A little behind is better than more :)

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Arrrgh – look at the time! I’m all behind today (don’t you dare say anything about the size of my behind)!

I have quite a lot I could give you today but I only have a little time so let me see what I think is best.

For those researchers out there who read the blog, if you haven’t heard about ResearchGate before, you should have done :) Pop off to the site and go and collaborate with all the other lovely researchers. You might also like to look at this article from Nature about social media for researchers (and PhD students). Whilst I have your attention you ought to look at DEVONthink too. Devon think can also be very useful to all you other students so go and get stuck in to something that will really help you cleverly manage all your documents.

For some of you who are more interested in technology and writing your own web site go and download Google Goggles – it’s great fun.

What a start to the week – enjoy yourselves :)

From printing to reading

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ok everyone let’s see what I have managed to find today.

If you are into gadgets you might have already heard of 3D printing but I still think it’s worth exploring. If you have never heard about 3D printing before, here is a BBC video about it. I think this stuff is fantastic, especially as the technology is reducing in price very quickly – I bet that in three years time it will be the thing every student wants to come to Uni with :) Just imagine what you could make with it – no, may be I shouldn’t ask you that!

I know this isn’t about technology but I just had to include this as it is one of my pet hates. Britain and America have been described as, “two nations divided by the same language”. For those of you who get confused by constantly seeing American spelling, or if you just want a laugh, here is a little help from the Online College.

I found this on the Technology for Teachers site but I think that it could be very useful for students too. Similar to Storify but just for pics is Pixntell. This would be a great tool for giving feedback in class (or in the VLE) on stuff you have had to find – much less boring than a written paper or PowerPoint.

Now then this is American but there are going to be lots of books and articles you want to read that are printed in America – so take notice. This next piece I found is all about how to find online, digital books, articles, papers from Libraries all over America and they are FREE! There is academic stuff and recreational reading so go and enjoy yourselves :)

So much to do …

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A competition, an online conference and even more interesting stuff today :) ok let’s look at the competition first.

On Monday I was in Birmingham at Daden Ltd, they create all sorts of virtual, immersive reality sort of stuff. One of the programmes they have created is an “immersive data visualisation application” called Datascape. Some of the data they showed me was really rather cute – it was so much easier to understand than seen as a flat or simple, non-immersive 3D diagram. Any way, they have a competition for people to produce the, “best immersive 3D visualisation” of their own data. You can download the Community Edition of Datascape for free so of you go all you researchers, mathematicians and psychologists get going with your data!

For those of you interested in dyslexia I found a really good site about it called dislexiawayofthinking. There is loads of information and support on this site – there are videos, an ebook, webinars, tests, information about helpful apps, you can follow them on Twitter and join the group. Have a look it’s a really, really useful site.

There’s a fantastic conference on 8th to 9th of November. It’s at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark but don’t worry you can follow it and join in, all online! The conference is about New Media and the Public Sphere – how are all these new communication technologies affecting our lives, is it changing our basic understanding and conception of “the public”, is there a still a definite divide between the public and the private? Go and add your four penny-worth to the conference – the Twitter hashtag is #NMPS2012. Go on – have a bit of fun :)

Try Ginger it is fantastic for proof reading! It is soooo very difficult to check text when you are tired and you have been reading each version over and over again. Even if you use the Microsoft spell checker you can’t be sure if it’s right. Coming to the rescue is Ginger – tra daa! A great tool for doing your proof reading – but do try to learn from it as it corrects your dreadful grammar :)

Here is a little bit of fun to end with. I haven’t tried it yet but it looks smashing. Xtranormal is a programme that will create a video from your words. Have a go and see if you can make something really funny :)

Stimulate your brain :)

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Mustn’t forget to put in a title today :) I just get so excited by some of the things I find for you that I completely forget simple things like titles!

Today I have found something that I think is a really good idea. Don’t know about you but I often get a sort of writers (or even thinkers) block, especially first thing in the morning, so it’s great to find something that can deal with that. There is a site called, 750words.com where you can go and write 750 words on anything. It’s all completely private, it’s not like a blog or Twitter. It just helps you to get all the morning, muddled, mess out of your brain so you can get going properly – you might even find the answer to some of the questions you have. Great!

I also have a couple of research things for you. You don’t have to be doing your PhD to look at these they are very useful even if you are just beginning. I’ve mention Mendeley and Zotero before and if you get along ok with those that’s fine but different people have different needs and I thought you might like to try Quiqqa. All of these programmes do similar things in slightly different ways – they manage your papers, your references, help you connect with other people interested in the same/similar subjects – all in all very helpful stuff.

