Is this the end?

One of me in SL

This is "me"

Let’s see if I can get through these last two Social Multimedia today. I don’t think I have to dash off to any meetings today so that should help πŸ™‚

I’ll start with Presentation sharing. It’s very basic but it’s often something we need to do as researchers. We get asked to present somewhere and need to leave our slides in a place where the audience can return to them after the presentation. There are loads of other reasons too but I think that’s the most common. I think the one people are most familiar with is SlideShare. SlideShare is very easy to use and, unless you are doing presentations as a business, you only need a free account. SlideRocket is a smashing program, you can have lots of fun playing with it πŸ™‚ You can import a presentation from PowerPoint or you can create on in SlideRocket. There a places where you can store your own images, there are interactions such as “voting” that you can place in your presentation and loads more. The fantastic thing is it’s free πŸ™‚ If you want to use your presentations for working/collaborating/sharing with other people in your discipline SlideRocket is definitely a useful program to consider.

Scibd is really something rather different. Scribd isn’t just for a PowerPoint type presentation, Scribd is for publishing. Write a book if you want to, publish an article or a diary – this is where you can start to get published. Fantastic can’t recommend this enough!

Now we get on to Virtual Worlds. The RIN Social Media guide includes World of Warcraft in this section and although people do use it as a social meeting area I don’t think it’s as much use in that way as some of the OpenSim worlds are (Open Simulator is the platform the worlds are built on). Although the OpenSim worlds are catching up fast the Second Life Virtual World is still streets ahead of the others. Admittedly the graphics in World of Warcraft are better but it is not as flexible as the more community focused Virtual Worlds.

Why would researchers want to use Virtual Worlds? I use Second Life for meeting friends and colleagues from all over the world. I also run a monthly Research Seminar on teaching in Virtual Worlds where international speakers present their research. I tend to like Second Life because it is the most mature world. It’s been around since 2003, there is a general large community and, usually, loads of people from your discipline area. That means there is lots of help and lots of goods for you to buy or to get for free. Why a Virtual World rather than Skype or Blackboard Collaborate? Although there is a fairly steep learning curve in Virtual Worlds (it takes 30-60 minutes for people to feel comfortable when in a supportive group), the majority of people who use them say that they feel far more as if they are “with” the other people than in other media. People who use Virtual Worlds us it for all sorts of reasons and cover a wide range or researchers, educators, service providers, enthusiasts and businesses, for example Healthcare services, IBM, Universities (e.g. Nottingham, Glasgow Caladonian, Imperial College, etc), emergency services, armed forces, music lovers (from Country and Western to Choral music). If you have collaborators from all over the world, you meet frequently, want to display or create things together and want to be able to record your meetings, you should definitely consider a Virtual World. If you are not keen on Second Life I suggest you look at the OpenSim ReactionGrid Virtual World, that is the next one I would choose.

Here endeth our sessions for researchers. Well they are sort of for other people as well but I’ve been trying to remember to explain why these technologies might, especially, be helpful researchers. I’m thinking of picking on Librarians next but do keep following as there are always apps/programs that are useful to all πŸ™‚


Nearly finished research focus

One of me in SL

This is "me"

Today we are going to start looking at Social Multimedia. I’ll start with some stuff that everyone is interested in and end up with some more esoteric stuff – though that might be tomorrow’s blog.

Let’s start with Photography. I really enjoy photography and would love to have time to learn more about it. I don’t share any of my stuff but I do use photo sharing sites to look at and for images. I’ve just joined Flickr and uploaded my first photo – dead simple. You can display your pictures publicly or you can select for just your family or friends to see them. Very useful if you are working with visual stuff. I think the 90 second film limit is a bit stingy – none of my machinima would fit into that length but then it is all free. Another useful program is Picasa, it’s part of the Google suite so if you have an account with them already it will use that one to enroll you. Just download Picasa and you can start organising your photos. Picasa can keep all your photos in one place, it lets you edit them, you can also use Picnik (an online editor) and you can then select photos to upload to the web. A really handy set of tools if you want something that’s free and don’t want to spend time learning how to use Photoshop or such like. SmugMug is great but it is really for more professional photographers. Although you can have a 14 day free trial you have to pay even for the smallest package, though that is only $5 per month (that’s about Β£3). However, it does look fantastic and does provide excellent services. You can buy and sell your photos and much more on the site and it is all backed up and provides a wide range of privacy settings.

Sorry, had to dash off to a meeting. I’ll carry on with this tomorrow:)

Hooked on technology

One of me in SL

This is "me"

I admit it, I’m not ashamed to stand up and say I like technology. So I couldn’t resist bringing this articleto your attention from the Times Higher Education. My long-term friends know

Clockwork Robot

My Robot

I have wanted an Asimo for years – one of my friends kindly gave me this little chap (sorry about the poor quality of the picture). Do read the article, it’s by Dr Kathleen Richardson from UCL and touches on many issues related to Digital Literacy. I’ll talk more about this on my other blog as I want to bring you a few more toys from the Guardian live discussion on 3rd June.

ok back to where I should be. Here are a couple of blogs and an online collaboration tool. One of which is completely strange to me ‘cos its all about Images, Sounds, etc.

