And the next big thing is …

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The rate of change we are seeing these days is similar to that seen in the industrial revolution. The changes are not just about how we use banking services or how we communicate with friends and employers. The changes affect fundamental aspects of our lives such as how we learn or how we are treated when we are ill. To be able to take advantage of these changes we have to be aware of what they are, so I thought I’d tell you about a few things I’ve been reading about.

I enjoyed reading this article that appeared in the Telegraph about how and why digital literacy is being (or is not being) embedded in UK compulsory schooling. Hearing about what some people, like Don Wettrick in the USA, (No 9 in the list) and the Play-i robots are doing in classes is really exciting. I do wonder just how many children get these sorts of opportunities, will it just be the lucky few?

Healthcare doesn’t miss out on all these new inventions either. Sandra Winkler, an occupational health researcher in Nova Southeastern University in Florida, has received a $1 million dollar grant to investigate the use of Second Lifeยฎ to support amputees in leading more functionally effective lives. In another instance of technology enhanced healthcare is an operation performed using Google Glass. Two surgeons, in hospitals more than two hours apart from each other, performed a shoulder replacement. This enables inexperienced surgeons to have the support of experts as if they were standing right next to them.

In academia we see yet more potential changes. This article is asking if Google Help with replace librarians?

For a few tips before I finish you might find these helpful. You can help keep yourself safe online by controlling who has access to where you are – this article tells you how to do that. Next, a list of apps you might find useful. Finally, a discussion from LSE on copyright, open access and moral rights.

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Now what?

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We have looked briefly at what digital literacy might mean for you. Just to finish off these last four weeks here are two videos from employers. You will need to login to Uniview with your University username and password to view them – the first is from the Worcester Evening News the second is from SmartMonkeys. Now we are back to me providing interesting and useful links for you. I hope you enjoy what I have for you today ๐Ÿ™‚

In this article Alex Walsh is writing about keeping her own Professional Portfolio and how helpful it was in helping her to get a job. Alex is a teacher so this will be particularly interesting for those in Education but I think we can all learn from her. In a similar vein, Colleen Lee writes about how she maintains her Personal Learning Network (PLN), keeping things organised is about more than just the tidiness aspect. Both a Professional Portfolio and a PLN are tools that can help you think critically.

If you are not quite sure what thinking critically is all about this five-minute video on YouTube should help you make sense of it. If you would like a quick way into online resources to boost your critical thinking, take a look at these lists provided by the LSE.

Now for some interesting stuff to finish off with. You might like to look at these apps that can create PDF from your mobile phone. If you are into Greek Odyssey you might like this article on various translations – makes for good listening. If you are into natural sciences and the human genome this article from National Geographic is very interesting. Finally, but by no means least, here is something for all of you who are struggling with your PhD studies.

For new and old alike

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I realised that I had not provided anything for some of our newer students on the last few posts. So today here is something for the newbies ๐Ÿ™‚

I was wandering around the web as I often do and came across these really useful short animations from Jisc Netskills web2practice. If you are not quite sure what Twitter, RSS, etc are or why you should use them these videos explain it all for you.

Many of you already know how to find Creative Commons resources on the web. For you this Creative Commons New Zealand page is just one more useful link for you, for the newbies this is something you should add to your RSS feed ๐Ÿ™‚ Here are 7 Ways to Find Creative Commons Images.

I’m sure some of you are already using WordPress for writing your free blog. These two videos I found on YouTube explain how to set up a web site using WordPress and how to make it a commercial site. Pretty obviously this is not free but if you are thinking of setting up your own business online this is a cheap (about ยฃ25 per year), but good way, of doing it.

Mozilla, the web browser people, are developing a web literacy standard, i.e. the basics of what you should know and be able to do on and with the web. The competencies come under the headings of Exploring, Building and Connecting. If you are not sure of what this involves, take a look at this page and see if you are able to do all this stuff.

