Using a spreadsheet to automatically create a list of dates

Something that I witness far too often for my liking, is people manually entering a list of patterned dates into something – e.g. if someone is creating a scheme of work, where they want every Tuesday for a year, they sit there with a paper diary in front of them, flicking through the pages and manually typing in the date of every single Tuesday in the year. This is very time consuming, and prone to mistake.

Personally, I let the technology do the work for me, and usually spreadsheet software (e.g. Microsoft Excel).

Here is a short video showing 2 different techniques of how you can get Excel to create a list of dates that follow a pattern.



How to re-enable a microphone in Windows 7

In the last few months, I have twice had a situation whilst using web conferencing, where the computer has got confused with the internal microphone and the headset microphone – and the only way for me to solve it was to disable the internal microphone. The only problem with this, was once disabled, I couldn’t then find the option to re-enable it afterwards.

After much detailed and systematic searching (discovered by accident after randomly pressing and clicking) I found the solution.

Which I will share here in case anyone else has the same problem.

  1. Go to the control panel
  2. In the search box, type ‘Audio’
  3. Under the heading ‘Troubleshooting’ there should be an option to ‘find and fix audio recording problems’ which should then re-enable the disabled microphone.
Control panel, search for Audio, go to Troubleshooting

How to re-enable the internal microphone in Windows 7

MindGenius offers use at home for students (and staff)

Followers of this blog, and people that know me, will be aware that of all the Mind Mapping tools available, my weapon of choice is Mind Genius – really quick to start using, very powerful, and can be used by all people in an organisation (learners, tutors, senior managers).

One of the problems though in the past with Mind Genius, is it could generally only be used within the organisation, so if learners wanted to access it from home, they had to purchase a licence separately, and this became a barrier for its use, especially as more people are learning online, for all or some of their study.

However – Mind Genius are now offering a very attractive option, so when organisations upgrade to the latest version they can then pay an additional (reasonably priced) annual maintenance – which then gives them ‘free’ upgrades for any future new versions of the software, as well as giving the organisation the home use rights – basically staff and students at that organisation can install the software on their own personal computers at home for free.

This to me is brilliant (in fact Genius) – the software is relatively cheap for an organisation to buy, we can now offer that when a student signs up for a course, they can have this software for free, staff can use Mind Genius stategically in their teaching and learning, knowing that their learners could access it at home as well. Mind Genius can be a wonderful tool to support learners with dyslexia who have difficulty with organising work (e.g. assessments) – if you read any of Geoff Petty’s books, he identifies that using Mind Mapping techniques offers huge improvements in students grades, which I have witnessed in the work that I have done.

Details of the pricing structure (in the UK) via a CHEST agreement can be found at

e.g. (prices correct at time of this post being written) – an FE college would pay a one off fee of £1800, and then an annual fee of £450 – this I think offers exceptionally good value.

An example of one way that Mind Genius could be used, is converting a well formatted word document into a Mind Map

Why I support ‘no-notice’ inspections

It was recently reported by the Guardian, that Ofsted will be moving to a no-notice method for carrying out inspections.  a move which I completely support.

Due to the diverse nature of my teaching in 7 years I went through 3 Ofsted inspections, 2 QAA inspections, 1 ALI inspection and god knows how many internal inspections. Perversely I actually enjoyed the lesson in which I was being inspected – the pressure and the expectation I actually thrived on (similar to when I played more sport – I loved the big occasions, and performed at my best in front of the crowds). Apart from 1 internal inspection, I always came out very well in these observed sessions.

The thing that I didn’t enjoy was the build up to the inspections. The fact that the whole college went into a form of panic in the 6 months leading up to the inspection, which dominated everything, stopped any real innovation happening (I remember being told in no uncertain terms that I had to back off the ILT stuff as there was an inspection ahead and the college had to focus on that not ILT!), and all so that we can put an unrealistic ‘show’ on for the inspectors.

I believe that no-notice inspections is the only way forward – this will give inspectors a chance to see the reality rather than the rehearsed, and weaker teachers will be identified, whilst stronger teachers rewarded, and as such – I said it many times when I was teaching, and I still stick by it now – anyone is welcome to turn up and observe me teaching or training without giving me notice.

Taken from on 2012-1-11
Original URL – created on 2011-07-19 11:28:46
Connecticut State LibraryCC BY-NC-SA 2.0

My most read posts from 2011

In 2011, I posted 25 times on this blog, which isn’t many by most peoples standards, by my posts do generally attract a reasonable amount of interest, and I hope that my posts (even though infrequent) offer use and insight to others. Looking at my stats for last year, my 5 most accessed posts in 2011 are as below, and what is interesting is how only 2 of the posts were actually written in 2011 – and 1 was written in 2008, so my posts seem to have some sort of ‘staying’ power.

  1. Using ‘game’ and activity templates in education 1 comment January 2011
  2. Quickly creating a Google Map from a Spreadsheet of data 12 comments September 2009
  3. Putting the fun back into ‘fundamental’ learning 5 comments January 2011
  4. Choosing different pins when creating Google Maps 0 comments May 2010
  5. Recording sound directly into a Word file 0 comments October 2008

I hope that my posts over this coming year will please the many people that have subscribed to my blog, and my work gives me the opportunity to post more often than I managed in the last 12 months.