The first blog, if I can call it that, is TED a place where you can listen to, “Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world”. There are all sorts of topics so you are sure to find something of interest to you. Just float over the images on the homepage and see what the latest additions are about or do a search. Links on the left take you to stuff on technology, entertainment, design, business, science or global issues.

There’s another blog called Philosophy Bites, managed by the Institute of Philosophy, School of Advanced Studies in London. At first this just looks like a publications list but there are a whole load of podcasts here on philosophy as well as links to philosophy books available through, it takes a bit of scrolling but it’s well worth it.

I just love this next one. The site is called Visitorsstudio and you can, “Chat with other users while you upload and mix your sounds, images and movies in real-time” or you can use the Solostudio and try it out on your own first. For any of you budding musicians, artists or film makers out there it looks great. Create something and we’ll link to it from the blog πŸ™‚

So much to see, so little time :)

One of me in SL

This is "me"

Well now, I’m finding so many interesting things that I want to share with you! For the first of these interesting things I thought I’d share with you PhD2Published, in their own words, “It offers a wealth of hints and tips for early career academics on how to get published as well as providing discussion on the future of academic publishing in the e-age.” So if you’ve just finished or are writing up your PhD thesis this is a page for you. I wish it had been around when I got started!

The next item is another blog but this one is specifically for our visual arts people. “How to use social media Part I” followed closely by, “How to use social media Part II“. Part I is on blogging and Part II is on Twitter but Charlotte Frost’s page (Part II) and the Knowledge Bank (Part I) both contain a lot of useful information for you.

If some of you are tired of using text to communicate with friends why not try this, “Voice Thread” (I love its Popeye cartoon clip) it looks like great fun but I think it could also be rather useful. Have a go and let me know how you get on πŸ™‚

Oh yes and about the Guardian live discussion, I still have more to share with you tomorrow. If you are interested in the discussion itself do look at my other blog where I’m pulling out a different topic/thread from the discussion each day.

Researchers and Digital Literacy

One of me in SL

This is "me"

I mentioned the live Guardian discussion in the last post. I’ve been having a look round this morning at some of the comments as I didn’t have much time the other day. I found that even big places like Imperial College London have problems with embedding Digital Literacy so that makes me feel a little better but doesn’t solve my problems. Found some interesting stuff though as I trolled through some of the links from the discussion.

There is the “Blogs, Twitter, wikis and other web-based tools – Collaborating and building your online presence” from Imperial College London. Obviously you can’t join in the exercises but you could try them out for yourself and the information provided on the blog is very useful for both Researchers and students doing their Masters or even those doing their first degree.

There were also a couple of apps that I found out about – you might like to try them, if you do give me some feedback on how useful they were to you. I’m going to try out Colwiz myself so it would be good to find out how others get on with it. Colwiz is somewhere to manage all your research activities from, your groups to your publications, your diary etc. Another app is Mendeley which is a reference manager and academic social network it also has a Twitter following that helps broaden the support network.

I’ll probably come back to this tomorrow – so keep you’re eyes peeled πŸ™‚


One of me in SL

This is "me"

It seems a bit duff writing about the same bloke on both my blogs but I really enjoy the stuff he writes about. I was very interested in this particular piece of research, “Got Facebook?” when it first came out. I’m sure that those who read it, like me, were really glad to at last have something good said about social networking sites and Facebook in particular. I don’t use Facebook all that much myself – the way I work fits better with things like Twitter and – but it certainly has a lot to offer.

I have found that I do a lot more socialising now than when I didn’t do any social networking. I find out about new reports, discussions, news quicker than I did before and, more importantly, have a chance to add a comment or join in a discussion far more often than I did before. There is a live discussion going on in the Guardian, “Breaching the digital divide: How could HE better use the Internet“. A very interesting discussion with respected panel members. Not only is it live, you can also read it after the event.

I wish more people would take notice of all the interesting things people are talking about in relation to Digital Literacy – such an exciting time in HE.

Itsy bitsy teeny weeny in 3D

One of me in SL

This is "me"

When I was doing my first degree learning would have been a lot easier if I could have seen some things in 3D rather than just as a picture in a book. The stuff they are doing at the University of Arkansas is great, you can actually walk round and through proteins. Go and have a look at the short video they have on the American National Science Foundation site.

I must just add this – the Alice Illusion from Discover Magazine it’s not strictly Digital Literacy but I’m intrigued by the idea and its link to virtual reality. Don’t just read the article the comments are really interesting too.


One of me in SL

This is "me"

Tomorrow I shall be a bit busy so I might not get round to doing a blog post here – but I will try. I’m going to be busy ‘cos it’s time for our next Research Seminar in Second Life and we have someone really quite special coming to speak – Anna Peachey. Rather than write something about Anna you can read her own words about her background and her talk.

