Wisdom of the Walrus

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“The time has come the walrus said to speak of many things”, only not here. From today the Digital Literacy blog is drawing to a close. I will leave the blog here as an archive for a while until I have moved important, static, things to SAM or QuileR. Once everything else is out of date I will remove the blog completely.

At the end of March I will be reducing my hours to just two days a week and I will need to concentrate on SAM, QuileR, Calling all Lecturers and interaction with staff and students. One of the casualties of that change is this blog. Thank you to everyone who has ever read or commented, I hope you will all join me in the, slightly different, interactions that are SAM, QuileR and Calling all Lecturers.

It’s all useful stuff!

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It never ceases to amaze me that sometimes it is as if there is no news at all and then there is more than you want! Ummm, what shall I write about first – I know, something simple.

Movenote is a simple little app that gives you the opportunity to put not only voice-overs on your PowerPoint but face-overs too. The video at the end of the short post here provides an example for you.

I really like this next one. Learn how to speak and cook Italian with MIT! There are links to lots more free learning on this OpenCulture site too.

Not quite sure how this next piece of technology will make things more secure but anything that gets rid of the dreaded PASSWORD gets my vote. This article from the famous Forbes journal explains how Google intends to get rid of passwords. Keep your eyes open for it, it could be our salvation :)

Another thing I hate as much as passwords are cables. They are everywhere, all over the desk, under your feet, arrgh! Wireless technology has helped a little but we need more – like this idea from Apple. I do hope they hurry up with this, I can’t wait.

This article from Technology Review is just mind-blowing. At last the age of technology is about to provide something amazingly useful, wonderful, fantastic! When someone says, “we are going to cure the ills of the world” you never quite believe them – may be this time they really mean it.

I was very pleased when I read this article. For me the quote from Paul Kagame at the end of the article is what Digital Literacy is all about. These are such good actions, I do hope he does not let anyone down.

I can’t wait to try this new technology from Intel, it looks such fun. The more serious applications of this, “perceptual computing” are endless – coming from a health background I can see how this is going to improve online healthcare enormously.

You might think I have moved a long way from Digital Literacy but all of this is what being literate is about. Knowing what is happening in the world and being prepared to make use of that knowledge is what being literate enables us to do. And we can have some fun too – here is a 12 days of Christmas list from ALISS, some of it is a bit gruesome but there are funny and interesting pieces too :)

Brain fodder

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Here are just a few items to keep you from falling asleep over your breakfast :)

This article was written for teachers but you should take a look at the ideas it has for using Twitter in the classroom (lecture hall, etc). Do you agree with the suggested ideas, is this how you would like to see Twitter used, are there other ways you would like Twitter to be used as part of your academic studies? Post a comment and let me know, or take your ideas to your lecturers.

If you use Evernote you might like to try using LiveMinutes with it instead of using Google Docs to collaboratively produce documents.

Do take a look at Doodlecast Pro, this is a great App for adding interest and improving explanations in your presentations. There is a smashing little video on how to use Doodlecast in this article from Educational Technology and Mobile Learning.

I’ve just given you more to look at and think about and we just get more and more turn up on our desktops everyday. This is a really interesting article about how all this clutter affects our thinking and how to manage this clutter that is created in our busy days.

Some of you might be fascinated by this article about the symbols we use everyday, it might also help you to remember what they stand for.

This one is for those of you who are really interested in technology. Here is a little tiny, very cheap, easy to assemble computer kit. I can’t wait for mine to arrive :)

And the next big thing is …

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The rate of change we are seeing these days is similar to that seen in the industrial revolution. The changes are not just about how we use banking services or how we communicate with friends and employers. The changes affect fundamental aspects of our lives such as how we learn or how we are treated when we are ill. To be able to take advantage of these changes we have to be aware of what they are, so I thought I’d tell you about a few things I’ve been reading about.

I enjoyed reading this article that appeared in the Telegraph about how and why digital literacy is being (or is not being) embedded in UK compulsory schooling. Hearing about what some people, like Don Wettrick in the USA, (No 9 in the list) and the Play-i robots are doing in classes is really exciting. I do wonder just how many children get these sorts of opportunities, will it just be the lucky few?