Finally I must give my friend’s new book a plug. If you’re not sure about how or when to use social media in your research/academic work then have a look at this book written by Shailey Minocha and Marian Petre and published by Vitae Innovate, the research organisation. The title is a bit posh, “Handbook of social media for researchers and supervisors Digital technologies for research dialogues” but it has lots of good advice in it – go on have a look :)

Whoops! No title

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I’ve found a lot of interesting things out on the metasphere today – I’ll just pass on a few of them here.

For all the new people who joined us on Monday I thought I’d provide a link to something helpful – well I think it’s helpful. This comes from the site of the Information Commissioners Office (huh bet you didn’t know we had one of those did you). The site has some interesting stuff on it so bookmark/favourite it when you get there. This little nugget is about personal safety online, not too long, not preachy and gives basic, sensible advice.

I like this piece of news from ISPR, “uGenius replaces bank tellers with ‘PAT’ (personal assisted teller) technology” but just how long will it be until we don’t have bank tellers at our local bank at all? Most of my banking is done online, in fact I can’t remember the last time I used a bank teller. How about you?

I’d really like to recommend Doug Belshaw’s blog. Doug is a very sensible person when it comes to digital technologies, he’s not over the top but he doesn’t put them down when it’s not necessary. Go and have a look I’m sure you’ll like some of the stuff he talks about.

I just could not resist giving you a link to this video. What a great way of meeting people – someone should really start it off here. It is obviously what QR codes were made for :)

Here we are again …

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Hello everyone! Here we all are again being very, very busy in Freshers Week. All the oldies settled back in last week and are now back in study mode, whilst everyone new to this game is wandering around looking slightly dazed :) Welcome to you all whether you are returning or have just arrived!

First of all I have a tip for anyone having difficulty finding the login page for the UW wireless network. Just type in bsc2.worc.ac.uk if you are on the St John’s campus or bsc4.worc.ac.uk if you are on City campus and that should take you straight to the login page. Do let me know if you have any problems at all.

As it’s a special day I have five items for you. The first is about E-skills; whether you are just interested in doing things with your computer or you are ICT student this site has lots of things to try out. The next is another thing to play with or you could use it as a different presentation device. The site is GoAnimate! go and try your hand at creating animated videos.

The next two are a little more serious. The web2rights.com contains lots of information about IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) which can help you understand all about Referencing for when you do your assignments. Something more to help with your assignments is the Learn Higher site on Academic Writing. There’s loads on this site so do check it out.

Hope you’ve all had a great day today :)

Happiness is a warm computer

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I hope you are all prepared for tomorrow – it is supposed to be very, very wet! Get your sou’wester and galoshes out folks :)

Just to make you feel really cheerful I bring you a post from The Thesis Whisperer. It’s all about getting in the doldrums when you are working on your thesis but I think the principles can be applied to dissertations too – it’s called The Valley of Shit. Not a very inspiring title but it might just help you get that paper finished rather than throwing up your hands in despair and walking out of the University :)

As I am sure you all know, I am very interested in the use of technology in education, particularly augmented reality and virtual reality. For those of you interested in this sort of thing I thought I’d include a link to a blog I found recently called, Mariis’ explorations of 3D remediation. The post that caught my eye was a discussion on whether Virtual Worlds were games or not – I support the idea that they are communication devices and therefore not games. If you are interested in the academic side of Virtual Worlds and such like you will find this blog and the links from it rather interesting. I found Women Academics in Virtual Environments, a useful ning for getting us girls together :)

Now just a few things to look at for when the sun has come out again and you can go out and play :) How about trying out augmented reality with Junaio? Try out some of the augmented reality already created for you or download the metaio Creator tool and create some of your own. If that doesn’t float your boat how about turning your iPad or iPhone into a remote control and track pad using Mobile Mouse, if you are not already a couch potato this might make you into one – so beware :) If you really can’t be bothered with all that and just want to relax with a good book you might prefer this instead. Try out Free Books, download the app and search away to your heart’s content.

Hope you all have a lovely wet Thursday :)

Augmenting reality

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So pleased that today we have slightly better weather – may be we will have a summer after all :)

I’ve been thinking about augmented reality a lot lately. I certainly feel as if it is the next “thing”, augmented reality seems to be popping up everywhere these days. The Horizon report says that it thinks augmented reality will be one of the next big technologies.

At the end of April the ICTmagic blog wrote this post on The Rise of Augmented Reality in Education. Lots here to read about and to try out – I like the explanation of augmented reality by Commoncraft but it was created in 2010 and things have moved on really quickly. The glasses talked about in the Commoncraft video already exist. Do go and try out some of the apps suggested in the blog. I’d love to know how you get on – create a video of your achievements and I’ll post it here :)

What I find really interesting is what is going on in the printing industry with augmented reality. It is so much easier to understand how something works if you can see it in 3D and walk around it. This post from Augmented Planet is about the Sappi Guide to Design and Print but especially the part on augmented reality. I’m sure lots of you would love to try this out. As before if you make a video of your creations, send it in and I’ll put it on the blog.

