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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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Brain fodder

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Here are just a few items to keep you from falling asleep over your breakfast ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 Lifeยฎ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

To begin with here is a chance to win a ยฃ5K 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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.

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

    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 ๐Ÿ™‚

    Games, Apps and Art

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    What a change in the weather! Besides releasing QuileR and SAM I’ve been really busy talking with people about how they are using digital technologies. I’ve been talking to Dr Geoff Kohe and Helen Corke in Sports and Exercise Science, Kay Stonham the Teaching Fellow in Scriptwriting in the Institute of Humanities and Creative Arts and Jenny Edwins Senior Lecturer and Admissions Tutor in Midwifery. They are all such busy people and having wonderful ideas about how to use social media with colleagues and students.

    With my mind honed in on digital media I could not help but notice the Scoop.it site Digital MediaArts Numeriques. There are loads of interesting links on this site, it seems to overflow with excitement. A few news items are written in French, so it’s handy if you have that as a second language. If you are into art go and have a look.

    Just have to tell you about this new game! The academic paper about it is here in PLoS one if you would like to read it. Frederick Chen, an economist at Wake Forest University in North Carolina and his colleagues are using the game to find out about people’s choices when faced with an epidemic/ potential epidemic. Another great way to use virtual worlds for research purposes ๐Ÿ™‚

    If you are more technically minded you might be interested in writing an App for a mobile device. This list of tutorials could prove very useful to you. You have to search around a bit on some of the sites to find the actual tutorial but all the same it should prove fun to play with.

    ok folks, enjoy trying out these links, I’m off for a cuppa ๐Ÿ™‚

    Curl up by the fire :)

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    When it’s snowing and freezing outside all I really want is to find somewhere to snuggle up. So today I’ve tried to find some things you can do and some you can read all whilst curled up by the fire ๐Ÿ™‚

    Some of you might remember this device in its first incarnation – the virtual keyboard. This Magic Cube keyboard looks much nicer, in fact rather cute. If you have a tablet or a very small keyboard that is difficult to type on, why not invest in one of these little things. It fits into your pocket really easily and you don’t have to worry about dripping coffee on your keyboard ๐Ÿ™‚

    I follow Anna Christina Pratas in both Scoop.it and Twitter, she always finds loads of stuff. As you would expect with “loads of stuff” some of it is really useful and some of it not so much. Anna now has a Live Binders site. I’m not sure just how useful Live Binders is as a programme in its self but I’m sure Anna will have lots to interest you. You can look at anything from Creative Twitter Tools to Writing (for University), just click on a folder then select what you want from the links provided.

    This is especially for students. If you have already sorted out your diary for all your different timetables (classes, exams, assignment submissions) on your iPhone or iPad then possibly you won’t need the iStudiez Pro app. At only ยฃ1.99 it could be worth looking at. Lots of people are saying how helpful they have found it to keep themselves organised for the academic year. Let me know if you try it – may be you could do a write-up for SAM ๐Ÿ™‚

    If you are interested in writing you might like to get started on writing your own ebook by using Papyrus. The company’s Facebook page provides some interesting reading and tips on how to use your blog to get started. Papyrus is basically a text editor, just like Microsoft Word, thus the interface is fairly familiar and should not stop those creative juices from flowing!

    This app looks interesting, especially for those of you who are into producing your own music or music show. Spreaker for iPad is an app that lets you use your iPad as a sound production board. You can either record your production or you can set up your own radio station, through Spreaker, and broadcast live!! I can’t see any costs on their website so I guess you must have to accept advertisements. Check it out and, if your start running your own station, I’ll do a write-up about it and may be put in a link to it.

    Good luck everyone, don’t break a leg in the snow ๐Ÿ™‚

    Just a couple of boards – no nails :)

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    Wow! Just look at the time – didn’t realise it was getting so late. ok I just have two things for you today which I’m sure some of you are going to find interesting.

    ShowMe is a smashing Apple App that is like having an interactive whiteboard on your iPad screen which you can share with all your friends. In this Vimeo video you see it being used with school children but there is no reason why it should not be used in Higher Education. ShowMe is a free App and you and a group of friends or colleagues can set it up yourselves, it does not have to be initiated by the University or the Department.

    If you do not have an iPad do not despair there is another free app you can use ๐Ÿ™‚ RealtimeBoard is another interactive whiteboard app but this one works on the web so you can use your usual laptop or desktop computer. RealtimeBoard seems to be aimed more at business people but again there is no reason why HE should not use it too. Go and have a look at the video there are lots of things you can use it for and it is very easy to invite others to join in with you.