Healthcare doesn’t miss out on all these new inventions either. Sandra Winkler, an occupational health researcher in Nova Southeastern University in Florida, has received a $1 million dollar grant to investigate the use of Second Life® to support amputees in leading more functionally effective lives. In another instance of technology enhanced healthcare is an operation performed using Google Glass. Two surgeons, in hospitals more than two hours apart from each other, performed a shoulder replacement. This enables inexperienced surgeons to have the support of experts as if they were standing right next to them.

In academia we see yet more potential changes. This article is asking if Google Help with replace librarians?

For a few tips before I finish you might find these helpful. You can help keep yourself safe online by controlling who has access to where you are – this article tells you how to do that. Next, a list of apps you might find useful. Finally, a discussion from LSE on copyright, open access and moral rights.

Now what?

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We have looked briefly at what digital literacy might mean for you. Just to finish off these last four weeks here are two videos from employers. You will need to login to Uniview with your University username and password to view them – the first is from the Worcester Evening News the second is from SmartMonkeys. Now we are back to me providing interesting and useful links for you. I hope you enjoy what I have for you today :)

In this article Alex Walsh is writing about keeping her own Professional Portfolio and how helpful it was in helping her to get a job. Alex is a teacher so this will be particularly interesting for those in Education but I think we can all learn from her. In a similar vein, Colleen Lee writes about how she maintains her Personal Learning Network (PLN), keeping things organised is about more than just the tidiness aspect. Both a Professional Portfolio and a PLN are tools that can help you think critically.

If you are not quite sure what thinking critically is all about this five-minute video on YouTube should help you make sense of it. If you would like a quick way into online resources to boost your critical thinking, take a look at these lists provided by the LSE.

Now for some interesting stuff to finish off with. You might like to look at these apps that can create PDF from your mobile phone. If you are into Greek Odyssey you might like this article on various translations – makes for good listening. If you are into natural sciences and the human genome this article from National Geographic is very interesting. Finally, but by no means least, here is something for all of you who are struggling with your PhD studies.

How to have Employability

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Employability – the knack we all need to have, how to get employed and stay employed. Ok, it’s not the most important thing in life but it’s pretty high up on the list of “must haves”. Besides the basics of knowing your subject and being able to apply that knowledge, there are other things that make a potential employer offer you a job – and these days, it all starts way before the interview.

As I have mentioned in the handout on Employability in SAM, increasingly employers are searching the Internet to find information about potential employees – 68% of employers say they have hired someone because of what they found on their social network – 61% of employers have rejected an applicant after finding information about them on their social networks. The social networks employers most commonly screen are: 76% Facebook, 53% Twitter, 48% LinkedIn. If you are hoping to get a first class job, you need a good degree and a good online identity.

You want to avoid the type of experience shown on this video – this type of “youthful indiscretion” should have been dealt with. If you cannot remove or publicly apologise for your behaviour you should at least try to drown it with lots of examples of your good behaviour. This sort of problem is not as common as people think, it is more usual to find that people either have no, or very little, presence in social media. Often people use social media for connecting with friends and family but do not think about how to use it to help them get a job. Let’s rectify that.

Aimee Bateman is quite well-known for helping people develop their online persona, here she is at University of Westminster during their, “Get the Digital Edge” week. You might also like to look at Aimee’s own web site. The University of Westminster videos are a little difficult to see but the content is very useful. This video is about reputation, the person talking is Andrew Rigby who helps companies manage their reputation. Reputation management is really no different for individuals so do make notes about his tips.

Networking and Collaboration

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You always hear people going on about networking but what does that really mean and why is it considered so important?

We never only learn on our own, there are usually other people involved. They might form part of a class, be work colleagues or family and friends but they all influence what and how we learn. This video from Denison University in the USA is three years old but it is inspiring to hear how the students talk about learning how to network online. The wider the community we engage with the more chance there is for our learning to be honed by others. Basically that is what networking is all about, you find other people who have similar interests, you talk about those interests and, as a result, you learn. As you learn so do others learn from you, they also learn about you. So before you start networking you need to think about what it is that you want people to learn about you.

