Women can’t do things that men do

…, or says stock imagery sites.

Since becoming a Senior Instructional Designer we’ve worked exceptionally hard to make sure our modules appear to the represent the global audience that learns with us.

However often when we’re trying to make our pages more appealing, we have to turn to image libraries to help us either make a point, or to just make the page more appealing, so we turn to stock photos.

This sounds fine until you begin to realise that certain stock libraries may only show a particular reflection of life to you. Please try the following searches out, on your stock library, we’re using Adobe stock for today as it’s easy to use and often the most forgiving when adding in extra keywords.

(P.s., for the woke people of the world, this will frustrate, I promise)

Try searching for sailor… then sailor woman.. what did you notice?

Did one show more flesh and one show more authoritative figure? Obviously the call for sailor imagery in our modules is pretty low, however I hope it highlights the underlying bent of the image searches we make.

A screenshot of the search, “sailor woman” from pixabay

Search for business deal… what did you notice?

Any particular skin colours showing more than others? Any particular sex more than others?

Finally, try searching for muslim government, what do you see?

Why the mix of pictures relating to government, then why guns and refugees being turned away?

What about the related keywords from when you search for, “muslim government” in pixabay? (2019, May 5th – this was added)

Muslim government search shows, “Riot Violence Revolution Unrest Protest”

Christian government related search shows, “Cross Jesus Church Catholic Government”

Our team works very hard to show a positive reflection of a global society and of our learners. To make that happen with a stock photos system that may show a rather different reflection to what we want, our searches add on other keywords to help us break free from a particular, stereotypes and tropes.

Please see below how we alter our work by adding in some frankly blunt keywords,

  • Stock photo choices should majorly attempt to prioritise photos of women. That is not always possible, but if we push for it normally, the balance of sex and genders will be more properly represented.
    • Try adding, “woman”, “clothed”, “success”
  • Stock photo choices should majorly attempt to prioritise, or include someone (or a group) who is not white skinned. That is not always possible, but if we push for it normally, the balance of skin colours will be more properly represented across a whole module,
    • Try adding these keywords, “mixed race”, “black”, “turban”
  • Stock photo choices should look to actively  include, and possibly re-hash imagery to positively include muslims. People actively taking part in the activity other than violence or shopping
    • Try adding, “Niqābs business”, “Thobe deal”, “muslim business”, “muslim woman business”

Obviously this is a larger discussion than I’ve covered above, but I hope it shows how we are actively doing our best to use positive imagery in all our global modules.

btw. Most of this post was written a while ago and stock photo libraries change over time, so the searches may hopefully prove the above wrong…

The cost of training

Something that I remember not really appreciating about 10 years ago at Thought Den was the real cost and value return of training staff.

Sometimes when you’re working out the value return of the training against the actual money you’re spending, it never quite seemed to add up. Training had to be spent on very specific skills our studio needed, like Apple iOS and Android publishing skills, Agile training or new Flash (yes, adobe flash) skills. Also, one of your valuable team away from their day to day work seemed very costly against a constant spin of projects and product.

Now, that’s fine when you’re in a small studio and training is expensive. The cost seemed basically high, against a negligible return on value.

Photo by Anthony on Pexels.com

However, since moving up through the ranks in larger organisations I really see the difference the opportunity of training can bring to an employee’s day to day working life and career path.

Also, with the advent of the gig-economy in education, where more people are able to offer relevant light training in various related subjects for cheaper, the cost and value have changed.

By offering training to employees generally helps break up the daily grind of their days / lives. Able to express their interests in related subjects, the value may not necessarily translate to their day to day actions any more than 2%, BUT, the value of them learning something related and interesting helps them meet their own targets of learning and growing. The other factor I’ve noticed is you need to be bold with your commitment to improvement, every week all the Learning Design Team (US, Canada and UK) all join for a call where we have set subjects and initiatives to work through. Every ID, every week. That’s a huge cost of hours right, but that commitment shows that the company recognises its employees as people who want to know more, who have a growth mindset.

The cost of training is now cheaper, but the value in reduction of employee turnover and employee happiness can be outstanding.

The company is filled with clever people with minds that need sharpening.

Design Thinking

So I’m on 2 udemy courses right now, Product Manager and Design Thinking.