    Have fun – this stuff doesn’t have to be used for serious things ๐Ÿ™‚

    Ahh – what it is to be a scholar :)

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    I’m busy creating another blog (it will be called, “On being scholarly”) – I’ll be using it to demonstrate how to work with WordPress – I’ll be putting the videos on Quiler, our searchable database of help. If you want a video on how to use an aspect of a program or app let me know and I’ll see if a video can be created for you ๐Ÿ™‚

    I have four items for you today. I think all of you working in any type of science subject will find Utopia Docs really useful. Utopia is a way of making pdf documents much more helpful. There is a video to show you how it works but be warned … before you can use Utopia you have to Register with their site. Registering doesn’t cost anything but it is really confusing, tortuous and badly explained. I’ll try explaining just in case it helps. When you have installed Utopia you will find the shortcut in the Start menu (don’t ask me why it is not put on your desk top). Open the program and go to the Edit menu – click on Preferences. In the Preferences pane click on Register, you will then receive an email that you have to acknowledge. After all that, try this journal article for a demonstration. Save the document to your computer, open Utopia and open the pdf from the Files menu. Why anything to do with science has to be so difficult I really don’t know ๐Ÿ™‚ !

    This one is much easier to use! It is called, “thou shalt not commit logical fallacies”. If you have ever had trouble trying to work out if someone’s argument is valid or not have a look at this site. All types of fallacious arguments are explained with really good examples. All you have to do is to click on the icons to see the explanation – super!

    The next two items are from blogs, the very much respected Thesis Whisperer and Networked Researcher. The post in Thesis Whisperer is entitled, Dear Thesis Whisperer, I have Stockholm Syndrome”. This is a very insightful and amusing article about what it is like when you finish your PhD. In fact, whilst not belittling the awfully hard work that goes into gaining a PhD, I think anyone who has worked hard for any type of academic degree will recognise the feelings described to some extent. A great article and a very enjoyable read. The post in the Networked Researcher is very different. This article is one of a series of peer interviews “with fellow researchers embracing social media and online publishing”. This first interview is with Lee Skallerup Bessette. I think you will find this interview very interesting for a number of reasons. If you are interested in social media in academia or if you are interested in how to write your own blog or start your own business. Lee just talks about it all so honestly, it really raised my spirits – hope you all enjoy it too ๐Ÿ™‚

    Getting creative with it :)

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    I think I’ve been a little on the serious side for the last couple of posts so I’ve been looking for some apps for you.

    First a quote from a site, “ve.rbatim lets you view and browse the same website at the same time with your friends, family and co-workers. It’s a whole new way to share information.” I haven’t tried this one out on a mobile device yet but it seems to work just fine on my desktop. Ve.rbatim is, ummm – a thing, you don’t have to download anything. Go to the ve.rbatim.com website, click on “start a session”, give yourself a name, then invite your friends to surf the web with you. You will be able to see the cursors of everyone and use the chat window to talk. Great for serious stuff like going over an article together or for something more fun like planning a day out Ve.rbatim say that you can have two or two hundred on together at any one time. They do warn that not all websites are compatible with ve.rbatim so let me know how you get on with it.

    For those of you who want the whole online whiteboard (including website browsing) to support your online meeting, try using Twiddla. As they say on the site, “it’s free, it’s quick and you don’t have to sign up”.

    For those of you who like using PowerPoint you might find this video interesting. The video explains how to create an animated children’s story. Even if you are not into story telling it will help you to get to grips with using animations in PowerPoint.

    This webpage explains how to go about creating an ebook and provides all the links you need to help you get published. So if you think you are a budding author, get writing ๐Ÿ™‚

    To support all of this creative stuff you are doing you might want some online images and sound that you can use. For images and sound you can try the Creative Commons search site. You might think iStock is just for images but it also provides audio too. If you want some sounds for your PowerPoint try “free Powerpoint templates“.

    Finally, just for fun, you might like to try writing a comic. If you can create something really witty I’ll put a link to it ๐Ÿ™‚

    I hope I’ve made up for my lack of, things-to-do, links. I’ll see what else I can find.

    Some good reads with a cup of cocoa :)

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    What ghastly weather! Now is the time when you should be tucked up with a good book, a mug of cocoa and a roaring fire. Not quite what I have at this very moment but I do have lots of goodies for you to read on your iPad or hot PC ๐Ÿ™‚

    The first App I have for you is sweet – Piktochart provides you with everything you need to make your own infographics and it’s really, really simple, hurrah! I like simple and I like it even better when it is either free or has a good financial offer for those in education and Piktochart has both – good yeh?

    The next thingy I have is for those of you who are a little more experienced with computers and have a web site of your own. Google Chart Tools is in the Google Developers area of their site. Take a look then, copy the code, paste it into your web site and, if you want, run the data from your database. Presto you have your own data chart on your own web site and it changes as your data changes!

    Now I usually try to find three or four things to put on the blog for you so what else is there that might tickle your fancy on this nasty, cold, wet night.

    Oh yes, Introduction to Blogging. I rather like this as I think it will save me time when people say, why on earth should I blog. This little infographic very neatly explains just why blogging is useful and how it develops into something special. It does all that without making any real effort – nice ๐Ÿ™‚

    Now for something a little more serious. If you or a friend have any problems with reading or writing using modern technologies have a look at this web page. This web site has a really long title but it is all about supporting Universal Access. All the Apps mentioned are for iPad or iPhone and most of them are free or are very, very cheap. I’ve looked at them and some I think can be useful, others not so much. There is also a link to a page with the same type of Apps but for PCs and Macs, just in case you do not have a mobile device.

    As a final and very serious note, if you are interested in the wider issue of Universal Access, you might like to look at this site too.

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