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 :)

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.

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 :)

Things to do from your sick-bed :)

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Here I am, risen from my sick-bed – well not quite, I’m feeling a lot better now. It’s not only computers that can’t function normally when invaded by a virus, organic things are affected just the same unfortunately :) Despite an impaired functionality I will try to create some satisfactory input for you.

I have recently been introduced to the Podcast Gallery. I have found this an excellent resource; especially when you don’t have the energy to raise even an e-book in front of your face :) I did a search for BBC and came up with a very large collection of podcasts which I recommend whole heartedly.

Just for some fun I thought I’d include a link to the xkcd site. There are some great cartoons on xkcd though you might find some of the humour a bit strange if you are not into science and maths.

If you are a blogger and you want to learn more about how to personalise your WordPress blog you will find the Daily Post at WordPress.com very helpful. The one I have linked to is the Introduction from January but you might know enough about branding to start off at Let’s get visual 101.

I quite often find that I would like to be able to just copy and paste between my different machines, e.g. from my phone to my Mac. I found something today that can do just that clippick. You can copy and paste from any device, any platform or any app, try it out, I think you will be surprised just how often you will use it.

I just love TypeDrawing – I don’t think it is academically of much use to you but it looks like fun and you never know it might be useful for a presentation. You can download version 3 from the App store for either your iPhone or your iPad.

I never have really liked the term e-safety, it is far too simplistic, I much prefer the term used by Jisc, online responsibilities. If you want to check up on what your responsibilities might be in relation to e-safety go and have a look at the Jisc Infokit, What is e-safety and why should we do it.

Just as a final note, if you are looking for Royalty Free music or sound effects try the Partners in Rhyme site.

Publish and be damned?

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I try very hard to keep this blog fairly light but there are times when I just have to speak out and this is one of them.

There is so much going on about Open Access, publishing, copyright, etc that I felt I must write something about it all. Lots of us get very cross about everything involved with publishing – it’s not surprising. For some academics it is part of their livelihood, for others it is about getting their research recognised in the “correct” way, for most other people it is something really annoying that gets in the way of getting their job done and for some it is an ethical issue that strikes at the core of their beliefs. So not a small issue for any of us. As the title to the blog today implies, this post is all about getting published.

As most of you know I’m a follower of The Thesis Whisperer, otherwise known as Dr Inger Mewburn. Inger has guests on the blog who write some very interesting posts, I have found this current post (To Posh to Promote) and the comments that follow fascinating. Evelyn Tsitas, the author, is known for being outspoken – which isn’t a bad thing. I would love to read her PhD thesis as it’s on werewolves, vampires and the nature of being human (wow I would like to have written on that). Inger’s own post on the PhD2Published blog is also critical of those who will not/cannot engage with modern technologies to promote themselves and their ideas. I agree a lot with most of what Evelyn and Inger say but I think we should give far stronger support to a call for universities to help, people to develop modern communication skills. People should have the opportunity to experience all sorts of communication in university whether it is blogging, micro-blogging, streaming video or 3D communication environments.

Another of my favourite blogs is from the LSE (London School of Economics). I nearly always find their posts to be extremely good reads, as I have this time. This post, The politics of the public eye, by Melonie Fullick, a PhD student at York University, Canada, is excellent. One of the reasons that people do not blog or use other modern communication media is because they are frightened that “bad things” will happen. Melonie’s post acknowledges this fear, discusses it and argues for the support that a good online, social network give. Melonie also identifies the elephant in the room – the question of what universities and academics are here for – aren’t we the ones who are supposed to, ask the difficult questions, be controversial, open up issues for discussion?

Now, to get away from being quite so serious here are a few things I think you will like to look at. First a video from the Open Access publishers BioMed Central. If you are not sure what all this Open Access and research stuff is about this video will help you understand it – a very good summary of OA from the RCUK supported by Springer. Next on my list of interesting things is a little promotion for Snagit. I find this little programme really useful, I use it all the time for all sorts of stuff – have a go. After you have tried out Snagit you can read these two articles from JISC Inform – great stuff, easy to read, very interesting. There is this piece on Learning in Adverse Weather (I just love that title lol), then some future gazing with, Coming soon… Can you see yourself using any of the things they mention? If you haven’t heard of the Khan Academy you should have done. This is their YouTube channel – see if you can find a session here that is useful to you, I bet you will. Finally a slide show for you about Maximising the potential of your network. Most of the slides are self-explanatory so, even though it does not have a voice over, this is one slide show I don’t mind promoting.

