Tag Archives: learning

OiConf 14

I’ve always quite enjoyed social media and the opportunities it gives for personal interaction in different ways, but over the last couple of years I’ve been trying to get to grips with how I could be using it to grow our business effectively; and with my ‘day-job’ hat on, exploring its role in sharing, promoting and co-producing good practice throughout the public sector.

One thing I’ve found is that it’s really difficult to find accessible social media learning opportunities at the level I need. I’m beyond the various local courses available which introduce Twitter, Facebook and WordPress; and while there are plenty of higher level, in depth courses which I’d love to sign up to, these require a regular commitment and shedloads of cash (£5k for the Community Building course which I have my eye on!) and as things stand, that’s just not feasible. Of course there are free resources galore available online, but sorting the wheat from the chaff takes a while, and to be totally honest, I seem to remember stuff much better when I’m actually taught it, rather than watching a slideshow or a youtube video.

So I’m pretty excited that the Online Influence Conference (Oiconf 14) is back in Cardiff for the third year running. I was lucky enough to get to the  first Oiconf event back in 2012, and it was absolutely brilliant – I learnt shedloads, and it was the first time that I’d really understood what a powerful business tool social media could be. Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to put too much of what I’d learnt into practice straight away because of the specific project I was working on at the time, but I still came away from the day energised and excited, and determined to learn more as and when I could.

And now I can! The lineup for Oiconf  14 is awesome – there are three brilliant keynote speakers lined up, each of whom have achieved a huge amount, with the use of social media being integral to their journeys. Each speaker has an inspirational story to tell, but David Hieatt is someone I’ve long admired from afar for his project to bring jeans manufacturing back to Cardigan, as well as for his vision in creating the Do Lectures.

It’s not just about sitting and listening though – there are masterclasses available for all delegates from experts on Twitter, Brandwatch and Google+. I’m particularly excited about the session on G+ as I just can’t quite get my head around how I should be using it to get the most from it, although I can see that it has the potential to be a very powerful tool for community building. I’m planning to blog what I’ve learnt, so if G+ is a mystery to you too, check back in a few weeks!

However if you work with social media at any level, or even just share a fascination for how it’s changing the way we live our lives on so many levels, I would highly recommend booking yourself a ticket to the event itself. You’ll need to be quick – the last two sold out and my spies tell me that this one is well on the way to doing so also.

Hope to see you there!




Considering Welsh Medium Education?

I’ve noticed (or rather those clever bots at Google Analytics have noticed) that the most popular posts on the blog at the moment are the ones about our experiences of Welsh Medium Education. I guess the folk stumbling upon my witterings are probably researching the choices for their own children, so I thought I’d do a quick summary of the advice I’d give to English speaking families considering Welsh Medium Education.

  • If you think you might choose Welsh Medium Education, then start learning Welsh yourself, now. You will need to understand and be able to read/pronounce at least basic Welsh to be able to support your child in learning to read, and beyond the early days, the more comfortable you are in Welsh, the more help you can be.
  • If both parents can learn, even better. If one never gets round to it, the reading/homework burden will always fall on one person. Just saying!
  • I’m sure you’d never dream of sticking your pre-schooler in front of the telly, but you know,  in case an emergency arises and you’re all out of organic baking ingredients or non-toxic finger paints then stick’em in front of Cyw rather than Beebies. And watch with them – it’s amazing how much you will pick up.
  • Same advice for the iPad – there are lots of Welsh language activities on Cyw that you can do together.
  • Choose Welsh medium childcare – or a bilingual setting at the very least. The more Welsh your son or daughter knows when they start school, the more comfortable they’ll be in an all-Welsh environment.
  • Even if you are not at all sure that Welsh Medium Education will be the route you choose, I’d seriously consider doing all the above in any case. That way you’re keeping your options open for as long as possible, and it’ll be a good grounding for your child since they’ll learn Welsh from day one in an English medium school in any case.
  • It’s very easy to find out about the benefits of bilingual education – and quite hard to find out about possible disadvantages. If I was making the choice again, I’d actively seek out parents who feel that their children have not benefited from being educated in Welsh, to find out what issues they faced and what they did about it. It may or may not have changed my decision, but I’d have felt better prepared for the situation we find ourselves in now with our eldest child.
  • You might well be told, as I was, that children not managing in Welsh and therefore switching to an English school, ‘just does not happen’. Well, it does happen  to some children,  so you may want to think through the implications of changing school at a later date. Particularly if you have a large family. I’d probably switch my eldest to English school right now if he was an only child, but what would going to a different school to his siblings mean to him?
  • When you’re looking at schools, make sure to ask about what additional language support is available to children whose first language is not Welsh. Also, ask where the trigger point is for accessing this support, and, importantly if there is flexibility in this.    If your child doesn’t take to Welsh like a duck to water, you need to know that you’ll be able to identify and act on this as early as possible, and with the support of your chosen school.