You need to be seen as friendly but professional, honest but not to the point of being rude and you need to be positive but not full of your own importance. You need to decide how you want to appear to others, this blog tells you about ten words you can cut from your writing if you want your argument to be more forceful. If you are trying to present a less formal personality you would want to leave some of these words in your writing; look to see how others write before you start. Be careful what you say and what you say about other people – let this video be a warning. Of course you also have to consider the law relating to what you do online. You might like to try out Accidental outlaw, a quiz about the law and online writing. One way to start networking is by blogging, like Laura Pasquini who writes about studying for her PhD. You could join discussions on Twitter, this might be with a support group such as #phdchat, it could be following a person who works in the your subject area, such as Richard Branson (if you are a business student) or a company such as TechSmith (if you are a computing student). You could join Facebook too and then link all your networking sites together thus enlarging your network. People often call this type of setup a Personal Learning Network (PLN).

You do not need to join in any discussions at the beginning, in fact it is better to lurk for a while so you can learn about the culture of the group you have joined. If you do not know how to join in here are a few tips:

  • If you do not have anything to say don’t say anything
  • Develop your listening skills
  • If you are not sure what someone means, ask them
  • Ask interesting questions about the site topic/subject area
  • Give helpful and interesting answers, do not use mundane phrases such as, “I totally agree”
  • Try to give only positive answers (this can be challenging), if you cannot be positive do not say anything
  • Do not comment or reply when you are angry
  • Provide people with links to useful sites/information
  • Do not use humour/sarcasm, it can very often misfire or be misunderstood
  • If you do say something humourous, remember to put a smiley, :) , so people know you are not serious

In the next post I’ll be talking more about employability and how it is linked to digital literacy. If there is anything you would like to have explained further do let me know, especially if you would like me to put a video into Quiler for you.

Who knows you?

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We all think we know everything there is to know about the online aspects of our lives but I am constantly finding helpful tips about managing my own data and image. So I’m going to carry on with the idea of the Digital Footprint in this post and see if there isn’t something of interest I can turn up for you.

Just take a look at this video – it’s really good – by Tom Scott, who is a sort of digital literacy journalist. Once you have watched the video ask yourself if Tom could do the same thing with your Facebook page? If you feel a little worried by this video, instead of worrying go and look at the Facebook Help site. There’s loads of information here about how to control who gets to know you and your friends in Facebook. Look at your other Networking sites and check their Help pages for Privacy and Security advice too.

For some general good advice on how to keep your computer/mobile phone/tablet from letting in unwanted attention your should look at this video from Channel 4 News. It provides some very basic advice which can be applied to any networking you do, such as:

  • Keep your personal details out of any profile you create (put in the minimum required)
  • Check your privacy settings are at the level you need
  • Periodically check your “likes”/”friendships” to make sure nothing fishy has occurred
  • Make sure you update your internet browser software (Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer etc)
  • Make sure you update your operating system regularly (Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, Linux, etc)
  • Install and regularly update some reputable anti-virus software

If you have any problems sorting out your privacy or security settings do contact me – I might not know the answer straight away but I can usually find out :)

First steps

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As I said in the last post, I’m going to start from the beginning. In Digital Literacy there are many beginnings but I feel that the best place to start in this instance is with your Digital Footprint. I know that many of you are probably tired of hearing that phrase but as you are a member of the University community, those of you who know all about Digital Footprints can help those in our community who are not so familiar with it.

To start with here is a video about your Digital Dossier, e.g. the compilation of all the tracks your Digital Footprints have made. Although this video was first posted in 2008, I think it is quite good at explaining just how we make (or others make for us) Digital Footprints, understanding how it happens is even more important today than it was in 2008. Digital Footprints are not something to be scared about but we do need to be aware of them. We need to know how to make attractive footprints that we can be pleased that people look at.

A blog from America called Your Digital Footprint is rather interesting too. As far as Digital Literacy is concerned many countries in the world are all experiencing the same sort of thing so don’t dismiss this just because it is American.

Try searching for yourself online, you can do a Google Search or you might find a PeekYou search turns something up.

