What I’ve been reading and thinking about this week: MOOC’S, salad and hailed heroes.

1.) Kernel Mag – The MOOC revolution that never was (http://kernelmag.dailydot.com/issue-sections/headline-story/14046/mooc-revolution-uber-for-education/)

A really interesting article that looks at how and why the MOOC bubble burst. As someone currently trying to break into the online education market this is useful stuff. Sites like Coursera started of with such valiant and large goals but seem now to be admitting defeat. I think Mike Caulfield nails the point when he says “The hard problem isn’t democratizing access to education….” “It’s democratizing access to the perceived benefits of education. That’s a crucial difference.”

The question is how do we get underprivileged kids who have grown up being told that they won’t ever be able to go to college believe that their lives can be improved by a college education? Bridging this gap is no doubt key but very tricky. Personally I think the answer lies in the exact opposite of what the MOOC sites are now doing. People need to be convinced that education is about more than getting  a job or just a means to an end. It is a highly rewarding venture in and of itself that challenges people to become more cognizant in their day to day lives. Having a knowledge of History, Science, Geography – (whatever it may be) – can make us more socially aware and active members of the community. It also no doubt makes people feel good about themselves, and isn’t this the major hurdle in convincing people that they deserve an education?

2.) The Washington Post –  Why salad is so overrated.  (https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/why-salad-is-so-overrated/2015/08/21/ecc03d7a-4677-11e5-8ab4-c73967a143d3_story.html)

As if the picture of ‘the salads’ without the salad weren’t bad enough, Tamar Haspel also builds a factually driven case for the environmentally challenging realities of lettuce production. In an age where the stresses on sustainable farming and ‘eating right,’ have probably never been higher this is important food for thought (apologizes for the pun – I couldn’t help myself!!) I’ve always known that ordering a salad wasn’t necessarily the healthy option but it was still easy to convince myself that eating lettuce is somehow a good thing, after seeing those pictures (and regretting that Applebee’s salad I had a few months ago) I can no longer pretend this is the case!

3.) The 3 Americans, and solo British Hero who stopped a suspected Terrorist in France. (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34034840)

This was a story I couldn’t help but get emotional about. I’m sure lots is still to come out about this incident and the shooters reasoning but I think for everyone when we hear of things like this the first thing that comes to mind is  – What would you do? I’d like to think i’d be up there meeting the threat head on but as the British hero said until your faced with a life or death situation you never really know how you’d react(I also had to laugh at his very English reaction to the event – a real life have a go Harry!) Lets just hope i’m not in town when that earthquake/tsunami hits……

4.) Bear rolling down a hill (http://mashable.com/2015/08/24/grizzly-bear-rolling-down-hill)

This is just awesome!


Looking for feedback!

Hi Guys,

I have been interning at a local production company over the summer working on a youtube channel called, Team Marco Polo academy. The channel began in 2005 and the premise was to create entertaining videos for American kids that would teach them about European History and Culture.  I have been tasked with re-branding the channel for a slightly older audience and making the content more educationally sound .

 The main project I have been working is called ‘Debatables.’ Debatables is an interactive youtube series designed for students currently studying for the AP Euro and World history exams, and anyone with a general interest in history. The format is an informal discussion intended to introduce students to the key debates on a certain topic and encourage them to get into the mindset, and find the sources, to make their own arguments. I wanted to move away from the classic ‘fact telling’ format that is common in education videos and shift the focus to developing critical thinking skills. In the pilot I am discussing with another intern but the plan is to get a different expert as a guest each week to join me.

The pilot is on the French revolution, specifically the reign of Terror.

We currently have two versions – one longer and one cut into bitesize pieces.

It would be great to get feedback on which version you prefer and any comments/critiques more generally.

These are pilots and the animation is not top notch but for now I am primarily looking for feedback on content and concept. Is Debatables something you think would a.) be useful to students b.) engaging and entertaining.

Is there any other video format that you think students may benefit from?

The videos can be found here:

I’m really excited to see where this project could go and I look forward to hearing your thoughts 🙂


Emma’s Blog: The Indy 500. ‘America’s longest race…..’

Last week – August 19th – marked the anniversary of the first race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1909. Now home to the ‘biggest sporting event in the world’ – The Indy 500.

The race track
The race track.

Believe it or not I had the pleasure (and it was a pleasure…trust me) of going to the race this year. Once referred to as ‘the redneck mecca’ the 500 certainly doesn’t have the best reputation in many circles. I had the opportunity to go since my roommate is from Indiana and wanted to share this piece of her home, and history, with me (her family had been going to the race every year for as long as she could remember!)

My roommate and I on race day (this was 6am!)
My roommate and I on race day (this was 6am!)
The 'redneck mecca'
The ‘redneck mecca’

She had warned me that I was in for a culture shock, and seemed to get much enjoyment from the fact that a Brit was coming to this most American of events. I was told to expect lots of beer, lots of American flags, lots of eagles, and few teeth!

The seats were hard, and the ninety-degree heat stifling on my pale British skin, but the atmosphere was electric. I felt every cheer when a favorite took the lead, every concerned gasp when an accident happened, and the tide of genuine support for each and every driver, including those who had no chance of winning.

So what did this most ‘American’ of events teach me about the country I now call my adopted home?

The Indy 500 was a culture shock, but a positive one. Being an immigrant I believe that I am especially attuned to seeing what makes America culturally unique – in particular, the nation’s unswerving attachment to individual sovereignty. This fact is both America’s magic and it’s curse. It creates a country that feels alive, bubbling with the ideas and dreams of daring individuals, but it can also lead to a selfishness and ignorance that is damaging to any society.

But what I saw at the 500 was 300,000 individuals coming together. I cheered the British riders on, people cheered with me. I smiled when the Colombian Montoya screeched to the finish line. I looked around and everyone else was smiling too. We all endured courteously through the squeeze to reach our seats, and we were all so quite that you could hear a pin drop during the 21 gun salute and military flyover.

The Flyover
The Flyover

In the stands

For a country so young America is unashamedly proud of their traditions, history, and nation. I never felt this as strongly as I did at the race. Individuals may not all agree on what it exactly means to be an American, or how their nation should look, but there is consensus that everyone has a right to carve out their own piece of the American dream, and to have their voice heard. There is also a real sense that people will stand up for what they believe in, and that they will also stand up so that others can exercise this same right. This is an attribute important to remember in a time where the continued inequality and oppressions that plague the states have never been clearer.

My time at the race reminded me of America’s biggest achievement – that a nation of fifty very different states continues to strive first and foremost for unity. It was a once in a lifetime experience, and I thank my roommate for sharing it with me.

Yes there’s a lot of beer, there’s a lot of hollering, and I’ll admit, it is full of ‘rednecks,’ but the main thing the 500 has is heart. So does America. An event that I feared would expose all that worried me about this country actually left me with a new understanding of what makes it so great.

Indianapolis, I’ll be seeing you next year!


Hello world!

I’ve always liked to think of myself as atypical, i’ve always liked to surprise people , and i’ve always had strong opinions. This website is my space to show all this.

I created this site both as a place for my work and a platform to share my thoughts and ideas to push myself to create more.

I’ll be blogging about history, film making and the life of a mid-twenties Brit on the path to carving out a life and career in America.

Stories are best when shared. I hope you enjoy the ones I have to tell.