The complex and the simple

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What do I have for you all today? To start with here is an article from the University of East Anglia (UEA) INTO Partnership. Tim Powell-Jones has introduced the use of iPads to the International Business Diploma programme, he is really pleased with the results. Have a read and see if you think iPads would be useful as part of your course.

Paul Williams suggested this next piece from the Guardian to me. I must admit that, like Paul, I get very frustrated by the whole ebook/ejournal divide and Digital Rights Management (DRM), there really should be a better way of dealing with ebooks by now. I’m not too sure that I agree with Jefferson Pooley that we should make everything into Portable Document Format (pdf) it’s really difficult to read. On a semi-serious note I don’t even agree with his statement that, “[M]odern academics don’t read supine, snacking on grapes”. I thought modern academics read anywhere. I suppose part of the problem with pdf is that publishers insist on using stupidly old-fashioned layouts and font-faces. With all the clever digital stuff we do now we really should have a better option. Wolfram brought out Computable Document Format (CDF) ages ago, why do we not see more of that for ebooks.

Now for something completely different πŸ™‚ This is a site from the Government of South Australia, it has loads of really useful stuff for those people who would like some basic questions answered. This link is to their information about Skype. Do take a look and encourage other people to make use of it too πŸ™‚


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 πŸ™‚ 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 Β£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 πŸ™‚

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 PeΓ±a-LΓ³pez 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 πŸ™‚

Developing Digital Literacies

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I was going to write about something completely different but then I saw the Tweet in the #jiscdiglit Twitter stream from CosmoCat. I’m not sure if many/any of you are aware that JISC is currently running a Programme called Developing Digital Literacies (unfortunately we were a little too young to join in). The Programme comes under JISC Cetis and on the Programme homepage it says,

“We’re working with colleges and universities to embed core digital skills into the curriculum. By digital literacy we mean those capabilities which fit an individual for living, learning and working in a digital society: for example, the skills to use digital tools to undertake academic research, writing and critical thinking; as part of personal development planning; and as a way of showcasing achievements.”

Which is, more or less, what we are trying to do here at Worcester. (I must say I really dislike the JISC homepages their new sites are much nicer. Have a look at the range of projects in the programme) What CosmoCat drew my attention to was Sheila’s work blog, which provides an excellent round-up of how the programme is progressing so far and what is happening with each of the projects. You can get a good idea of what it is like to work on one of these projects by looking at the blogs from them.

Do go and look at all the information in the links above as it will give you a better idea of what this blog and the Digital Literacy Services in general are all about:)

Umm ebooks

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I’ve been thinking a lot about books just lately. I do buy books in hardcopy, they are very special books, lovingly cared for. Most of the books I buy, for work or just ‘cos I want a good story, are ebooks. These ebooks are books that have to be very portable, books I can put down anytime and pick up again whether I’m on a train or stopped for coffee. I have always read a lot but I think I probably read more now, simply because of ebooks. My phone goes with me everywhere and so my books do too. The end of 2010 saw a massive increase in the purchase of ebooks because of the success of the Kindle, and there is no indication that the rate of increase is slowing down. I’ve been looking at a few sites about ebooks and thought I’d share them with you.

I sometimes think that people have a conception of ebooks as just being like any other book but produced electronically. This isn’t so, publishers are working hard to produce books that have more interaction and more features than hardcopy books do. This graphic that I found on Tony Bates blog is a little old but it does provide a concise overview of ebooks. the graphic covers 2009-2010 but doesn’t appear to include the massive increase in ebooks at the end of 2010.

There has been some talk around for a while now that Apple has been working on digital publishing for the masses. This article on, “Ars Technica” looks at the latest Apple announcement and I can’t wait to see what follows. There are quite a few links worth following in this article and it provides an interesting read about this subject.

If you’re interested in ebooks, you will really like this site, Perspectives on ebooks. Smashing, just loads of stuff on ebooks, the technology, the publishers, effects on reading, just loads. Have a look, if you hate ebooks it might just change your mind, if you love them already you’ll find lots to interest you. Let me know how you get on πŸ™‚

Nattering about Digital Literacy

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Life is a little more calm today, thank goodness, so I have more time to think about what I’m going to natter to you about.

I notice that the Digital Literacy Campaign in the Guardian has stirred up a lot of discussion. Here are some examples of blogs 1, 2, 3, writing about it. I won’t talk more about the campaign and the issues it raises here as it’s a little too serious for this blog but I will put something on my other blog.

One piece of news that I think you might be interested in is the Digital Rights stuff. You might have heard in the national news way back in November that Richard Hooper has been appointed to lead the Digital Copyright Exchange feasibility study. The idea is that the Copyright Exchange would hold information about copyrighted items and would enable people to contact one another about the copyright on a particular item. This sounds very sensible and very simple but it’s not simple. Do go and read the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) page about the Exchange and contact Richard Hooper from there if you know about something you think he should be aware of.

