Goodbye, Grandma | Doug Belshaw

At almost exactly the same time as I landed in Toronto yesterday, my grandmother took her last breath. She had her son, my father, at her hospital bedside. Freda Belshaw was 93.

Mourning is an intensely private thing, but celebrating someone’s life — as we shall do at her funeral when I get back home — is a more public affair. People process their grief in various ways, and I’m doing so in the only way I know: by writing about it.

My grandma was a matriachal figure, a large presence in any room. She was not someone to be crossed. More than anyone I’ve ever met, she knew her own mind, had…

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Why I’m not using Twitter next month | Doug Belshaw

TL;DR I’m spending time experimenting with and exploring Mastodon during the month of May. You can connect with me at

Back in 2011, when I’d just discovered Open Badges, I led a semester of learning on the concept. Sometimes it’s not enough to play around the edges; you have to jump in with two feet to understand what something’s about. That immersion confirmed my initial thoughts, and I’ve spent the last six years evangelising and advocating for digital credentials based on that particular open standard.

The same was true back in 2007 when I joined Twitter. I…

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Weeknote 16/2017 | Doug Belshaw

This week I’ve been:
Sending out Thought Shrapnel, my weekly newsletter loosely structured around education, technology, and productivity. Issue #254 was entitled ‘Eggistentialism’
Travelling back from Devon. I flew down to spend Easter with my family, who had travelled down in the car to the in-laws while I was in Northern Ireland. We drove back together via London after climbing Haytor, eating lots of chocolate, and playing PS4 games.
Upgrading my Oneplus One to LineageOS, a fork of the CyanogenMod project. That means I’m now running Android 7.1, so I can lock down my device even more…

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Can digital literacy be deconstructed into learnable units? | Doug Belshaw

Earlier this week, Sally Pewhairangi got in touch to ask if I’d be willing to answer four questions about digital literacy, grouped around the above question. She’ll be collating answers from a number of people in due course but, in the spirit of working openly, I’m answering her questions here.

 1. What are the biggest mistakes novices make when becoming digitally literate?

The three things I stress time and time again in my keynotes, writing, and workshops on this subject are:

Digital literacies are plural
Digital literacies are context-dependent
Digital literacies are…

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Weeknote 15/2017 | Doug Belshaw

This week I’ve been:
Recovering from climbing Ben Nevis and other mountains last weekend. I wrote up that trip, which I made towards getting on the Mountain Leader course, here.
Posting various quotations, most of them from Richard Sennett’s magnificent book Together, to my blog.
Keynoting the Annual Learning & Teaching Conference at Queen’s University Belfast. I presented on The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies and my slides can be found here. It was great to bump into Ibrar Bhatt (who’s just started working at QUB) while I was there!
Spending half of the working…

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Digital Literacy is about power | Doug Belshaw

Today, I keynoted the Annual Learning & Teaching Conference at Queens University Belfast. My title was the same as that of my ebook, The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies, but it included new and updated context.

You can find my slides here, and below:

Due to time constraints, I didn’t go into as much detail as I would have liked in the presentation about the relationship between literacy, and power. I want to rectify by adding a few thoughts in this post.

Every time we say someone is ‘literate’, we’re making a value judgement, and betraying a particular way of…

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Weeknote 14/2017 | Doug Belshaw

This week I’ve been:
Sending out Thought Shrapnel, my weekly newsletter loosely structured around education, technology, and productivity. Issue #253 was entitled ‘Spring has sprung!’
Attending a meeting of the local Scout group’s Executive Committee. Given the concerns I raised about using Facebook as the primary means of communication, it looks like I’ve got a couple of actions relating to the website…
Planning a Creative Commons Summit session with Laura Hilliger. We’ll be over in Toronto running a workshop which aims to forge links between co-ops and the commons.
Hitting publish…

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