifacts, the technique itself doesn’t make extensive use of the affordances of the modern digital universe. For example, the web is dynamic and ever-changing; these stories are fixed in time. There is little use of interactivity or social media in them. Also, the web is capable of sharing information in so many more ways than through video. Consequently, George compared the traditional form of DS as having much in common with desktop publishing. I can see what he’s getting at.

The way we approach DS is by no means the only way of doing it. That’s something we make clear on our workshops.

So, what does digital storytelling look like when it’s more “digital”? There are loads of examples out there. Here are some of my favourites.

Hollow

Hollow is one of my absolute favourites. It’s an interactive documentary that tells the story of how a rural county in West Virginia has been impacted by population decline and the changing economy. It relies on scrolling to activate the animation and some of the video content. It makes very good use of modern browser technology and even finds ways of getting the audience to contribute to the story through social media, although this is on a fairly superficial level.

Here’s the trailer:

Snow Fall

Snow Fall” caused quite a stir when it was published by the New York Times. It is similar in some ways to Hollow but relies more heavily on a written piece of journalism  combining the text with digital photography, GIFs, mapping and data visualisation.

It’s an approach that has been emulated many times since but there’s also some interesting debate about how much impact it might have on the world of journalism, mostly whether it’s a sustainable form given the effort that has to be put in to creating them.

There are more examples of this style of storytelling out there. Firestorm from the Guardian is particularly good.

Nagasaki archive

As a lapsed geographer I have a soft spot for maps. The Nagasaki Archive project is a great example of using mapping technology, in this case Google Earth, to to make the most of the fact that stories and place are intimately connected. From the video demo below you can see how they have used Google Earth to create layers of multiple stories, images and maps to tell the story of the devastating events when “Fat Man” dropped out of the sky on 9th August, 1945. The video also shows how they incorporated aspects of social media as part of global public engagement exercise.

Highrise – One Millionth Tower

One Millionth Tower came out a while ago. It’s a collaboration between web designers, artists, media producers and residents of a highrise block in Toronto. It makes great use of HTML5 and WebGL technologies to create an immersive 3D environment to explore. My favourite bit is that the “weather” and daylight on the site mirrors the actual conditions in Toronto at that moment.

It’s best viewed in Chrome, FireFox or Safari. If you don’t have those then here’s the trailer.

Story hacks

This is less of a style of digital storytelling and more of a method. There have been a few of these collaborative events that bring together creative and technical teams to produce transmedia stories around a particular topic. They use video, audio, web design and data visualisation to create some compelling stories.

Storyhacks have happened in the US in Vermont and New York and at the Barbican in London. 15-days.org is one of the outputs from the New York event focusing on issues around solitary confinement in the US penal system.

It strikes me as an approach that universities could make good use of especially for public engagement in research, but that is something to explore in a blog post of its own.

The future of digital storytelling

All these examples show that digital storytelling doesn’t have to be just about producing a 2-3 minute video and that it’s possible to use much more of the power of the web to tell a story.

At the moment, creating these interactive and transmedia stories takes a great deal of time and expertise, putting it out of the reach of many which also loses a lot of that personal control that’s so important with the traditional form of digital storytelling.

There is no “ideal” form of DS. It depends on what your purpose is and what resources are within your reach.

But technology is always moving on. It will be interesting to see how the emergence of tools like Mozilla’s Popcorn change the way that storytelling and the web work together. That’s something we’re going to investigate more and come back to in a future article.

Thinking Digital Conference stage 2013

Annual fix of fresh perspectives and new ideas

Thinking Digital Conference stage 2013

Inspiration and world class innovation is about to fill the Sage Gateshead and we can’t wait to be part of it.

We’ve been regulars at the Thinking Digital Conference for a few years now, attending with a different mix from the team each time. Last year, we also beamed the live stream onto our office wall for those who couldn’t make it in person.

We’re again pretty excited to attend and have spent the entire lunchtime checking out the speakers.

One that jumps out for me is Steve Mould. Explaining complicated ideas in an accessible way is pretty much exactly what we help researchers with in our digital storytelling training. So looking forward to hearing how an experienced broadcaster does his magic in the scientific field.

With our digital storytelling hats on, Christian ‘Documentally’ Payne is another one we’re looking forward to hearing from. We’re particularly intrigued by the work he’s been doing with the Open University on mobile technology and citizen journalism.

Dale Lane‘s work with a question answering computer system also sounds interesting. We do a lot of work around e-learning and look forward to seeing what potential implications his work has on that.

From a purely personal interest point of view, Sean Carasso and Mariana Mazzucato sound intriguing and as an ex-journalist, I’m always interested in hearing from seasoned tech journos like Jemima Kiss and Tom Cheshire.

As a huge fan of piano music, I’m also really looking forward to hearing what Hayley Parkes will be up to.

No doubt there’ll be many others who will wow us and we’re equally excited to meet the people attending.

Our TDC14 delegation will comprise myself, my fellow Voices bloggers and editors Chris and Steve as well as our service manager Will Allen. Come say hi if you’re there too!