I’m interested in Design Thinking because I think it plays well to my mindset – no restrictions on ideas, teaching, business design and an interest in creative marketing.

Here’s some of my rough notes so I don’t forget!

Why use design thinking?

  • People, they are key and will validate your delivery
  • Patterns, hmmm, not sure
  • Perspectives, Many different perspectives gives us fresh design blood
  • Focus, your choices have to focus on the objectives
  • Iterations, you can go back and forward
  • Delivery, you are producing a tangible “piece”

When companies are split across so many communication departments – the only person holding all the information can sometimes be the customer

the man in the video – https://www.udemy.com/design-thinking-masterclass/learn/v4/content

What areas of business impact does Design Thinking meet?

  • Adding value and enriching experience of existing customers. Don’t improve the product, but maybe it’s looking at other ways of meeting their needs
  • Increase the number of customers with new segments – let’s change the products and services we already have to suit the needs to a new customer group
  • Innovation, what would a restaurant be like without a menu?
  • Employees, training! It costs and pays off. Something like the protected training we’re getting at KeyPath
  • Social responsibility, be good

This is the list I care for most, a lot of it plays into my present skills in focused innovation, but also having fun with what tools we have.

The more I hear about this, the more design thinking sounds like how a teacher thinks on making activities interesting for their class.

Oh, and someone get this guy a glass of water, I’m hearing a lot of phlegm! (note for Exeter videos…)

Next time, the assignment!

So woke’

I planned a longer post but am really struggling with spending personal time on writing! However I wanted to share the changes I’ve been making to my life. Small things to lessen my footprint, but I’ve been doing them for a couple of years now and I keep adding more changes to my life of which I’m proud.

Tax dodging

I no longer purchase from Amazon, they are well documented for being naughty with their tax accounting and can’t honestly look to complain about school funding being poor, the NHS needing money or any other public service being strapped for cash when I ultimately am consciously using companies that don’t pay into the tax purse like I do.

I also try to avoid using Amazon cloud services for my tech work.

I’ve struggled with my Kindle purchases, however, am now an avid user of the brilliant Coventry library instead.

The problem comes however grubby tax dodgers like like Apple, Google, Airbnb and Facebook.

With Facebook I now use it less. With Google I’ve switched to Ecosia and duckduckgo for more searches.

With Apple… I still have iPhones and haven’t stumped up the cash for a fairphone.

AirBnb, not sure yet.

More to do, but I’ve started!

My Meat

fresh meat
Photo by Markus Spiske temporausch.com on Pexels.com

A while ago I realised that I’d never slaughtered an animal. Odd, but true. Have you? If you were asked to slaughter the animals you wanted to eat, would you? I suggest searching for abattoir animal videos. Also, look into Kosher and Halal meat, see how your stomach does with that.

That made me spend some time reading more about the meat industry only to realise that industrialised meat product is awful and horrific. So far, I now don’t eat Pork, I eat a lot less chicken and beef. Also, why kill animals when science is making us super tasty meat free alternatives. I’m sure a mark of a modern civilisation is being able to choose not to kill things.

I now basically eat less meat, and only buy from one supplier so I know where the animal was killed. I’d like to eat no meat tbh. but I have really poor iron levels so haven’t quite made it yet – even with supplements.

But it does mean I don’t eat meat out, from Greggs for lunch, or anywhere really. Who knows where that was killed or what life it had, or how long it was trasported for so I could have some meat at lunch.

More to do, but I’ve started!

Buy food Ethically, unless it’s too hard

Mmmm Milky

Blergh. A trip to an animal sanctuary sorted that. Listen to the stories of babies taken from mothers… big nope. Watch online where the calfs go once they’re taken… big big nope.

I don’t drink milk in my tea or have it with my cereal, instead I’m getting un-sweetened fortified Almond milk which is tasty, and also Soya milk. But I’m sure I still have it in cakes and other products.

More to do, but I’ve started!

Plastic face

This summer I’m buying from Lush, and trialling andkeep for a plastic free bathroom! No shampoo bottles, no show gel bottles… no nuffin.

I’m struggling with razors and contact lenses and presents people buy with smellies. However, in Coventry, lots of the plastic is recycled here, so I’m hoping that slightly balances it. Also, I’m “that guy” in the office and refuse to let people use the plastic cutlery and plates when we have perfectly good china and metals ones to wash.

More to do, but I’ve started!

