The Lockdown diaries week 8: a bit of a mini break and some service design

Another week of lock down and the death toll in the UK is now over 33,600. Well, when I say another week of lock down, it has been here in Scotland (and Wales and Northern Ireland), but not in England where some restrictions have been lifted.

Last week I, along with millions of others watched the UK Prime Minister give what can only be described as confusing address to the nation. In his haste to give give some “good news” he seemed to forget that the measures he was describing only applied to England and not the rest of the “great nation” he claims to love so much.  

The confusion, derision this statement caused compares so starkly with other countries such as New Zealand who not only have keep their death toll and infection rates low, but have also manage to provide clear, consistent messaging to their citizens and even more excitingly have allowed hairdressers to re-open.  The clumsiness of the change of messaging to “stay alert” has exposed the rising challenges within our political system around the importance of people over profit. We all need to “get back to work” and stop enjoy this self enforced holiday!

This week I had a bit of a break, not quite a holiday, but I did enjoy a few email and twitter free days. At the start of this year I promised myself I would be better at taking “proper” holidays. When you work for yourself, there is a temptation to work as much as you can and never be too far from your email, just in case something pops up.  I was a good decision and I feel much better for it.  I even managed to get a bit of painting done.  This is my reaction to the tracking app I wrote about 2 weeks ago.  The beauty of the tulip representing the apparent beautiful ease and simplicity of using an app to track and trace people, without enough attention being applied to the wider implications of data gathering and civil liberties.  

Track, trace, tulip, acrylic on canvas, Sheila MacNeill, 2020

So my week of online conferences were pretty much all social.   Apart from Friday morning when I joined the Service Design in Education webinar.

 I have an awareness of service design from a quite a few years ago when I was at CETIS and we were staring to look at learning analytics.  I wrote a couple of briefing papers with Jean Mutton (who at that point was working at the University of Derby) and her developing use of service design approaches.  It was lovey to catch up with Jean again too on Friday. 

There is now an emerging service design community across the education sector, and it was really interesting to get an overview of some of the work that is being done, Katie Murrie and the team at the Service Design Academy in Dundee and August college have been doing some really fabulous work across all education sectors through service design approaches.  I need to find out more about the differences an similarities between service design and universal design at some point too.  I think my natural instincts for educational/learning design is a mish-mash of both!

I have to say it was also a really well designed and delivered session which added to the overall high levels of engagement from all the delegates – design really does matter! It was the first time I have actually been in a zoom session using breakout rooms and that all worked well.  I’m certainly going to keep an eye on developments in this community.  You can find out more about the emerging community here.

During the week I became even more convinced that we need to be using the term physical distancing more than social distancing. I wrote about this a few weeks ago, but just now I think it’s really not getting through to people that the physical distance between us is really important. Wearing a mask doesn’t mean  you can ignore that 2 meter guidance.  But I know it’s hard.  

Like everyone I miss people, I really do.  So when I heard an interview with the wonderful Benjamin Zephaniah, this poem really resonated with what we are experiencing right now. So I’ll leave you with this version of it, dear reader. Until next week stay safe. 

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