Have a lovely Easter :)

Media and pretty robots :)

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I am meeting with some research students later on today and that rather has me thinking about research type things. So first I’m going to write about some social media and research, some of it might be more interesting to researchers but there’s lots here for everyone else too :)

I started thinking about social media first of all and that brought me to this site where there is an infographic about how people in HE use social media as part of learning. Have a look, do you use social media like this or do you do something more? Here are two pieces from the BishopBlog, the first is how not to get a research proposal accepted and the second is on how to bury your research. Really good stuff and well written too. The final article is a discussion on the LSE blog about why blogging is important for academics. Sit down with a cup of coffee for this one it’s a bit long but very worth reading.

No for the fun stuff. The first thing I looked at was an article on Google Glasses. There is a great video at the beginning of this article which you must watch. My first reaction was, “why is it just the women doing the shopping”? Just look at the comments following the article – very good :) As most of you who are regular readers of this blog will know I love robots Asimo, dear pretty little Nao and now this very life-like one from Kokoro – fantastic! Are any of you robot makers? If you are send me a picture of your robot and I’ll put it on the site :)

I’ve decided that I’m going to try out Issuu, I’ll let you know how I get on :)

What is this DL thing?

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I’m running a bit late today, I’ve been looking for natural science, science research bloggers. Yes I know they are few and far between but they are out there :) Now for something for the rest of us!

When people talk about DL it often seems that the most important topic is safety. I think safety is important but it is not the only thing we should be focusing on. This journal post from the “I need a library job” journal is about using LinkedIn to help you find a job. This is not an activity that should be left until the end of your degree to work upon!

Some people might think that this next subject is not about DL but DL is about being able to function in this new digital world we are in. Such things as digital Wearables are changing the way we live and work. We need to be aware of what is just around the corner. Watch the video and listen to what the people in the know have to say on the matter :)

People often ask about how to write online. This post on the Langwitches blog will be really helpful if you have ever asked this question. If you want to you can download the info so you can go back and read it off-line too.

For those of you who might have a little time to spare there are two online courses you can follow to help improve your DL skills and knowledge. The courses are provided buy TechSets and start on July 8th this year.

Just to finish off I thought I’d also mention the Jisc Content site a resource for, “Digital collections and archives for learning, teaching and research”. Loads of interesting stuff here, take a look even if you don’t need something just at the moment. This is a really good site to put on your Bookmarks for Favourites.

Open(ing) and closing

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Wow, it’s March already! That caught me unawares, the last time I looked it was February and still winter – now it’s spring :)

Unfortunately Twitter have decided that they are going to kill off TweetDeck. Outrage! I hear you cry – yes indeed. TweetDeck is far better than Twitter’s own interface and, unlike many programmes that offer the same facilities, it is free. However, come the end of May TweetDeck, and all of its apps, will be gone. The best I can suggest in its place is Hootsuite (I used this before I used TweetDeck), I expect it will be the one I will use. This post by Kevin Allen gives you lots of advice about the alternatives available to you. Don’t let your networks disappear – take a look and make up your own minds before May when TweetDeck will start to be shut down.

If you are interested in all sorts of, free, online courses then take a look at this post about 700 of them :) There are some really good lectures, by well-known speakers listed here. Some are old recordings but still very useful. You are bound to find something helpful.

Open Learning Week starts on Sunday March 10th through to March 17th. All you educationalists out there are sure to be interested in one of the webinars. As this is an international thing you might want to check that the webinar is in a language you speak :)

Not only is it spring but all sorts of new things are on the horizon. Just look at Leap Motion on the video in this article from Huffington Post. I can’t wait to try one of these :)

What can’t you do online?

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I’ve found quite a hotchpotch of things for you all today. In fact I didn’t find the first item, that came via Paul Williams.

This Prezi is from Royal Holloway, University of London. A great resource for research students and undergrads alike. I’m sure you will like it and the funny video near the end :)

I’m guess by now that everyone knows what Creative Commons Licenses are. The CC organisation gets involved in all sorts of things like the Open Data Hackathon earlier in February and the EasyBib Webinar on Thursday 21st. On the site the time says 4pm ET, for us that means 21:00 hrs (9pm). Even if you don’t join in do go and listen to everyone talking about the Open movement.