So woke’

What a dull post! Look at the things I’m not doing 😛 I know it’s over-worthy, but I wanted to share the easier small changes I’m managing to keep up.

An award for “Most collaborative”

This year I was very lucky enough to get recognised for a value I work very hard at. The award for “Most Collaborative” was presented this year at an end of year ceremony.

Be Collaborative

Trust yourself, your colleagues and your partners enough to have honest interaction and find solutions as a team.

Be Collaborative

Trust yourself, your colleagues and your partners enough to have honest interaction and find solutions as a team.

Keypath award

Also, well done to my colleagues who picked up their own awards this year too.

Surprising learning!

Back in my Year 10 Design Technology lessons I remember our teacher cheerily telling us about “jigs”, a tool you make to keep re-using and it creates perfect re-creations of your work.

Well, the perfect was a bit far stretched with my level of craftsmanship, but it did the trick for my potpourri wall mount still hanging in the family home.

The fact is though, the lesson reared its head again when I was thinking about how far we should “jig” / template our online master modules. Should everything follow a pattern to make sure its easy for a learner to get learning in repeatable and re-used activity patterns, or would that cause more problems that it solved?

Does work which has been overly “jig’d” lose its surprise and engagement?

Jig Lover

this lady loves jigs
She loves jiggin’ – Photo by Alina Vilchenko on Pexels.com

Erm… what has stuck with me as I take on more leadership and planning is the brilliance and dullness a template can bring to your team’s work.

In online learning design, consistency is king / queen / non-gender denomination ruler. It means our IDs can re-produce high-quality learning experiences by following a simple learning design pattern. This also has the knock-on effect of making our learners feel safer and more comfortable with their learning. Often online learners can feel lonely and concerned that they’re not following instructions correctly, promoting them to reach out and check, which in turn can be a waste of their time.

This consistency means we can produce learning outputs quicker and have our learners have a better, safer learning experience.

Jig Desipe’zr

lady bored at desk
Oh look another innovate video and mass discussion where no one listens and everyone posts… Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

The flip side however is consistency brings dullness and boredom, there’s a potential for the surprise of learning to be lost.

“Oh another video and discussion”, “oh another vote and discussion… “. Think how many of your learners signed up, or manages to complete a module spending their free time learning about a subject they are bored rigid with. So, repeatable patterns too much can breed boredom in a subject the students care about, whoops! Not cool.

That means in our template work we need to introduce consistency, but also allow room for our IDs to be creative and try new modes and formats for learning, allowing the user to enjoy a spark of fun or surprise in the weekly habit to complete their online masters.

The Half Jig Suprise

some jigging and room for surprise in the smoke
Ohhhh, what learning is hidden in the smoke! Photo by Trinity Kubassek on Pexels.com

A harmony must be struck between learning content that is repeatable, familiar ground with disparate learners but also with breathing room for the fireworks, surprise and excitement and creativity from our IDs to make engaging learning experiences for our learners.

Our template isn’t perfect, but maybe it shouldn’t be. It allows for repeatable learning patterns, but the review process attempts to indicate where we should be making something “different” or “surprising” for our learners.

Current account switching to Monzo could hurt your credit rating

Just needed to share this in-case anyone else falls foul to their credit rating being hit with a Monzo current account switch.

I didn’t know this before switching, but found after switching to Monzo my credit account took a real hit unfortunately. Obviously this may not be the same for you, however I wanted to share to help others avoid it.

The reasons I wanted to switch were to leave a bank who I don’t see as very pleasant or ethical, and I wanted to support Monzo more as I get better service with them.

Losing the oldest

However, by switching from oldest current account and not having other accounts my credit rating dropped. That’s because the average of my bank “accounts ages” was drastically reduced.

Monzo no-show

The other thing I didn’t realise was that Monzo doesn’t show up on my credit report, so it doesn’t look like I’m “earning months” to improve my average age of my bank accounts either.

This has a knock on effect my credit report can’t see my savings, so it doesn’t make my score increase in any way.

What to do?

Just, maybe don’t switch yet.

Still, if you’re thinking of switching, consider switching from one of your newest accounts.

Also, consider that Monzo may not show up on your report and so won’t be earning you credit points.


It’s all a load of poop anyway this credit report rubbish, but it’s a game we have to play, so I hope that helps.