Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Caribbean meets Atlantic

Airfields don't get much prettier than this. I'm in the British Virgin Isles (BVI) to help their education team a little. With the progress we are making in the Cayman Isles the whole region is noticing, and excited. Since the caibbean is built on community, ingenuity and stability it is potentially a very exciting region for learning, isn't it?. At this Beef Island airfield planes land right where the Atlantic meets the Caribbean. Geography fans will be noting characteristically conical volcanic shapes that make up islands out here.

Between June and September we are in hurricane season - and I'm here in July, so many boats are tucked well away in lagoons inland. It is rather strange to be driving along inshore and to suddenly see clusters of tall sailboat masts behind trees!

Fish n chips in Miami

...and as you see the chaps here have not quite got the hang of it. No chips! But on the other hand lots of lemons. Must be a new world healthy version? Or maybe not - i didn't risk the luminous sauces.

I'm sitting here nibbling the above in a South Beach marina and looking out on the boats (no surprise there then). Nearest to me is a smallish fishing boat but with three whopping 300hp engines (3 of them!!!) so either the fish here are jolly big (eg whales, Kraken etc) or the local gentlemen have some other (ahem) hobby. Where are Crockett and Tubs when you need them? Mind you, they were driving a Ferrari on a police salary so maybe everyone here does a bit of "fishing" - or is this a just case of life aping fiction?

Friday, 27 July 2007

Bar ceiling. . .

Now, it IS rare to be staring up at a bar ceiling but still stone cold sober (which I am).

But divers + sailors in, visitors to, and travellers across, the Caribbean all habitually celebrate their stay with painted driftwood, rocks and so on. Hence me and my phone looking up at this ceiling of the Beach Nuts Good Time Bar on Little Cayman (pop 150).

It's tough work but. . .

Some might think that working out here is just another day in paradise.

Well, it IS hard work, the days ARE long, the planning IS ambitious. But on the other hand this is the view from the room we were working in yesterday and are working in today. Yes, that is a coral reef in the backgriound. Yes the water is that blue.

Hmmm - you decide....

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Sunrise. . .

Wherever you are in the world, getting up for a jog at dawn and watching the sunrise is pretty special. But when the sun is Caribbean and the route is along the shore on a deserted 7 Mile Beach on Grand Cayman... and the sand around your feet is white and fluffy, it really doesn't get any better. I arrived here proper tired and went straight into a meeting of course - but this view and this place has a way of re-charging batteries PLUS I had some tasty fish for supper last night.

Not that my running is getting any quicker - but it seems rude to rush along such a tranquil beach (luckily for me!). And just to make me feel at home there was a spectacular thunderstorm last night and so we had a rainbow at dawn today.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Stop! But how?

All the waterside restaurants (seen along the opposite bank in this phonepicture) at Singapore's Boat Quay employ rather assertive touts to encourage you to dine. They don't work because their assertiveness frighten everyone away, me included. A national debate ensues.

Research shows that only 1 of every 13 approached actually paused, and a lot less than that finally dine. Everyone has the same "touting" regime even though it fails. People, including precious tourists, are now going elsewhere. Better alternatives have sprung up. But the cafes still do it because everyone else does it, wrong or not. Meanwhile the business goes downhill, seats are empty. Recognise any parallel with school design?

I fl;y back from Singapore tonight - to go to the Cayman Isles, of whom I am very fond (they are doing wonderful things, from new school designs onwards, in education) - that's further than Sydney to London!! and no fish n chips on board either, even in the posh seats.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Singapore school orchestra

In Singapore to do the closing Keynote for a big Pacific Rim conference on Future Learning design. At the conference dinner (yum) the Chinese instrument orchestra from Victoria School played - wonderfully. As they played I reflected that schools all have the blueprint for mixed age, project based, ambitious, collaborative, not-time-limited, start early finish late, learning - it is right there in their orchestras, sports teams, drama clubs and so on. And you only had to look at this orchestra to see how engaging it can be, and how good. This instrument is played with drum sticks, by the way...

Singapore really does understand ingenuity, ambition, globality, hard work, community and team spirit. Their movement to take the curriculum "beyond Content" started 10 years ago (coincedentally when I was here with the early digital-video-in-learning work that became Edu-Quest). And EVERY learner has an overseas experience as part of EACH phase of their learning.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Creative accounting?

I'm doing some really fascinating work with the accountancy profession exploring just what 21st C leadership and career progression/s really mean today in 2007.

When professions built on constancy and integrity (just look at semiotics of the entrance porch!!) embrace the changing 21st C with such clear understanding, you really do know that the world is changing, and changing seismically.

They are a really interesting bunch to work with as well - full of ideas and (obviously) smart too. I like them.