Start thinking about how you are going to manage your Digital Footprint from now on. Write down a plan of what you think you ought to do and then see how it compares to what you read about on the blog in the coming weeks – hopefully we will be able to give you some good tips :)

Another Academic Year

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Here we are back again after the summer – how did it manage to go so fast? As this is the beginning of semester I thought it might be useful if I started right from the beginning again. I’m not going to just start right from the beginning again, though that would make my job really easy :) Things have changed quite a bit since I first started writing this blog – for one thing people are becoming more aware of what this digital stuff is all about and there are more digital literacy resources around. So over the next three or four weeks I thought I would bring some of the new resources to you.

As usual this blog will go out about once a week. SAM the hub for all the University digital news, goings on, policies, guidelines and resources will go out about once a month. The Scoop.it site, Calling all Lecturers for those interested in education, goes out at least daily. QuileR, the site for short training videos, is reviewed whenever I get a request for training or updates in a certain programme from either students, lecturers or other members of staff. Do contact me if you want to know more about QuileR. I put a message out on the ILS Facebook page whenever there is a publication.

Before I finish for today I thought you might be interested in Picadilo. Picadilo is a photo editing programme you can use online, it has plenty of tools to play with so try it out and send me your results.

Summer siesta

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So here we are – the last post of this academic year. Students and lecturers are starting to pack up which leaves the campus free to be invaded by builders and other such people. Backstage, where no one can see them, people are furiously preparing for next semester.

One of our students has taken advantage of some University supported work experience in Australia. Lauren is studying Digital Film Production here at the University on the Screenwriting course and whilst in Melbourne is writing a blog about her experiences. Follow her progress and let her know that we are thinking about her enjoying all that lovely Aussie sunshine :)

Why not get blogging/Tweeting/Facebooking like Lauren and let us know what you are getting up to over the summer break. Give me the link to your publications and in September I’ll devise a prize for the person who gets the most comments over the summer.

Happy holidays everyone :)

Mostly fun :)

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All the examinations, furious writing, presentations and grading are drawing to a close. Soon everyone’s thoughts will be turning to how to get one last thing into the suitcase for the holidays. Before then though I have a few more goodies for you :)

To begin with here is a chance to win a £5K grant from Jisc. Jisc are looking for students who have good ideas about how to use technology to improve student life – so get in touch with them!

If you are still trying to get yourself, your ideas, resources, notes organised then look at this article about Evernote. Yes I know I’ve mentioned it before and that you have probably tried it before but, as the article says, may be you just haven’t been doing it right :)

Do you want to produce your own podcasts? Why not try PodOmatic – it’s free and you can add your podcasts to a community of like-minded people. May be you just want to see what other people have done? Have a look, there are lots of topic headings, you are bound to find something interesting.

LearnDash have some really useful tips and tools for teachers but I’m sure loads of students will find them useful too. In this particular article there is a list of 19 fun tools. My favourites are Trello which can help you organise a project or group activity and Screenleap which enables you to share your screen with a friend – both of which are free!

For those of you who have an iPad. Do watch this video on how to visually record and share your notes. There are four apps evaluated, all of which are really useful but have different price tags. This method of note taking is great, even if you don’t have an iPad, and it is well described by Rachel Smith.

Finally here are two funnies for you. The first is a truly amazing wedding photo the other is a video warning about the perils of time-travel :)

From cringing to ridiculous :)

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Here I am back again after my break, keen to bring you all sorts of exciting things – well interesting things at least :)

You might laugh or cringe over these videos from the EU about a family called the Clikkers. These videos are part of the EU programme to inform people about digital literacies, they are quite good really but probably aimed at a slightly younger age group than the one here at the University.

We all need to learn more about our digital footprints.This slide show and it’s accompanying Word document provide some useful advice and handy urls to help us find out more about these footprints. We all have them and, as this other video points out, we have them from before we are born. This next video demonstrates how it can all go horribly wrong!