I’m just putting this idea in to find out if any of you think this would be useful. The E-LiME blog posted an item about improving learning repositories. Natalie suggested that learning repositories should be more like Slideshare or Vimeo, etc. For example, you could easily share what you find using social media buttons. Read Natalie’s post and let me know what you think.

Post holiday mutterings

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Ah well here we are back again at the factory :) I hope you are all beavering away at your end of semester papers – good luck everyone :)

Let me see if I can find a few light weight things to keep you amused over a cup of coffee. One thing I think you all might be interested in is this piece of research about information overload – I promise it’s not heavy, it’s on the BBC News site. It will help you to understand why it is that drawing pictures or diagrams helps you to understand things.

Now here’s something you might like – screen sharing. Just make sure you have java installed on you machine (the site will walk you through installation) and then you can use screenleap to share each others screens. If you are having problems using Excel or something just share your screen with your friends and they can show you how to get it to work. Trying to make your mind map make sense (?) share your problem with your friends with out leaving you desk.

If you are into old news reels, European history or modern languages you must go to EUscreen. Lots and lots of great old film and a chance to practice your conversational French, German, Italian, etc. You’ll love it :)

Aggression and citations

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Ummm, so many interesting things, where should I start. Oh yes, let’s do the really serious stuff first.

This video on YouTube by Richard Bacon from the BBC gives you lots to think about. Richard has been targeted by a cyber bully and wants to find him so he can talk to him face to face. Richard also talks to some other people who have bullied online. What do you think – is this type of behaviour ok or should we cyber-writers make the bullies sit up and take notice of, what is usually, the silent majority.

Something for the historians out there. 2014 will be the centenary of World War One and there’s loads of stuff happening on the web. This site is run by University of Oxford in collaboration with JISC. If you have something you’d like to contribute to the site why not contact them (details on the web site).

Finally another JISC funded project, this time at University of Bristol. The m-biblio Project aim is to create an app that allows “smart phones to be used for the recording and organisation of bibliographic information for students within a library context“. See if you agree with some of the comments the Bristol students have made. If you have a new idea add your comment here :)

Where we are

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I’ve been working with students and talking to others in Second life today. Second Life is a communication device, it lets us see representations (avatars) of one another, it enables us to talk in text or voice (to groups or individuals), and it gives people the opportunity to build things together, so people can create together anything from art to rapid prototyping. All of this at the click of a button and from anywhere in the world at any time. This tool thus lends itself to teaching (amongst other things), as an acquaintance from Arkansas State University demonstrated for me with the teacher training course they run completely in SL. I don’t intend to dwell on Second Life and how some are doing more with it than others but all this rather got me thinking about communication and communication methods these days.

Like most other people these days I use a whole range of devices from the physical to the virtual to communicate for work, rest and play. We are all Tweeting, Texting and Scoopiting to our heart’s content, all day. We are communicating at a level of incidence never seen before and we are communicating about all sorts of things. Anything we can think about:

The above list does not include, of course, all of that everyday communication we carry on all the time with our bank or the local government (for example about housing) or the national government (for example pension claims) or the NHS (for example making appointments at the hospital).

So if we can’t communicate properly in the modern world, using modern devices of communication we will not only, not know what is happening, more importantly we will not be able to let people know what is happening with/to us.

Indulging Digital Literacy

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Sometimes I just feel the need to get back to the roots of my subject. It is often easier to say what Digital Literacy is NOT rather than what it is. Gavin Dudeney always has something interesting to say and he hits the nail on the head with this. I think you will find this video of him, from the end of last year, at the British Council worth watching. The video is called, Teaching English but it’s about Digital Literacy. You do have to pause it to look at the other three videos he mentions and to read the questions – the video editor clipped them a bit short.

I like EdJudo, it’s a blog about supporting technology in high schools (so it’s American) but even though it focuses on school there is a lot here that can be used in Higher Education. The page I’m directing you to has a massive list of apps and, having looked through them, I know there are some here that will be of use to you, and fun. I like playing with the 3D stuff, and you can do more serious things with Blender.

I’ll try to find some more things for you to do next week. Have fun over the weekend :)

Better now thank you :)

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So much better now – no hot eyes or aches and pains, hurrah!