Friday, 20 July 2007


Meeting old friend from Tasmania - Peter Lelong - this evening in a (blissfully smoke free) pub we chatted about learning technolgy, Tasmania, innovation and stuff (and Tasmania really do know their innovation - and their sailing - I'm pleased to say - so it was a hugely enjoyable chat).

When an Aussie says he'll meet you in a pub and he has something with a huge capacity waiting it is hard not to think beer glass - or perhaps in my case, tum - but in this case it was his jolly faithful iPod and he has chatted his way around the world gaining and sharing some wonderful insights on the way with it.

You see, everyone IS a broadcaster.

Countdown to Harry

I am impressed by this lot camping out in rain and horrid weather to be first(ish) to read the final Harry Potter when it goes on sale at midnight. These fans were here two heroic days before!. At least they are getting some mega-media attention. and this on one of the wettest July days ever (the shop let them in and dried them out during the worst of the downpours). At breakfast time the queue goes round the block here in Piccadilly. I will def feel quite guilty in my warm breakfast meeting down the road!

STOP PRESS! By midnight there were around 7,000 potterologists (!) in the HUGE queue at Waterstones in Piccadilly alone - and they were rating it the best ever Harry Potter launch queue party. A whole generation of children growing up this passionate about reading is perfect isn't it? What will JKR write next for them??

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Proms 2007

Went to the Proms this week in the fab Albert Hall - with an eclectic bunch including friends from the BBC, David Blunkett, and of course Carole. Berio's Sinfonia was barking - and fun - but that added 5th movement was surely a mistake!. And i sat through the Rossini Stabat Mater thinking what a shock THAT must have been in 1830whatever.

The Proms are a really rather lovely institution, like fish and chips in many ways. Quite British. Rather nice. Makes you thirsty. Luckily we were in a box and had wine.

The Inclusion Trust

A meeting this morning of the board of the Inclusion Trust - our flagship project of course is the uniquely effective Nostchool.net for those children excluded from school by circumstances or behaviour. I chair the trust with fellow trustees here today Nicholas Summers and Nigel Paine (John Rudkin was elsewhere) and some of the key Inclusion Trust team Jean, Jonnie and Carole - you can see Lys in the picture too.

BUT I only posted this photo cos I can't remember a time when EVERYONE at the same meeting had matching shirts (!) - in this case, all black!

Monday, 16 July 2007

BBC outside broadcasts

It is always amazing to reflect on the huge complexity of an outside broadcast - in this case by the incomparable BBC with infinite wires and countless vans. Interesting to think that I'll be broadcasting video from MY phone live before long. It won't replace OB but it will be pretty cool. How will you watch the Olympics? A few edited clips or the unstoppable flow and commentary from a knowledgeable fan?

Friday, 13 July 2007

Our pit man Bill is 60 !

And so quite a few of the Cracker crew and Bill's (extended!) family are all seen here (slightly out of focus, but I'm not sure that is the phonecamera's fault...) celebrating his birthday at La Dolce Vita on the Hamble. A lot better than fish and chips to be honest. It's Friday 13th though, so who knows what may yet happen. . . .

Pocketable, affordable, personal

Somewhere round September there will be some extraordinary little devices appearing - perfect for schools, pockets, leaners....

To wet appetites I snapped this in S E Asia - phones and PDAs scattered amongst the coffee cups linking to whatever network is handy, a hint of what is to come. . . schools and VLEs need to plan for this now. The new devices are too cool to power-down, even for school!

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Fish n Chips

I've enjoyed this yummy fish dish everywhere from Hobart to Whitby. But it never tastes better than on board a raceboat at the end of a long day as the sun starts to set. And the lemon helps with the Five-a-day too (doesn't it?)

Monday, 9 July 2007

Easy to take for granted

Early morning in and around Parliament. Last late meeting at BAFTA on Piccadilly. Another day in and around London's icons. Sometimes it's nice to just stop, look and enjoy.

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Never to young to Skype. . .

Barely a week old but with Dad just starting the World Sailing Championships in Cascais a girl has to say goodnight so Skype and gurgle seems to cover it. It's a wonderful world. . .

Thursday, 5 July 2007

CLCs and BSF Research...?

I have often said that BSF (Building School for the Future) needs a decent research budget of around 3-4% - what other £60bn industry has zero research - and at a time of such change?

But there is wonderful national network of City learning Centres - and each one could (indeed often are) tasked with testing new learning approaches and engaging schools in the opportunity to try them out. If the CLCs were Research Learning Centres (RLCs) and tied much more closely into both the BSF and the 14-19 Skills agenda, then we would have really have fulfilled a big need.