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™‚

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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 πŸ™‚

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.

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.

Mostly fun :)

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All the examinations, furious writing, presentations and grading are drawing to a close. Soon everyone’s thoughts will be turning to how to get one last thing into the suitcase for the holidays. Before then though I have a few more goodies for you πŸ™‚

To begin with here is a chance to win a Β£5K grant from Jisc. Jisc are looking for students who have good ideas about how to use technology to improve student life – so get in touch with them!

If you are still trying to get yourself, your ideas, resources, notes organised then look at this article about Evernote. Yes I know I’ve mentioned it before and that you have probably tried it before but, as the article says, may be you just haven’t been doing it right πŸ™‚

Do you want to produce your own podcasts? Why not try PodOmatic – it’s free and you can add your podcasts to a community of like-minded people. May be you just want to see what other people have done? Have a look, there are lots of topic headings, you are bound to find something interesting.

LearnDash have some really useful tips and tools for teachers but I’m sure loads of students will find them useful too. In this particular article there is a list of 19 fun tools. My favourites are Trello which can help you organise a project or group activity and Screenleap which enables you to share your screen with a friend – both of which are free!

For those of you who have an iPad. Do watch this video on how to visually record and share your notes. There are four apps evaluated, all of which are really useful but have different price tags. This method of note taking is great, even if you don’t have an iPad, and it is well described by Rachel Smith.

Finally here are two funnies for you. The first is a truly amazing wedding photo the other is a video warning about the perils of time-travel πŸ™‚

From cringing to ridiculous :)

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Here I am back again after my break, keen to bring you all sorts of exciting things – well interesting things at least πŸ™‚

You might laugh or cringe over these videos from the EU about a family called the Clikkers. These videos are part of the EU programme to inform people about digital literacies, they are quite good really but probably aimed at a slightly younger age group than the one here at the University.

We all need to learn more about our digital footprints.This slide show and it’s accompanying Word document provide some useful advice and handy urls to help us find out more about these footprints. We all have them and, as this other video points out, we have them from before we are born. This next video demonstrates how it can all go horribly wrong!

Usually when things go horribly wrong it’s because people have not had a chance to develop good digital literacy skills; this article from the BBC is a good case in point. Everyone in our society needs to develop these new skills, if you do not have them you lose out. The digital revolution has left some people stranded with old skills, those of us who do have digital literacy skills need to help those who don’t. Right, that’s enough preaching now for something completely different πŸ™‚

People often wonder not just what avatars are and why we use them. This e-book, “The use of avatars” has loads of information about avatars and how they are used. Do you have any avatars? What do you use them for?

Have a look at the Oxford University, Internet Institute. There are loads of podcasts and videos here about modern technologies related to the Internet. Subjects include things like, “Facebook: The Strength of Weak Ties”, “The Changing Business of Software” and “The Life Story of a Pioneer: From Hi-tech to Philanthropy” and lots, lots more.

Now some things for a little bit of fun πŸ™‚ First Padlet, you might remember this as Wallwisher. It is a great way of sharing and planning with friends online. Go and have a look and try it out. Next is something called Blubox, if you take loads of pictures and want to scrunch them up so they fit in a smaller space Blubox is for you. Blubox is a photo compressor which claims to compress your photos by 90% whilst maintaining the resolution. Have a go and let me know if it works as well as it claims – I have loads of photos I need to compress! Finally, I bring you bomomo – I don’t think it does anything useful, it just makes pretty pictures but it is good fun πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚ 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 Β£25 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.

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™‚

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™‚

    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™‚

    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.

    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 πŸ™‚

    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 πŸ™‚

    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 πŸ™‚

    Just a bit of fun :)

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    Enough seriousness, is that a word or have I just made it up? Here are a few links to things both funny and helpful.

    I think I’ve mentioned this before but nevermind, Hastac is a way of getting together with other people to think about things. Hastac can be just fun but it can also be very useful fun. Hastac is rather like an undergrad version of Unexus, these people are getting not just thinkers together but also all the people who can make things actually work – great stuff!

    Some of you might be interested in getting your own stuff out there so you might be could want to learn a bit about coding. Codeacademy provides some really helpful information in a pretty simple way so that you can use it on your own web pages.

    Things like szoter can be very useful when you are studying. You’ll see a picture on a web site and it looks really useful as a way of reminding you about the information on the site. Just grab an image of the site and then annotate it, all with szoter. Another study aid is ProfessorWord – it can be awfully annoying and confusing when you don’t know the meaning to a word, just use Professor Word and you can obtain an immediate definition. Not bad eh?

    ok – that’s yer lot for now πŸ™‚ I’ll find some more stuff soon.

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