To finish off I have some free Maps to send your way πŸ™‚ Open, Equal, Free, is a really lovely blog about education. The post about the maps not only provides food for thought but also has a number of links to free stuff! Part of Digital Literacy is about being able to interpret images – to understand what they are saying and how they are likely to influence our thoughts. Maps are very powerful images and they influence not just how we think about the world but also how we think about and behave towards other people in the world. Go and have a look at the post and download your own favourite version of a world map. πŸ™‚

Have to go now and get back to evaluating the results of the Uni’s Annual Digital Literacy survey – we’ll announce the winners soon πŸ™‚

A new semester

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Here we are again at the start of a new semester – all keen to do our best with this new opportunity! Well aren’t you? I’m sitting in a very quiet Pear Tree (no I’m not passing myself of as a partridge!) thinking about all the fantastic stuff I’ve been reading about, which is nice. I’m also trying to sort out the plans I have for work in the coming nine months – which I’m trying to look at through squinted eyes in order not to frighten myself too much πŸ™‚ So let me see, what goodies am I going to bring to you today?

One thing I must remember is to draw your attention to our site. It’s mainly aimed at lecturers – which is fairly obvious ‘cos it’s called, Calling all lecturers. I put at least three new things on there most days, it covers all sorts of stuff to do with, social media, educational technology, pedagogy related to social media, modern technologies, so that means anything from supportive technologies to virtual worlds – go and have a look leave comments and make (polite) suggestions πŸ™‚

Just had a quick look at the Guardian Live Digita Literacy blog and the article. Go and put your own ideas and comments forward – go on – get involved:)

I rather like this post on the cogdogblog. Please read, inwardly digest then see what you come up with. Do we feel compelled make patterns where none exist or are there really patterns in everything around us? Let me know what you think πŸ™‚

Time and tide get your feet wet

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I’ve been looking at some stuff about the changing learning and social world, age, technology and our engagement with technology. Well, that’s my job I suppose but it’s also what fascinates me. There has been a lot of debate about Digital Natives and as far as I’m concerned the idea has been proved to be a myth. This article from The Economist comes from last year, it talks about Digital Natives, etc but there are a few other points it raises that make it interesting beyond that boring topic. About halfway through the article it suddenly asks, “What about politics …”? What the author goes on to argue is that the new media people engage with is not making them more politically aware, in fact the author thinks it is all just a superficial sham. Read the article and let me know what you think.

After I read that article I fell over The Mindset List from Beloit College in America. I think this is very useful, it reminds us that not just every generation but every age views things differently because of what they have grown up with. So each intake of school leavers to University sees the world differently from the previous year’s intake. I think their YouTube video explains it really well – ok it’s American but I’m sure you can see what they are getting at.

Another YouTube video I found was this one by Lou McGill. I suppose this is really aimed at lecturers but I can think of at least on PhD student who will be interested in viewing it. Having discussed this sort of thing with him over coffee on Monday I guess it could have been what sparked off my ideas for this particular blog post. Lou is not unfamiliar to me but I don’t think it’s wrong of me to say that this video is smashing, it really makes you think about how we teach and how we behave with students. Lou talks about a course she has done online, what she experienced,how it made her feel and how it added to her conceptualisation of Digital Literacy. Excellent stuff.

I couldn’t resist bringing you this – just look at this cute little computer, a real Thumbelina πŸ™‚ I want one!

Anything to say?

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I’ve been trying to find something interesting for you all. The advice when blogging is to not just blog for the sake of it but only when you have something to say – so I’ll shut up now … Umm, has anything turned up yet? Ahhh – what’s that on the horizon?

What is that strange animal – an open, open university? I like the idea of helping people to get on the higher education ladder and I applaud the work of the Open University and the provision of Open Educational Resources. I just don’t see how a completely free university can manage to keep going – I know we probably need one but I still haven’t read anything that demonstrates that it is sustainable. What do you all think about open, open universities?

I couldn’t resist including this book in today’s blog. It is so cute as well as clever. What we want are more learning opportunities like this but at a HE level. It would be great for history, archeology, health and drama – just loads of stuff. Do you have any good suggestions ?

Has anyone taken a moment to look at the T-SPARC project (Technology-Supported Processes for Agile and Responsive Curricula), you can find it on the JISC Design Studio site – lots and lots of ideas we can try out from here. More thought-provoking ideas and discussion can be found from a link to a recording of the very interesting Webinar on Curriculum Design: Changing the paradigm which can be found in the top cell of the table on the web page. It takes an age to load so be patient – go and make a coffee whilst it’s loading then sit down, have lunch and listen to the webinar.

I do always have lots to talk about but sometimes I think it would be a bit boring for a lot of you. The more technology (though not difficult) focused stuff, and sometimes more serious stuff, I’m at present putting on the Calling all Lecturers site. Do go have a look if you are into that sort of thing too.

Wow, just look at how much is out there when you really start looking πŸ™‚

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