Paul Richards

Paul Richards

Open University associate lecturer on M250 (Java programming). Software developer. married with two children. Newcomer to educational technology.

Location Telford, United Kingdom


  • I quite liked the Second Life videos on TOE. Having said that, I can't imagine using them in my own tutoring. There is too much investment in getting to know and use the platform, and my institution already provides Adobe Connect.

  • Technology and AI will become more pervasive and many jobs will become obsolete. MOOCs will be a valuable tool in reskilling people in these jobs e.g. taxi despatchers, travel agents, manufacturing workers.

  • I am not a professional researcher and don't use twitter so this was a little bit like meaningless speculation to me. I am a heavy user of Facebook and enjoy making social connections that way but I chose early on not to dilute myself with multiple social media accounts.

  • This was a long-winded article which I felt lacked rigour in that it made assertions which were mostly backed up by anecdotal evidence. However there were some interesting points e.g. the iterative nature of the material shared in NPS. This allows others to participate in research as it happens, not just at the conclusion of the work.

  • “White male voices, offline as well as online, signal authority in a culture steeped in sexism and racism. The online very often reproduces and amplifies what occurs offline." - this is in itself a sexist and racist comment.

  • "The online network an academic establishes can be as important, if not more so, than their physical network within their institution" - I am not surprised as in many institutions an academic might be amongst only a small number of people with a particular research interest, perhaps even the only one - whereas online there will be a larger network of...

  • Some things on my map were precise, e.g. I am definitely a resident on Facebook and use it only for personal. Adobe Connect is only institutional and I am a visitor.

    However I use google as both a resident a visitor and both work and home. So that exists in 3 areas (I am not a resident in Google at work!).

  • As White says, its a continuum and people move around it sometimes. Some people do compartmentalise their lives and I have come across people who are residents using a pseudonym, so they compartmentalise that part of their life.

  • I am a resident on Facebook, I use it quite heavily. I think that residents also go into visitor mode at specific times, e.g. I use whatsapp to communicate with other students.

  • Isn't there a contradiction between representing an institution and the views being your own? This is a legal thing to limit their liability, perhaps.

  • I looked at a couple - from the Open University and University of Bath. Both seemed quite common sense. They also stressed protecting the professional reputation of the institution. I believe that is the chief role of policies - they are there as an official document if communication becomes problematic and the institution needs to intervene.

  • @NicholaWest I am probably quite different with you in that I tend to over-share. Sometimes I wonder if your cautious way is better.

  • Would those rules be useful though? There are crossovers, for example you can present part-finished work or work which has only just begun at some face-to-face academic conferences.

  • I find that my life (in common with many others) consists of a series of separate yet interconnected identities - software developer, tutor, husband, parent, social group member. Social media tends to be the space in which all of these identities converge. So I can identify with the concept of competing identities.

  • I agree, as long as I am not identifiable as an individual (and aggregation achieves that), I don't mind.

  • I am interested in Farrow's source for his claim "UK law guarantees the right to take photographs in a public place". My understanding was that there is no such law, but that there isn't a law against it (except in some restricted circumstances). I have been subject to intimidation from people who were accidentally caught up in my photos - some people really...

  • An interesting video. I like the takeaway messages at the end. When researching online, start with the assumption that ethical guidelines from offline research apply. But then consider whether there are extra issues e.g. this is a private group or individuals can become identifiable through triangulation. I guess if you are researching as part of an...

  • In 1796 Edward Jenner deliberately infected an 8 year old boy (James Phipps) with cowpox (a mild disease), and then smallpox. The boy survived because cowpox confers smallpox immunity. Spectacularly successful but horrendously...

  • This is anecdotal but my experience is that in the IT world people respect knowledge of how to solve problems more than the acquisition of academic qualifications. Sometimes academia is seen as not that relevant as there are a lot of IT/computing graduates who don't have the aptitude to work in the industry, and people with degrees in other subjects (or no...

  • I love the specificity

  • What are the motivations/goals of learners studying MOOCs in programming/coding? I think this would be 'Case-study research'. I am interested in learning if they are doing it for careers, personal interest, or both. And if it is career, do they use coding within their current job or are they planning a change? Or perhaps they are already students doing a...