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 Tromsรธ 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 ยฃ15 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

Unfortunately Twitter have decided that they are going to kill off TweetDeck. Outrage! I hear you cry – yes indeed. TweetDeck is far better than Twitter’s own interface and, unlike many programmes that offer the same facilities, it is free. However, come the end of May TweetDeck, and all of its apps, will be gone. The best I can suggest in its place is Hootsuite (I used this before I used TweetDeck), I expect it will be the one I will use. This post by Kevin Allen gives you lots of advice about the alternatives available to you. Don’t let your networks disappear – take a look and make up your own minds before May when TweetDeck will start to be shut down.

If you are interested in all sorts of, free, online courses then take a look at this post about 700 of them ๐Ÿ™‚ There are some really good lectures, by well-known speakers listed here. Some are old recordings but still very useful. You are bound to find something helpful.

Open Learning Week starts on Sunday March 10th through to March 17th. All you educationalists out there are sure to be interested in one of the webinars. As this is an international thing you might want to check that the webinar is in a language you speak ๐Ÿ™‚

Not only is it spring but all sorts of new things are on the horizon. Just look at Leap Motion on the video in this article from Huffington Post. I can’t wait to try one of these ๐Ÿ™‚

What can’t you do online?

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I’ve found quite a hotchpotch of things for you all today. In fact I didn’t find the first item, that came via Paul Williams.

This Prezi is from Royal Holloway, University of London. A great resource for research students and undergrads alike. I’m sure you will like it and the funny video near the end ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m guess by now that everyone knows what Creative Commons Licenses are. The CC organisation gets involved in all sorts of things like the Open Data Hackathon earlier in February and the EasyBib Webinar on Thursday 21st. On the site the time says 4pm ET, for us that means 21:00 hrs (9pm). Even if you don’t join in do go and listen to everyone talking about the Open movement.

And now for something completely different ๐Ÿ™‚ If any of you are interested in Web Analytics, for example finding out more about your own footprint in Twitter or you want to do some research about networking/social media, you might like to have a look at some of these programmes. Some of them are aimed at commercial sites but that is no reason why they cannot prove useful to people in HE. Some are free – check them out:

    • TwitSprout will collect information and create diagrams from Twitter and Facebook
    • Netlytic will find and automatically analysis and discovery social networks from electronic communication such as emails, forums, blogs and chats.
    • followerwonk will find out all about your own Twitter account
  • There are lots more but I think the above will give you some insight into the sort of thing that can be done ๐Ÿ™‚

    Finally something which I think is charming. It shows just how comfortable we are all becoming with technology, the children in this post are not just Digitally Literate they are Digitally Fluent ๐Ÿ™‚

    a little light reading

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    I thought it was going to be a really nice day today. The sun was shining, there was no rain and the ground was starting to dry up but it is starting to look a bit grim now and I expect it will start to rain again at any minute. You had all better scuttle in doors, read the blog and follow the links ๐Ÿ™‚

    With all the bad weather we have been having I just could not resist bringing you this picture of London Bridge in 1814 from the British Library. Rather glad our weather is not this bad!

    I just love the debate going on in this article. If you like politics or are into Open Access then read this article on openness in politics by Nathaniel Tkacz and all the really good comments that follow it. You will need at least two coffees and a couple of pastries as it’s a bit long but it is really difficult to put down. I love the comment by Tim O’Reilly ๐Ÿ™‚

    Wanted: web-entrepreneurs
    . I really like this Feature article in the News Letter from the Department of the Director General of the European Commission. Have a read, get involved and get into the European Futures scene!

    If you have been doing any searching in Summon you will probably have come across Sherpa but I thought I would give you the link to their homepage. The work, projects and services of Sherpa are fantastic. Have a look at their site and see if there is anything useful for you there.

    I have loads more to share with you but I think I will save that for another day.

    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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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.

