Friday, 3 July 2015

Massively Open Online Courses, motivation and learning styles

So I did this a while back but never posted about it (yes I am trying to be better at blogging again!) This certificate above is the results of me chucking a lot of hard work at this MOOC (Masively Open Online Course) It was a 20 week course on the MOOC platform EDx with this course being based on a module available in real life at MIT.

I've attempted 2 other MOOCs before, one on Embedded systems by University of Austin and also recently one on Engineering design, but the one above "An introduction to Aerospace Engineering Astronautics and Human Spaceflight" is the only one I stuck with and finished. I got thinking about why this might be today, as I listened to a podcast from where someone was discussing a MOOC and what motivated them.

For me, the Aerospace engineering  MOOC was the best organised and well planned MOOC I have taken part in for various reasons. It was organised into various subject areas, starting with rocket science and the Tsiolosky rocket equation as well as hybrid and solid fuel systems etc. It moved through ECLSS (environmental controls and life support systems) focussing on the ISS (international space station) as a fascinating example. It had a large complex section section of orbital mechanics which was in some ways the most challenging for me in terms of the maths involved. It also had sections on EVH (space walks) and had 2 large sections around control systems and systems safety which culminated in having to write and submit for peer review an Air Accident Report about a real aerospace accident.

So on reflection there was a good few reasons why I kept my motivation on this one... Firstly I went "public" with it early on.. as in I tweeted (@concreted0g) and Facebook posted and told people in real life that I was doing it.. adding possible ego crushing embarrassment if I failed/dropped out! However, linked to this, it also led me to be included in a community of learning.  I ended up conversing with 3 or 4 people directly via twitter who where working through this course at the same time as me. For me and learning I realise this inclusion in a community (virtual or other) is important. EDx also has online discussion boards and I did use these but mainly to discuss technical questions and seek clarifications. One of the nice things about my interactions with learners outside of EDx was they where less formal (there was a lot more... OMG this delta v calculation for this orbital transfer is f###ing hard!!)

I'd say the second factor that kept me going was also the pace and the structure of the course, it really suited me in terms of the units where around 2/3 weeks each and had timed assessment parts (either embedded questions in the website or as I said before peer reviewed paper) another MOOC I did was self timed in that you could do the assessed pieces at any time in course which simply doesn't work for me!

Finally.. what the MIT people did very well was they created a consistent narrative linking each unit to the previous and the next and showing as best they could real world purpose for the subject. In my work life I design and deliver various types of experiential training packages and this is something I seek to do in all my designs. One of the other MOOCS I mentioned I just plundered the sections I needed for the learning I wanted and then ignored the rest whereas as this course had a cohesive narrative that had me completely engaged. 

Last thing.. the statistics around this MOOC were amazing! I feel pretty chuffed to be in the 245 who managed to get the verified certificate out of this cohort of 12542!

  • Final enrollment: 12,542
  • Countries represented: 151 (highest enrollments in United States, India, United Kingdom, Spain)
  • Verified certificates issued: 245
  • Honor code certificates issued: 640

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Cannybots camera video

Cannybot Camera! from concretedog on Vimeo.

So at liverpool make fest I met the Cannybots people and we decided to attach my gopro knockoff onto the top of a cannybot!

Quick project.. Milling table

So I bought a milling machine over a year ago and in my rush to get going plonked it on top of a rubbish wooden box in my shed and started using it. Recently I've done quite a bit with it and it was becoming to uncomfortable to work with as it was to low. I was given some scrappy Dexion which is a great steel angle section that's like grown ups mechano!

 I bought one of these cheap mitre saws "evo fury 3b" the carbide tipped blade makes short work of this steel.

A few nuts and bolts later and it's starting to look more table like..

The rusty metal got a gloopy lick of hammeright... came up quite well I thought..
In position with the mill fitted.. I knew I was going to fit the mill off centre, it's to allow clearance and travel for the mill table. It's much better to work at now in terms of height and comfort. I could do with a more solid shed though to attach it to to increase the rigidity!

Monday, 29 June 2015

Liverpool maker fest 2015

Had a trip up to Liverpool to check out the Liverpool Make Fest last Saturday.. was a great day out. Brilliant to catch up with lots of people and met many of my twitter tweeps. It was a fantastic venue in Liverpool Central Library and seemed to be extremely well put together with a really interesting and diverse selection of people and projects represented. Here is a random collection of photos from the day in no particular order!