  • "Correlation does not imply causation" - very true!

  • What useful strategies can be employed in programming MOOCs to enable learners to debug their code successfully?

  • Good point. If something isn't making a 'knowledge claim', and the article is honest that it is an opinion piece, what is wrong with that?

  • Good point about the Masterman article not explaining what Storify is.

  • Both articles are non-empirical opinion pieces, with no real 'hard' evidence other than anecdotes. I thought the Masterman one was better because it compared Storify to another platform so you could highlight differences, it included quotes from users, and it wasn't all text - there were some images.

  • Besemer et al states that children of criminals are significantly more likely (2.4 times) to exhibit criminal behaviour (CB):

    "On average, children with criminal parents were at significantly higher risk for CB compared with children without criminal parents (pooled OR =...

  • @TerriRees "more likely" and "isn't always" are not mutually exclusive. I'll do a search for some evidence tonight. A bit outside of the area of H880 but I appreciate your desire not to stereotype and your desire for evidence.

  • @TerriRees I am only suggesting that people are probably more likely to engage in criminality if their friends/family/peers do it, as it is a learned behaviour. You certainly can't assume anything about the circle of contacts of a person with a conviction.

  • I would hope that short video has closed captions @NikkiSwales :)

  • I looked at the Youtube guidelines. It seems very user-friendly, for example you can upload a file for captions. So you could provide a transcript as text separate to the video but then use this as a basis for your own closed captions.

    In my own tutoring I utilise Adobe Connect. Most of my students are very shy and not interactive, I can never get anyone...

  • I think accessibility is important even if there is only one disabled learner. There might be only one disabled learner because, historically, it wasn't accessible! These things are time consuming but making reasonable adjustments is necessary. Leona could have personas for people with mental health difficulties, dyspraxia, visual difficulties as well as...

  • I guess these people find it difficult/impossible to engage in education and it reduces their opportunities. Then, particularly if their family and the people around them are habitual criminals, it becomes almost an inevitability for them. So for some of these people, education is the way out?

  • You could be innovative in the way that you make the learning experience accessible. This article "7 Innovations That Are Transforming Accessible Technology" gives examples, e.g. "groundbreaking multi-line braille machine called the Canute"

  • Time is a big issue for me:
    • I have a full-time demanding job as a senior software developer.
    • I am a part-time associate lecturer (AL) for the Open University (OU).
    • I also monitor the work of other ALs.
    • I am studying the OU course H880 on TEL.
    • As part of H880, I am doing this MOOC.
    On top of all that, I have a child with ADHD/autism and...

  • I remember many years ago reading an article encouraging people to make their text on websites a variable font, not a fixed font. If it is variable people could then use their browser settings to make the text larger if they have sight problems. However the irony is that particular article used a fixed font, so when I experimented by zooming in it didn't...

  • I tutor on a programming course and this is an activity requiring lots of practice so I feel the learning should be active rather than passive. A mix of isolated and social styles is appropriate since learners have to understand abstract concepts and this is (in my experience) often best done on your own when you are focussed. However bugs and errors are...

  • I am only experienced with providing online tutorials on a programming course using the Adobe Connect platform. I try to make it as interactive as possible using chat, web resources, and polls/quizzes. The main sources of information so far have been internal training delivered to staff by my organisation (Open University) but I have now gone beyond this by...

  • There is a larger version of that amazing diagram at:

  • Vanessa would ideally need plenty of feedback from educators and peers, since although perfection is an admirable goal, it is rarely attainable in reality. The course could embed social media into it since Vanessa is skilled in this area it could be a good way for her to communicate. Since time pressures are an issue then the course would need to be flexible...

  • This person would require the ability to study at their own pace (wherever possible) and to mix bursts of intense activity with time away. The course should help them to keep track of their progress so they can easily see where they have left it.

  • Name: Saul Pritchard
    Gender: Male
    Age: 46
    Lives in: UK with a family of 2 older children and a wife. Both children have difficulties (ADHD/ADD and autism). One has challenging behaviour. Saul and his wife both suffer from depression.
    Likes: computer science, programming, puzzles, adult/distance education
    Education and experience: Bachelors degree and...