    Ahh – what it is to be a scholar :)

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

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

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

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

    Getting creative with it :)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Lots to read and cogitate on :)

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    Urrrgh, what another horrible day! May be next week will be better – let’s hope so ๐Ÿ™‚

    I have a few things for you to think about today. The first article is about a new function available on some ebooks. At present this questionable function is only available on some school text books but who knows where it might lead. Do students want their lecturers to be able to see how long they have read a chapter or the notes they have kept? Do lecturers want to have yet one more thing they have to wade through? Let me know what you think – just add a comment.

    Here are another 25 Things to Do for Researchers but as before, they are useful skills for all students and lecturers to learn. This time they are from University of Huddersfield – just follow through the exercises and instructions week by week. There’s nothing too arduous and it can be fun ๐Ÿ™‚

    This is an article for all of you who have anything to do with health sciences. “Towards Health Sciences 2.0” brings up some really interesting questions about science publications and research. It also has lots of links to even more articles related to the subject. So grab a cuppa and get reading you will know an awful lot more about open access journals by the time you finish.

    This last article is called “6 Things to Teach Students About Social Media” but it’s really useful for everyone. There are lots of tips and links to technologies that will help you have a happier and safer time when you are socialising on the web. Have fun everyone and I’ll catch you again next week ๐Ÿ™‚

    A little behind is better than more :)

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    Arrrgh – look at the time! I’m all behind today (don’t you dare say anything about the size of my behind)!

    I have quite a lot I could give you today but I only have a little time so let me see what I think is best.

    For those researchers out there who read the blog, if you haven’t heard about ResearchGate before, you should have done ๐Ÿ™‚ Pop off to the site and go and collaborate with all the other lovely researchers. You might also like to look at this article from Nature about social media for researchers (and PhD students). Whilst I have your attention you ought to look at DEVONthink too. Devon think can also be very useful to all you other students so go and get stuck in to something that will really help you cleverly manage all your documents.

    For some of you who are more interested in technology and writing your own web site go and download Google Goggles – it’s great fun.

    What a start to the week – enjoy yourselves ๐Ÿ™‚

    So much to do …

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    A competition, an online conference and even more interesting stuff today ๐Ÿ™‚ ok let’s look at the competition first.

    On Monday I was in Birmingham at Daden Ltd, they create all sorts of virtual, immersive reality sort of stuff. One of the programmes they have created is an “immersive data visualisation application” called Datascape. Some of the data they showed me was really rather cute – it was so much easier to understand than seen as a flat or simple, non-immersive 3D diagram. Any way, they have a competition for people to produce the, “best immersive 3D visualisation” of their own data. You can download the Community Edition of Datascape for free so of you go all you researchers, mathematicians and psychologists get going with your data!

    For those of you interested in dyslexia I found a really good site about it called dislexiawayofthinking. There is loads of information and support on this site – there are videos, an ebook, webinars, tests, information about helpful apps, you can follow them on Twitter and join the group. Have a look it’s a really, really useful site.

    There’s a fantastic conference on 8th to 9th of November. It’s at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark but don’t worry you can follow it and join in, all online! The conference is about New Media and the Public Sphere – how are all these new communication technologies affecting our lives, is it changing our basic understanding and conception of “the public”, is there a still a definite divide between the public and the private? Go and add your four penny-worth to the conference – the Twitter hashtag is #NMPS2012. Go on – have a bit of fun ๐Ÿ™‚

    Try Ginger it is fantastic for proof reading! It is soooo very difficult to check text when you are tired and you have been reading each version over and over again. Even if you use the Microsoft spell checker you can’t be sure if it’s right. Coming to the rescue is Ginger – tra daa! A great tool for doing your proof reading – but do try to learn from it as it corrects your dreadful grammar ๐Ÿ™‚

    Here is a little bit of fun to end with. I haven’t tried it yet but it looks smashing. Xtranormal is a programme that will create a video from your words. Have a go and see if you can make something really funny ๐Ÿ™‚

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