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 πŸ™‚

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 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.

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™‚

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.

Augmenting reality

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So pleased that today we have slightly better weather – may be we will have a summer after all πŸ™‚

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

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

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

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

Socialise and Learn

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I went on my induction tour for The Hive this morning. Wow – what a beautiful place! Students won’t start using it until July but I think you are all going to enjoy the space and the facilities provided in this L-space place.

Seriously busy friending the students who are joining Second Life at the moment. I offer them a teleport, a chance to join our group and advise them to start friending one another. Social spaces are all about being social and being social supports learning! So start getting out there and being social πŸ™‚ It’s not just research students who have to learn to use digital media, we all do if we want to keep learning and growing through all our life. I found this really useful site about Digital Literacy, CyberWhy-s. I like the videos on the page I’ve just directed you to but there are loads more on this site – I was particularly drawn to the part specially for adults. So useful that it’s all on one site though.

A friend alerted my to an app called that helps you to keep track of all the different social media sites you use (don’t forget the more you socialise the more you learn). This article on the ReadWriteWeb says it is really easy to use – I’m certainly going to give it a try when I have time on the weekend.

Remember to socialise well – follow the advice from my previous post and the Twitter advice from the LSE. You might also like to try using one of these tools from the Educational Technology and Mobile Learning site. I’ve mentioned Scribblr before, ‘cos I think it’s rather neat but you might like to try one of the others too.

Blogs and Blogging

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As you can see from the end of my last post I’ve been looking at how different people and universities are using blogs. I really did like the way Imperial had a group of their students blogging. It would be great if we could get our students blogging like this too – any of you game?

There’s also the way that the University of the Arts in London have created blogs for different parts of their University. The Campus is very widespread, all over London, having these blogs helps to bring them together and let them know about stuff going on everywhere. I don’t think our locations around Worcester are quite so wide spread but you can see how they could get out of touch with one another without the blogs.

The University of Nottingham also has a similar thing where they have a page that brings together all their blogs. There they even get their Vice Chancellor blogging πŸ™‚ They seem to blog about anything and anything from, “A world in crisis” to a “Geog Blog”.

This last one I really like. Can’t remember which of my contacts tipped me off to this one but it’s a smashing idea. It’s called Project 365 and people commit to blogging about one thing for a whole year. Go along and have a look at some of the things people have blogged about. If any of you decide to have a go yourselves let me know and we’ll follow your blog from here. Good luck!

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™‚

Adrift on a choppy sea

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Oh busy, busy days! I think I’m beginning to feel sea-sick – every time I think I’m going to put my metaphorical foot down on something solid, the ground isn’t there! I just keep trying to reassure myself that it will all calm down in the not too distant future – huh who am I kidding πŸ™‚ I’ve made notes about lots of things I want to mention to you – give me a moment whilst I sort through them.

For all of you out there who are struggling with getting down to work. This post from The Thesis Whisperer is for you. Do not worry anymore you are not lazy or lacking in motivation you just have a problem with commitment:) Have a read, it’s good.

UK Access Management Focus (what a name!) blog is part of JISC Advance. It’s not a very regular blog but interesting stuff appears there, like this post. The post doesn’t have a very inspiring title, “How can we create an identity economy for research and education?” but the contents are interesting. The post will probably interest lecturers and students, it’s a discussion about how HE uses the Web, the apparent attitude of the HE community towards the use of online resources. Get back with some thoughts on this – it’s all about Digital Literacy – I’d love to know what you think.

This next piece is about Barcelona putting swipe card facilities in all over the city. I want to know why, if Barcelona can do it why can’t Worcester? πŸ™‚ I would love to be free of cash – ever since they got rid of half-crowns and threepenny bits in 1971 (for those of you who don’t know threepenny is pronounced “thrupenny”)! Have a read – would you like Worcester to have this system too?

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™‚

Mid-week pause

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The last few days have been very busy so I am now going to have a little rest, just talk amongst yourselves for a moment …

I am in the process of reading this very interesting report from JISC about publishing academic ebooks and I came across the University of Michigan’s, MPublishing, free books on Digital Culture. There are some very interesting books in this list – you can read them free online or you can purchase the book if you would like to. I intend to work my way through a number of them, possibly starting with Media, Technology and Society then moving on to the Hyperlinked Society. Let me know if you read any of them and what you think of them – are these types of “free” book useful?

I thought some of you might like to look at this post from the Mind/Shift blog. There are a number of apps here that look like fun especially the first two Scribble and Squad. There’s also a post linked to this about Girls and Maths – have a read. I replaced the word Math with Digital Literacy and found the arguments still hung together:)

I couldn’t resist giving you this to look at. It’s a teaching resource about plagiarism but I didn’t really look at anything except the second slide. There’s a short video on the slide and I think the character in the video is really cute. I put it on the site but have to include it here too.

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™‚

Out and about with Digital Literacy

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Darn it this is still going out at the end of the day! I thought I would have caught up with myself by now πŸ™‚

I’ve found loads of interesting stuff – well it’s interesting to me – I just have to decide which pieces might also be interesting to you. Ummmmmm, I just found a Artrage which looks like fun. If you’ve always wanted to draw and paint but have been a bit anxious about all the mess and the equipment you have to fork out for, have a look at Artrage – I might give this a go after Christmas. If you create anything (artistic that is) over the holidays whether it is in Artrage or digital photos I’ll post the best ones on the blog.

As this is a Digital Literacy blog I suppose I really ought to put some links about the subject as well as the fun things. So what I’ve been looking at today: This Digital Literacy site is American so isn’t completely relevant for us but their Recent Best Practices page is interesting as it covers good practice information from all over the world. If you want to learn a little more about how to use computers try the Microsoft Curriculum. As you’d expect it teaches you how to use Microsoft products but then a lot of people do. I think it’s a bit silly putting something online that tells you how to use a keyboard and mouse but the rest of it is not too bad πŸ™‚ Moving to something with a little more weight, this is CEPIS UPgrade the European Journal for the Informatics Professional. This issue is all about the Greening of Informatics – I might have time to read some of this over the weekend. Last but by no means least have a listen to what the Secretary General of the United Nations has to say about Digital Literacy – don’t say I never bring you anything interesting lol, rofl πŸ™‚

Mind you this might interest some of you. JISC infoNet’s #jiscdiglit updates from projects – there are loads of blogs to follow-up on here. These are blogs from loads of other Universities about what they are doing in relation to Digital Literacy. Some really interesting stuff here for students, lecturers and managers – have a read (that’s an instruction you understand).

Have to mention this before I go. What our desktops will be looking like in a few years time – information via Mashable. Who’s going to own up to wanting one? πŸ™‚ Have a good weekend everyone!

Digital Literacy?

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Just sorting through a load of stuff before I send it off to the printers – I’m sure I’m missing a document but I can’t think what it is :$ I’ll stop thinking about it then I’m bound to remember πŸ™‚

Out and about in the warm pool of the “network” I found this idea from Canada called Knowledge Mobilisation – a much nicer and more pedagogically correct term than Knowledge Transfer. I guess they are both intending to achieve the same ends but Knowledge Mobilisation makes sense to me. It’s what I’m doing right now and it’s a lot about Digital Literacy – it’s about making it easier for everyone to know what it is they need to know in order to survive. And I just love the picture of the pussy cat:)

From the Twitterverse I’ve just been looking at the National Union of Students’ charter on Technology in Education brought to my attention by #jiscl11. Smashing it says nearly everything that the push for improving Digital Literacy says! Excellent! Also could not resist bringing to your attention Dave White’s blog post on the JISC Developing Digital Literacies Program

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!

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