Learning to teach online; NUJ freelance training going ahead on 1 and 15 May

Three weeks ago today, with two weeks of my data journalism module left to teach, Birkbeck announced that Covid-19 meant it was shifting immediately from face-to-face to online teaching. The good news was that it had software in place to facilitate this. The bad news was that I had no experience of using it and a guest lecturer booked for the following Tuesday.

It worked out fine, mainly because the Guardian’s data projects editor Caelainn Barr did such a brilliant job of explaining her work to her laptop rather than a group of students. Along with a further online class last week, some great Birkbeck training sessions and advice from David Thomas, I have had a crash course in teaching online.

As a result, my NUJ training courses First steps in freelancing on Friday 1 May and Winning and negotiating freelance business on Friday 15 May will take place online. They will include the same material, discussion and experience-sharing as usual, but rather than you coming to London, these courses can come to you via the increasingly-ubiquitous Zoom platform. The NUJ has reduced its usual prices, so the cost for First Steps in freelancing is £40 for full members and £30 for students.

If one or both of these courses sound useful, why not join me in acquiring some new skills?

Full details and booking for NUJ First steps in freelancing, 1 May

Full details and booking for NUJ Winning and negotiating freelance business, 15 May

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Covid-19 coronavirus in England mapped by cases per million

Good to see that a team including George Bennett at the BBC and Leo Falcomer-Dawson at Bloomberg have set up Covid Live UK, a similar population-adjusted map covering all of the UK rather than just England, updated daily. Nice to note the organisers eventually came to the same conclusion that I did, which is that shades of blue are the way to go.
Continue reading “Covid-19 coronavirus in England mapped by cases per million”

EU Settlement Scheme needs to level-up locally

It would be nice if all data was easily comparable and highly accurate, but it’s not. Office for National Statistics numbers on nationality of people in local authority areas are rounded to the nearest thousand to reflect the fact they are survey-based estimates. The ONS recently pointed out a range of problems involved in comparing this dataset to Home Office data on applications to the EU Settlement Scheme.

I still made these comparisons for PublicTechnology, because the differences between areas are huge. Excluding Irish citizens (who generally don’t need to apply to stay in the UK post-Brexit), the number of applications to the EU Settlement Scheme is equivalent to about three-quarters of 3.6 million European citizens in the UK. But for Bassetlaw in Nottinghamshire and Sevenoaks in Kent, it is around one-quarter.

Map of EU Settlement Scheme applications and non-Irish European populations Continue reading “EU Settlement Scheme needs to level-up locally”

How to build democracy with technology away from elections

There is a lot to be said for a British general election. It is brutally fast in delivering the people’s verdict. It uses technology that everyone can understand and is impossible to hack remotely. And in returning to Rick Wakeman’s prog-rock classic, the BBC has given it back its theme music.

But elections alone are a pretty thin form of democracy. Those who shifted from Labour to vote Conservative did so because of Jeremy Corbyn, because of the party’s far-left manifesto, because of Brexit, because they like Boris Johnson or a mix of these and others. The reasons will come out in surveys and interviews, but aren’t a formal part of the results and the government can ignore them. Continue reading “How to build democracy with technology away from elections”

How cloud computing helped one university to digitise the student experience

Article by SA Mathieson, Guardian Labs, (The Connected University series paid for by Staffordshire University), 4 December 2019

Until recently, a university that wished to remind students about lectures, answer their questions around the clock and provide personalised suggestions on which societies to join would have needed a call centre of support staff working shifts. Staffordshire University is now providing all of these services and others through its app, Beacon, a digital coach for students available on mobile devices accessed through voice and text. Continue reading “How cloud computing helped one university to digitise the student experience”