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 πŸ™‚ Things have changed quite a bit since I first started writing this blog – for one thing people are becoming more aware of what this digital stuff is all about and there are more digital literacy resources around. So over the next three or four weeks I thought I would bring some of the new resources to you.

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

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

Summer siesta

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

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

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

Happy holidays everyone πŸ™‚

Communication, openness and freedom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚

I’ve decided that I’m going to try out Issuu, I’ll let you know how I get on πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚

    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 πŸ™‚

    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 πŸ™‚

    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 πŸ™‚

    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 πŸ™‚

    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 πŸ™‚

    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 Β£1.99 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 πŸ™‚

    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 πŸ™‚

    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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚

    Why technology?

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    Why technology – why want it, why use it, why create it? Technology basically means just anything man-made, now-a-days it tends to mean the most modern man-made things. I’ve found a few things to share with you that, for me, answer the questions I just posed at the beginning of this paragraph.

    This article in the Wall Street Journal by Katherine Rosman is a good example. Katherine writes about an online company called Craftsy, this company sells education in all sorts of crafts. You can learn about “Advanced Fondant Techniques,” “Explorations in Brioche Knitting,” “Mastering Lace Shawls”, “Handcrafted Sugar Flowers” and “Stupendous Stitching” and all for only $20-50. People like to learn, they like to learn how to do things, even very much more expensive courses are successful online. Do read the article it’s fascinating – may be you’ll sign up for one of the classes πŸ™‚ All joking aside though, this article answers so many questions that we might ask about modern technologies – people are using technology to save money, to make money, to have fun, to replace classes that cancelled due to the current financial climate, to help them deal with loneliness and frustration, in fact for all sorts of reasons.

    This next example is particularly interesting for me as it is about how to get helpful information to people quickly – rather like the University’s QuileR site (see the link in our blog roll). The post in the Fast Company blog is actually about how to help the “average” computer user to know how to use their computers more efficiently and, at the end of the post, there are links to some great videos from Google about how to do things. Technology provides not only the means to help people but to do it 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Great reasons for using modern technologies.

    I really like the Retronaut site, they have a wonderful collection of images and do some very clever things with them – things that we just would not be able to do without these modern technologies. The Retronaut site provides us with insights that would not normally be available to us. The images of the WWI soldiers on the particular page I’ve linked to are also an example of things we would not normally have seen.

    This page from Edinburgh University of Undergraduate students’ advice to first year students is another example of something we would never have seen before. The ordinary person just did not get an opportunity to make their voices heard. In the past we would never have heard from individual Undergraduates like this, in fact you probably wouldn’t have heard from Undergraduates at all πŸ™‚ I rather thought that some students here would like to have a go at this sort of thing. If you do, just get in touch with me and I’ll arrange it all.

    Socio-Edu Media?

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    As most of you know I also run the University Scoop.it site called Calling All Lecturers (it’s open to everyone, it’s just more focused on education). This morning I’ve been having a look at some of the other scoop.it sites that I follow and found some things that I’d like to share with you.

    Susan Bainbridge’s scoop.it The 21st Century is always very interesting. From there I picked up on the use of Pinterest in the classroom and I wondered if any of you use Pinterest for your academic work at all. Do you use it to keep track of stuff you find on the web so you can share it with others? Do you create your own things (infographics, mindmaps) about your studies and Pin them? This infographic was on AvatarGeneration where I then found the next item I want to share.

    This is probably not as reliable as Gartner but this infographic is a vision of the future of educational technology – all of you are using some of the things mentioned. Do you think this view of the future is possible or is it just pie in the sky?

    ok, enough of the heavy stuff πŸ™‚ let’s see what else I can find.

    Now this really looks good, they claim that DisplayNote is, “more than just your normal remote desktop application” I wonder if it is real or a scam? DisplayNote an app that could really be of use in a lecture hall or conference – has anyone tried it yet? Students can save presentations to their own devices and make their own notes on them. Students can also send private messages to one another and the lecturer on the same system. No more need for lecturers to print handouts – I’m must have try! I think it is only in Beta version at the moment but they claim that this App can be used by any platform to present and receive from a mobile device – I can’t wait to use it πŸ™‚ Do go and look at their video (link above) and their “About” page.

    That will have to be all for now but I’ll find something else to bring you soon πŸ™‚

    Modern technologies and creativity

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    How did it come to be Monday again? I didn’t notice the weekend go – where did it go? πŸ™‚ To ensure we don’t all fall asleep from Mondayitis I’ll give you a few things to play with and think about – I’m sure you’re going to enjoy that, ummm well …

    Have a look at these cartoons – they are really cute. Larry Cuban creates these cartoon collections on a regular basis and, apart from his blog being interesting, some of these cartoons about children using modern technologies just ring so true – the comments are often good too.

    Some research suggests that using modern technologies can make people more creative but why might we want people to be more creative? I don’t usually recommend viewing a PowerPoint presentation but this one really helps with understanding why people need to learn how to be more creative. The findings are from research done in America so the figures might be slightly different if it was repeated here in the UK. Why don’t you be creative and comment on the findings πŸ™‚

    I was really surprised to find another good PowerPoint explaining what web 2.0 is. If you have ever wondered what the phrase web 2.0 actually means you can find out here. How do you use modern technologies? Are you constantly texting, tweeting, posting to Facebook or your blog, putting your pictures on Pinterest? Is it your way of being creative? Do you link all your social media together? Is it the only way you can achieve a balance between your social and your work life or does it all just get in the way? Would you like to stop doing it all but can’t? Tell me – go on you know you want to really πŸ™‚

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