Central library is such a great venue. There was a lovely moment where we stopped and had a sandwich and the kids pulled books of the shelves and had a read!

The mighty  Ben from Mearm and Phenoptix... really nice to meet for the first time irl.

Cannybots.. doing really well and attracting lots of attention.. we had fun attaching my sj4000 camera to the top of one whilst it raced!

Biglesp... a mighty raspberry pi warrior and lovely chap to boot.

clip together bugs were built courtesy of hac manchester table

Twas a busy day


Best lasercutter company and best lasercutter company name!

Diy lego underwater rov workshops

conductive dot to dot pcb minecraft mashup with the brilliant Rachel Raynes and Ben Nuttall

A new project Petduino from Circuitbeard..

Some fascinating companies... draw and code were showing their multi player multi tech aug reality gaming stuff.. V COOL!

Monday, 22 June 2015

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Newcastle Makerspace

So had a little trip to Newcastle for some work last week (Normally don't do work on here but I was delivering my new business resilience innovation program 'innoblocks' if interested follow @innoblocks on twitter)

Whilst there I managed to sneek a trip into Newcastle Makerspace and check out the wonderful space and community they have there.
I was lucky to end up visiting on a wednesday evening when they have a public opening evening. It was really nice and busy and extremely friendly and welcoming. They were totally happy for me to have a good look round etc.

So they have a city centre building with 2 main rooms, one which is project tables and 3dprinters and appears to be a bit of a cleaner working space and another room which has the lasercutter, and subtractive messier stuff, a nice lathe, bandsaw, pillar drill sanders and grinders etc. There's a third room with a library and computer desks and a lot of electronics test kit and then finally a kitchen and some storage areas. Here's some pics.. If you're ever in Newcastle, drop in and check em out, as I say, like (most makerspaces/hackspaces I've visited) they're darn friendly!

3dprinters making more 3d printers, mainly repraps but some makerbots too... over 20 in their network now!

Nice lab with library and computers and test equipment.

Some nice vintage space stuff on the walls :)

Hack stickers for material/stuff management!

Nice lathe retrofitted with interlocks etc.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

More Shed antics

More of a catchup post this one following on from the last post where I started this clamp setup.(Note you can click the images to view them a bit larger) I've done a bit more and made a couple more bits for it and it can now function as a dti stand for both my finger an plunger type dti's. It's still a work in progress though as I plan to make a few more pieces for it.. I quite fancy making a pair of jewellers vice to go with it and a couple of other bits. The big block it's using as a base is a bit rough and ready mainly as it is a aluminium block I opencast and then cleaned up a bit on the lathe and mill. Its cleaned up enough to have a flat base and top and 2 parallel sides meaning it can be held in a vice etc. The smaller base threads onto the larger base with an m6 thread which is compatible to all my clamping and tee nuts etc on the milling machine.

I also did another quick project out of the harold hall book today, I made a pair of parallels. Up until now whenever I've needed parallels I've always just used a couple of pieces cut from the same bar stock but I have some projects coming up which will require a bit more accuracy.

To buy parallels is quite expensive but, if bought, parallels tend to be precision ground from hardened steel so they are tougher and have astonishing tolerances. The Harold Hall book though suggests that parallels out of softer material (in this case en1a mild steel) are just as useful if treated with a bit more care. The process below is a method to reduce inaccuracies in the tramming of my case with a fixed column on my mill, it's not too bad. The first phase is you turn 2 similar(ish) diameters and centre hole them and bolts them roughly level on an angleplate set up on the mill. When turning these pieces you turn a thinner diameter on one end of each piece to be placed against the angle plate which means you can do the next stage without milling into the angleplate.

You then machine across the 2 diameters attached to the angle plate just enough that you have a flat section across the face of them. This face should be exactly at 90 degrees to the cutting face.

So the above picture shows the next phase, you clamp the 2 pieces you are going to make the parallels from to the angle plate making sure they are pressed firmly onto the flats you created. You then mill across the pair in one pass then you reclamp the pieces to mill the other side surfaces.. tis means that the first milled faces will be placed onto the flats and then the subsequent cuts should be parallel to the first side. I need to take them somewhere with a decent height gauge but Harold Hall reckons you can get them to within 0.02mm using this method. Which will do for me. Final note.. I stamped these 2 pieces as a pair 1A and 1B (mainly so I don't mistake them for just a bit of metal!) but I guess it's a good idea incase make another pair that are similar sized (but not the same). I also stamped the pieces before milling them as stamping into them might make some small deformations in size if you do it after.