“Anna spent 4 years (2006-2010) researching identity and community in virtual worlds as a Teaching Fellow with the COLMSCT CETL at The Open University UK. She continues to teach, study and research with The Open University, and manages their virtual world project through Eygus Ltd. She has published widely on activity in virtual worlds and will be chairing the second international conference on Researching Learning in Immersive Virtual Environments in 2011 ( Anna is Editor-in-Chief of the forthcoming Springer book series on Immersive Environments. Anna and her avatar are slowly becoming one – she is expecting to see wing buds any day now.”

Here’s some stuff from ReLive08.

The title of Anna’s talk is “Can a tiger wear a turban and still be a student?” This title is based on what happened “during a large scale student induction event on Open University islands in January 2010 it was reported that some students were uncomfortable with the Linden-supplied default avatars, as none of them were appropriately dressed for the students’ religious/cultural beliefs and preferences. This raised a host of issues relating to identity and authenticity, alongside questions about institutional responsibility towards students in immersive environments. In consultation with the Equality and Diversity Office, who in turn consulted with colleagues from Religious Studies, we collated a list of core clothing items meeting religious and cultural needs that we might expect a reasonable percentage of our students to require. We then created these items virtually and put them in a freebie vendor at a core OU location in SL, with a device to capture all “sales”, offering a link to an online survey capturing reflections about avatar personalisation. Final analysis of the study is not complete, but in this session I will talk about the process that led us to this point and invite discussion around how different identities are contextually mediated in a virtual world.”

I think this discussion will be very interesting to a whole load of people – whether they are in to Second Life or not, there are loads who are interested in identity.

Hope to see you there

Links for Research Students

Yes, yes, I know it isn’t Friday but working rather keeps me busy πŸ™‚ On of the reasons I didn’t write on Friday was because I was away in Liverpool at a meeting of MELSIG (that’s Media Enhanced Learning Special Interest Group) but more about that in a minute.

I have just returned from a session with some research students. I promised I would put a link to the PowerPoint I used on this blog. Here is the link to the slides on Networking; the two slides you want are at the end. Right now back to MELSIG.

Identity in a foreign place

I’m trying to turn over a new leaf – I’m trying to make Fridays the day I catch up on my blog writing πŸ™‚ Today I thought I would write about an experience I had this week, teaching students new to learning in 3D environments.

Please note that I am not promoting any particular 3D environment, I’m just talking about the one we used. There are plenty of universities using 3D environments now and we need to consider how and when to use them. Part of the process of learning about how and when to use 3D environments is going in and using them.

I was very kindly asked to take a group of students into Second Life for a Media and Cultural Studies module, MECS1008.

photograph of students at the meeting place

Students in SL

The students are exploring the concept of identity, and Second Life (SL) is one of the tools which will help them in their efforts.

We all had a great time although we had a few hiccoughs at the beginning which I will explain about further on.

I’ve been in SL since 2007 and I’ve taken other groups of students in and shown them around so I was happy that I had prepared for the session as well as I could. Of course when performing with animals, children or technology one should never take anything for granted.

A slide giving students information about what they will be doing in the session

What we are doing today

The students were given their learning outcomes for the session.  By the end of the session the students were also required to complete their Profile for the avatar they had created.  These activities provided them with plenty of opportunities and triggers to start questioning identity issues.  The second session I will be doing with the students is about identity and will draw on some of their experiences in SL.

As I said we had some hiccoughs the first of which was the changes that have been made to the registration and login process! I had gone through the information provided by SL in the Community and in their blogs and wikis so I thought everything would be ok – Duh! Although it is clear that everyone is called Resident now it is not made clear that this has to be added to the name the account user chooses when they log in! This gave us all a some difficulty but luckily two of the female students found something on a blog (which was actually incorrect) which pointed them to the solution. Many grateful thanks to those two πŸ™‚

After the session I produced this Word document to help out others in the future. I did this very quickly so it needs a little more work done on it but at least it is a start.

Once the students had sent me the names of their avatars I quickly joined them to the Worcester group and they then made the Island their home. Now, if they want, they can go straight to the Island when they login and can quickly escape situations they don’t like just by clicking on Teleport Home in the World menu.

The other problem we had is more annoying but not insurmountable. The UW IP address has reached its limit for avatars. I’m trying to contact them to have the cap taken off but it takes ages. Students (and others) can join from home but they just can’t do it from UW at the moment. I’ll let everyone know once I get it sorted – at least people can use the Word document as guidance to get started. To join just go to

Right now I’m going to go to my other blog and write a bit about this. The focus is slightly different there, more about research – I publish the machinima (videos of SL) from the Research Seminars we hold each month so people can catch up if they miss one. You can observe my learning process πŸ™‚ as the machinima improve with each month. I’m hoping I’ll get it completely right this month πŸ™‚

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