And now for something completely different :) If any of you are interested in Web Analytics, for example finding out more about your own footprint in Twitter or you want to do some research about networking/social media, you might like to have a look at some of these programmes. Some of them are aimed at commercial sites but that is no reason why they cannot prove useful to people in HE. Some are free – check them out:

    • TwitSprout will collect information and create diagrams from Twitter and Facebook
    • Netlytic will find and automatically analysis and discovery social networks from electronic communication such as emails, forums, blogs and chats.
    • followerwonk will find out all about your own Twitter account
  • There are lots more but I think the above will give you some insight into the sort of thing that can be done :)

    Finally something which I think is charming. It shows just how comfortable we are all becoming with technology, the children in this post are not just Digitally Literate they are Digitally Fluent :)

    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 :)

    The things people do

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    Is the weather going to improve at last! All this wet is so boring – spring showers I can put up with but the last week has just been ridiculous! Never mind, today the sun keeps popping out and things look a little more promising :)

    I’ve been analysing the results from the Digital Literacy Survey and I find it quite strange how few people blog. Students, lecturers and other staff it’s all the same, regardless of gender, very few people blog. I quite enjoy blogging, it’s fairly creative and sometimes it even helps to wake me up a bit :) Martin Weller also likes blogging, he has written a post on the Virtues of Blogging as a Scholarly Activity – he’s been blogging for six years now and reckons it’s the best academic decision he’s ever made. I don’t know if I would go that far but blogging has certainly widened my academic network. It’s a good thing to practice getting out there and putting some thoughts on your subject, your studies or your hobby out into the big wide world. It helps you to become more confident in about presenting your own ideas, it develops your writing skills and helps you to find your “voice”, the identity you want to portray online. Blogging isn’t just for lecturers, it’s for everyone – a uniquely simple way of engaging with the rest of the world.

    I found this post from Rose Wintergreen really interesting and moving. We all get miserable and doubt ourselves and our abilities at times and Rose has caught this perfectly in this post on Creativity and Misery. Do read it and the following comments, if you are feeling a bit low it will make you feel better :)

    So you see you can write about anything. Remember to link your blog to Twitter, Facebook and any other social media you use – you will attract more viewers and followers that way.

    I wrote a little about bullying and bad behaviour online a few posts ago. I thing the work that journalism students at Michigan State University are doing on their anti-bullying site is great. The New Bullying is about cyberbullying and is produced as both a web site and a book which you can download. Although the videos are about school children, bullying occurs everywhere and to anyone – even people who think they are quite strong. May be the information these journalism students provide might be able to help you or a friend.

    I have written before about networks for academics and researchers but I thought you might all be interested in this post about just how popular these all are. Read the post, Social Networks for Academics and go and join some of the networks it links to.

    For those of you in history or archaeology, you might find this new, free, online book interesting. Archaeology 2.0: New Tools For Communication and Collaboration, is all about using new technologies in archaeology.

    Keep your fingers crossed that it stays dry tomorrow – some sun would be nice too :)

    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 :)

    It’s all chchchchanges :)

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    On my travels the other day I found the Historypin. If you are either into history or photography go and have a look, it’s a sort of Pinterest mixed with Retronaut and Google maps – really good fun.

    As usual I’ve been keeping an eye open for what other folks are doing – if it might be of any interest to us here at the Uni, I grab it. I think this article from the Journal of Medical Internet Research might interest some of you – an article about the relationship of citations of a research paper can be predicted by Tweets about the paper – “Highly tweeted articles were 11 times more likely to be highly cited“. So quick, go and get your friends to Tweet about that article you just had published :)

    On the same (slightly connected) subject of medicine, there is an awful lot of augmented and virtual reality used in healthcare. I like this new programme, called ProtoSphere, by the ProtonMedia company from Pennsylvania. As the video at the bottom of the page shows, it’s rather like a very limited, medics only version of a Virtual World :)

    In a similar way there is also ARCH-Virtual: architecture and design in virtual worlds – not architecture and design for virtual worlds but using a virtual world for corporeal world work. Take a look at the three examples given on this page and take a look at their homepage. Fantastic for all sorts of design work whether it’s buildings, science or furniture.

    It all goes to show just how quickly the way we work, learn and live is changing so quickly! :)

    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.

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