Month: January 2021

what do you do all day?


I am sometimes surprised by how passionately academic colleagues will demand to be ‘allowed’ to teach using Teams when for many years they have insisted that only tools designed for educational use were suitable for their pedagogy.

Microsoft sell a lot of software to universities and I am sure they are keen for us to use it in all kinds of ways, a lot.

When the university is considering the future of work and colleagues lobby to stay at home, it is worth getting up to speed on the surveillance tools in business software and reading the fine print of your contract carefully.

Do you have the right to a private life?

Here’s a good podcast:

Virtual Burns Night 2021

a drunk woman looked at a thistle.

I am a fan of Burns night and I’ve hosted a few spirited and toasted lassies.

This year I have invited my teams to a virtual Burns night on Monday.

‘Please bring your favourite poem/ song/dance by Burns or any of his contemporaries or similar Scottish music. Burns was prolific and one of the joys of his work is that you can find a poem or a view from him on just about anything.  If you can find his view on Brexit ‘While Europe’s eye is fix’d on mighty things’, COVID ‘Tae a virus’ , lockdown ‘Here’s friends locked doon on baith sides o’ the firth’, working from home, social distancing ‘Gin a body meet a body, catching Covid, Aye?’,  face coverings ‘Fair fa’ your honest, covered face…’, well-being, hobbies, black lives, sourdough, furlough, home-schooling ‘The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley’,  Teams ‘To see oursels as others see us!’ or elearning  you’ll win a fab prize.’

Haggis is just haggis, a smile is just a smile.

Our virtual Burns Night featured beautiful music performances from Lauren (Wild Mountainside) and Lorraine ( The Silver Tassie), and the suggestion that we all upload pictures of our haggis dinners to Wikipedia.

During the evening a number of lost Burns manuscripts were given their first public performance. A selection is curated below:


Tam O’2020

When chapman billies leave the street
And drouthy neebors video meet
As Waitrose delivery is running late
An’ folk begin to accept their fate;
While we sat boozing at the telly
And getting fou and awfy smelly
We think na on the lang Scots miles.
The fit bit steps we tracked with smiles
That lie between us and our hame
Whare sits our sulky sullen dame
Gathering her brows like gathering storm
Nursing her Deliveroo to keep it warm.

So, Shall Distance

This tale o’ truth  I shall read,
woman and mother’s son take heed;
Whene’er to drink you are inclin’d,
Or social joys run in your mind,
Think! ye may buy joys for now
But wi’ mair pox horrible and awfu’,
Three lawyers says it is unlawfu’.

Argyle Epistle

We think na on the lang Scots miles, 
The mosses, waters, slaps, and styles, 
That lie between us and our hame in argyle house, 
Ah, gentle dames! it gars me greet,  
To think how many counsels sweet,  
How many lengthen’d, sage advices,  
The workers wish the boss, consise is.

Hoppers Lament

That dreary hour she opens Teams in;
On such a night she was online in.
The storm without might rair and rustle,
Karen did na mind the storm a whistle.
Till first ae system, syne anither,
Gave up working  a’ thegither,

And roars out, “Media Hopper doesnae work!”
And in an instant all was dark: 
And scarcely had she Liam rallied, 
When out the hellish legion sallied.

As bees bizz out wi’ angry fyke,
When plundering herds assail their byke;
As eager runs the market-crowd,
When “Catch the thief!” resounds aloud;
So Karen runs, the witches follow,
Wi’ mony an eldritch skriech and hollo.

To LISC  Ah, Karen thou’ll get thy fairin’!
In ITC they’ll roast thee like a herrin’!
And KSC awaits thy commin’!

The Cotter’s  Night Locked In

O Scotia! my dear, my native soil!
For whom my warmest wish to Heaven is sent,
Long may thy hardy staff of IT toil
Be blest with health, and peace, and sweet open content!
And O! may Heaven their simple lives prevent
From covid’s contagion, weak and vile!
Then howe’er crowns and coronets be rent,
A virtuous populace may rise the while,
And stand a wall of fire around their much-lov’d isle.






buffering justice

screen shot of the court set up from public video on SCTS website

I spent some time in January doing jury duty online. I probably could have made a case to be excused but I didn’t want to.

You’ll have heard that there is a massive backlog. By establishing the UK’s first remote jury centres, from September  2020 Scotland  resumed the most serious High Court trials in a covid-secure way.

We, the jury gathered in an out of town cinema to sit, socially distanced, to hear a case via live link to the court, which I think may have been in Glasgow.

The judge reminded us that this is one of the most important things you can do as part of civic society and I can add that it is also a huge credit to the Scottish Courts system that they have managed to digitally transform their operations in this way.

‘These facilities have been specifically designed to provide a safe environment for jurors during the pandemic – and support the administration of justice in relation to the most serious criminal cases.’

I was really impressed with how well organised it was, how safe I felt covid-wise and how immersive and intense the experience was despite the distance.  I might even suggest that since the cinema business may never recover from this pandemic, this set up might be the way forward for jury trials of the future.  The prospect of being crowded in with 14 other people cheek by jowl in a jury box for a week really does not appeal.  The technology and the space afforded by the multiplex made it possible to concentrate fully on the  content and conduct of the trial.

They wouldn’t let me take a picture of the AV kit in the rooms, but It wasn’t  so different from what we are doing for hybrid teaching*.

We each had an individual camera so they could see us, but there is no 2-way audio link between the jury and the court.  That is, they can speak to us and see us, and we can see them, but we cannot speak to the court ( except via our jury wrangler and clerk of court) .

If you get called you should definitely do it if you can.

* My excellent AV team have told me which company it is who are supplying this technology to the Scottish Courts. They are called Sparq. Virtual Court Hearings | Services | Sparq