So, just some things to think about if Welsh is not your family language, but you are considering Welsh Medium Education for your children. It’s not meant to be a comprehensive guide, just a reflection of the advice I’d give now I’m four years into the journey. There may be more to add as time goes by!

As always, your comments/thoughts/suggestions are more than welcome, here or via @learnermother – thank you/diolch!


On what I’ve learnt in 6 months…

Six months today since I took my iPad to my biggest boy’s climbing session, holed up in a corner of the cafe, and set up LearnerMother on a WordPress site. I’d blogged before in a work capacity, but never anything personal, and I really didn’t know how it would pan out, whether I’d enjoy it, whether it’d be even feasible to write regularly given that free time just doesn’t happen to me. But here I am, six months on, which seems a good point to take stock of what I’ve learnt and to think about where I want LearnerMother to go from here.

Here’s my blogging observations…

  • First and foremost, people are incredibly generous with their help. I’ve asked the most basic questions on Twitter, sometimes several times in a row because I didn’t understand the answers the first time, and someone has always taken the time to help me. When I decided to go self-hosted, I ended up in a real pickle, but people were so quick to reassure and advise that the process was much less stressful than it could have been. I hope that I’ll be able to repay the favour, just as soon as I know the difference between DNS and URL. Or perhaps I should stick to offering help of a less technical nature, in case I end up collapsing the internets. In any case – THANK YOU if you were one of the many folk to help me!
  • I don’t write about our family activities as much as I thought I would. This is because I can’t imagine anyone being interested in them – however one of the reasons I started blogging was to provide a shared memory bank for our kids in future years. I also quite enjoy reading about other families’ activities as it gives me ideas for what to do with the kids, so the lack of family posts is something I’m going to rectify over the next six months – please don’t feel obliged to read if you don’t want to!
  • I’m not sure how my kids will feel about the blog as they get older, or whether it’s even fair to be blogging about them at that point. I guess it’s something I need to review on an ongoing basis.
  • Being an ‘out’ (ie not anonymous) blogger comes with responsibilities. Several posts have been discarded half way through writing because, although they are amusing/worthy of comment, the adults or kids featuring in them could potentially be identifiable within our local community. Not that the posts are necessarily negative, but I figure it’s my responsibility to err on the side of caution. If anyone feels that I have overstepped the line, it goes without saying to call me out on it.
  • Being an ‘out’ blogger is definitely not as therapeutic as being anonymous would be!
  • I think I need to be a bit braver in writing about stuff that matters to me. I have held my tongue on my (extremely ranty) thoughts on certain issues, from religion to second home ownership, because I am wary of offending friends and family, who make up a fair chunk of my readers. Which is a bit daft really, since if I was sitting opposite them with a beer I’d most likely feel comfortable in disagreeing with them and leaving the pub still friends. I am going to try and have the courage of my convictions from now on.
  • Stats are great, and it is nice when a post gets retweeted and shared, and generates discussion. But when I’m thinking that I need to write a post on holiday so that I keep my page views up, then I’m taking myself and my blog too seriously.
  • There are too many great blogs out there to keep up with them all; I have to limit myself to my favourites or I’d never get off the computer. In no particular order, hese are the ones I read without fail: Mummy Never Sleeps, Premmeditations, Living with MND, Dr Kate Granger, Be Brave and Look Up, Mumblings on the Verge, Ojo’s World, Free Falling into 40, My Daft Life, Motherventing, MammyWoo. An eclectic bunch – check them out if you haven’t already -they all make excellent reading.
  • I have a long way to go to write well. It’s (whisper it) eighteen years since I wrote anything for academic purposes, and although I like to think I was good with words back then, it’s going to take me some practice to get back into writing to a decent standard. Reading through old posts, I overuse certain words and phrases, I drift away from my point, and sometimes it is horribly obvious that I’ve wrapped up and hit the publish button because I’m being overtaken by sleep, rather than because I have finished what I want to say.
  • But – I have rediscovered that I love to write, even more than I knew. It doesn’t matter what the subject matter is – I find the process of starting with an idea, and creating a post around it, incredibly satisfying. So I’m going to use the next year to try and work out how I might be able to integrate this into my – ahem – portfolio career. Any pointers gratefully received!

So there you have it – that’s what I’ve learnt in 6 months. Enough to know that LearnerMother is well worth the effort, for me at least – you may disagree! In any case, thank you for bearing with me as I’ve mumbled and bumbled on…and hope you’ll come back for more!