I’m currently writing (trying to write?) a Social Media Guideline for Learning and Teaching. As a part of this process I’ve been looking around at the advice other universities give and at what teachers have to say about using social media. I like this post from the Teaching the Teacher blog. Stephanie writes about, “when fear extinguishes innovation” for student teachers. I think the student teachers amongst you will enjoy reading Stephanie’s post and the comments it has received. I, for one, can’t agree with her more :) Do have a read and let me know what you think.

For you history students out there, here is an article from the American journal, the Chronicle of Higher Education. History academics are renowned for not being frightfully interested in anything technological, at least as far as their teaching is concerned. This phenomenon exists on both sides of the pond, it doesn’t seem to matter if you are American or British. Most people won’t know Daniel J. Cohen but he is one of the people who is trying to change all that. Prof. Cohen works at George Mason University where he manages the George Mason Centre which produced PressForward, Zotero and Omeka (all of which I think I have mentioned before on this blog). Do read the article and tell me what you think. Will the history discipline be improved by moving into the digital age or will it destroy something unique?

Now something for everyone but especially for those of you interested in programming or teaching programming. The world now has a very tiny computer which costs about £25, it is called the Raspberry Pi. The original idea was to find something that would enable young people to play with programming on a computer that cost very little – most modern computers just don’t provide that opportunity. Read about the Raspberry Pi Foundation and the launch of the computer here. I rather like the idea of a real computer about the size of my bank card – I can see all sorts of things taking off from this development – how exciting :)

Eyes like poached eggs

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Right guys just three things for you today ‘cos I have a headache, and eyes like poached eggs.

The first item is a video (possibly a bit long) from one of the big names in virtual reality, Jeremy Bailenson. Prof. Bailenson is the Director of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab (VHIL) at the Stanford University. Bailenson recently wrote a book with Prof. James Blascovich from University of California, called Infinite Reality: Avatars, Eternal Life, New Words and the Dawn of the Virtual Revolution. In the video Bailenson talks about some of the issues raised in the book – do watch, even just a little of it, it helps in understanding just how far we have travelled in the last few years.

Next up is Videolicious, this looks like fun. Take a few of your dreadful videos and pictures, pull them together with the aid of this app, put some voice over them and presto! You have something worth showing people :)

Last, I thought I would try to get some feedback from you all. Read this article from Mark Smithers and tell me if you think, “lecture capture the single worst example of poor educational technology use in higher education?” Do you like lecture capture? Read what Mark says and see if you agree with him or not. Your feedback could really help lecturers to give you what you want.

To be or not to be …

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I am often torn about how serious, or not, I should be on this blog. I mostly try to keep things fairly light, interesting and even, dare I say it, fun. However, there are times when I feel there is little out there in the metaverse but serious stuff (times when I often choose not to blog). I tend to err on the side of, “if you can’t say anything real nice, it’s better not to talk at all …”. Today though I think I will say a few serious things just to try to press home what this “Digital Literacy” stuff is all about.

I’d just finished the Research Seminar for February in Second Life at lunchtime and I thought I’d have a look at what was going on in the rest of the world (I mean the corporeal one not the virtual). I opened Twitter and was immediately bombarded by loads of Tweets on copyright issues (these are always very busy streams within Twitter). One Tweet on Digital Literacy though caught my eye from Catherine Cronin from the National University of Ireland. Catherine was Tweeting about a post on the ICTology blog about finding out what Digital Literacy means by analyzing one Tweet. Do read the blog – Ismael Peña-López takes apart one Tweet from Brian Lamb at the University of British Columbia to show just what skills are needed to be a member of the digital world we all, increasingly live in these days.

Moving on from that rather pleasant idea I then came across two items. The first was about Pinterest and the copyright infringement problems it is currently wrestling with. This problem is analyzed by Martin Sloane on the Brodies Law Firm blog (they’re in Scotland), TechBlog. Trying to follow the ins and outs of this problem is also a Digital Literacy issue, any of us could find ourselves caught up in this weird world of digital copyright law – apps like Pinterest are very popular and can be very effective for promoting organisations. What the outcome will be of this tussle is going to be interesting – for all of us. The second was another copyright issue, this time about photography. “Do you need permission to take a photo with a chair in it“. The world is a smaller place these days and we have to be conscious of how laws in other countries affect us. The copyright law and the design rights law in France are clashing over this problem of a photograph of a “designer” chair (designed by someone who worked with Le Corbusier). This is not an unknown issue of copyright law – photographing “famous things” for profit requires the permission of the designer of the “famous thing”. What everyone is complaining about is that the effect of this is to restrict/reduce creativity, the very thing that copyright is supposed to protect and encourage. Read the article you can tell why the photographers are upset.

What does all this mean for the average man in the street? It means that these days he has to be Digitally Literate just as in the past he had to be able to read and write.

Sleep well everyone :)

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