Usually when things go horribly wrong it’s because people have not had a chance to develop good digital literacy skills; this article from the BBC is a good case in point. Everyone in our society needs to develop these new skills, if you do not have them you lose out. The digital revolution has left some people stranded with old skills, those of us who do have digital literacy skills need to help those who don’t. Right, that’s enough preaching now for something completely different :)

People often wonder not just what avatars are and why we use them. This e-book, “The use of avatars” has loads of information about avatars and how they are used. Do you have any avatars? What do you use them for?

Have a look at the Oxford University, Internet Institute. There are loads of podcasts and videos here about modern technologies related to the Internet. Subjects include things like, “Facebook: The Strength of Weak Ties”, “The Changing Business of Software” and “The Life Story of a Pioneer: From Hi-tech to Philanthropy” and lots, lots more.

Now some things for a little bit of fun :) First Padlet, you might remember this as Wallwisher. It is a great way of sharing and planning with friends online. Go and have a look and try it out. Next is something called Blubox, if you take loads of pictures and want to scrunch them up so they fit in a smaller space Blubox is for you. Blubox is a photo compressor which claims to compress your photos by 90% whilst maintaining the resolution. Have a go and let me know if it works as well as it claims – I have loads of photos I need to compress! Finally, I bring you bomomo – I don’t think it does anything useful, it just makes pretty pictures but it is good fun :)

For new and old alike

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I realised that I had not provided anything for some of our newer students on the last few posts. So today here is something for the newbies :)

I was wandering around the web as I often do and came across these really useful short animations from Jisc Netskills web2practice. If you are not quite sure what Twitter, RSS, etc are or why you should use them these videos explain it all for you.

Many of you already know how to find Creative Commons resources on the web. For you this Creative Commons New Zealand page is just one more useful link for you, for the newbies this is something you should add to your RSS feed :) Here are 7 Ways to Find Creative Commons Images.

I’m sure some of you are already using WordPress for writing your free blog. These two videos I found on YouTube explain how to set up a web site using WordPress and how to make it a commercial site. Pretty obviously this is not free but if you are thinking of setting up your own business online this is a cheap (about £25 per year), but good way, of doing it.

Mozilla, the web browser people, are developing a web literacy standard, i.e. the basics of what you should know and be able to do on and with the web. The competencies come under the headings of Exploring, Building and Connecting. If you are not sure of what this involves, take a look at this page and see if you are able to do all this stuff.

Communication, openness and freedom

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As most of you all know by now, I am a great supporter of Open Access in all its variety. So you will have to excuse me if the first thing I mention this week is Open Access.

This blog post is from the blog of Curt Rice, Vice President for Research & Development at the University of Tromsø in Norway. From what he says it seems that Curt has had some quite strong reservations about Open Access for Research but he seems to be changing his mind. Read Curt’s argument in favour of Open Access, if you have any doubts about this new direction in academia I think this article could change your mind.

Another article this time from Pamorama, starts off talking about using social media in schools but the main part is about social media use in universities. I was in two minds as to whether to put this on the Calling All Lecturers site but I think everyone could be interested in this. Of course, this is about social media use in America but we are not far behind them. The article itself is fairly short but the comments and links that follow are very interesting. How would you like to see our University expanding its use of social media?

I’m going to try out AnyMeeting. It’s a programme for running your own webinars, it can be free (with advertisements of course) or you can pay about £15 per month to do it without advertisements. Skype is good but it only works well with fewer than five people, whereas AnyMeeting is supposed to work ok with up to 20 people. I’ll let you know how I get on.

I think I’ve said before that I use Penultimate as the writing tool for my iPad, however, I found this list for eight tools the other day. The site Educational Technology and Mobile Learning is admittedly aimed at schools rather than universities but it can be really useful for picking up learning and teaching tools.

Now then I really want to direct you to this next site ‘cos the way the blog is used and the particular discussion is very interesting. However there is a big “but”; the site is very, very coarse in the sense that there is a lot of swearing in the podcast – so be warned. Even if you do not listen to the podcast just look at the way the blog is used, very clever. The podcast is about the misunderstandings that can occur when social media is used if you do not know how to use it properly. The blog is called, The Overstand Podcast, and this is Episode 6 – Law of Attraction, the Podcast link is at the bottom of the first paragraph.

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