Communication, openness and freedom

One of me in SL

This is “me”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Publish and be damned?

One of me in SL

This is “me”

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™‚

The complex and the simple

One of me in SL

This is “me”

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™‚

Ahh – what it is to be a scholar :)

One of me in SL

This is “me”

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚ !

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 πŸ™‚

Getting creative with it :)

One of me in SL

This is “me”

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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 :)

One of me in SL

This is “me”

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™‚

Open Access Week

One of me in SL

This is “me”

Over the last few days I’ve been talking to people about Open Access. I can’t lie and say I was thinking about it ‘cos I’m really clever, it’s mainly because this week is Open Access Week and all the publicity rather focused my mind on it. If you’re not sure what Open Access is Wikipedia provides a satisfactory introduction to it, for more interesting information look at the Open Access site (it’s in German but you can select the English version) and for a news article about Open Access and medical research here is a very readable Guardian article. Ive mention PLoS (the Public Library of Science) before on the blog and Biomed Central and even though you might not have realised at the time, they are another part of the Open Access movement. This is not just some flash in the pan, the recent Government supported report, the Finch Report, is being implemented by the Government and professional bodies. Organisations like JISC (the Joint Information Systems Committee) are providing lots of support to move OA forward. This is “a good thing” for students and researchers everywhere, at last (though probably not immediately) you will have direct access to an increasing number of articles on original research with little or no cost to yourselves (hurrah!). I love to see it when a plan comes together πŸ™‚

I was going to write loads more today but I’ve run out of time – again! Just one little funny to finish with. Try this “social” drawing with your friends – let me know what you produce πŸ™‚

Augmenting reality

One of me in SL

This is "me"

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.

It’s all chchchchanges :)

One of me in SL

This is "me"

On my travels the other day I found the Historypin. If you are either into history or photography go and have a look, it’s a sort of Pinterest mixed with Retronaut and Google maps – really good fun.

As usual I’ve been keeping an eye open for what other folks are doing – if it might be of any interest to us here at the Uni, I grab it. I think this article from the Journal of Medical Internet Research might interest some of you – an article about the relationship of citations of a research paper can be predicted by Tweets about the paper – “Highly tweeted articles were 11 times more likely to be highly cited“. So quick, go and get your friends to Tweet about that article you just had published πŸ™‚

On the same (slightly connected) subject of medicine, there is an awful lot of augmented and virtual reality used in healthcare. I like this new programme, called ProtoSphere, by the ProtonMedia company from Pennsylvania. As the video at the bottom of the page shows, it’s rather like a very limited, medics only version of a Virtual World πŸ™‚

In a similar way there is also ARCH-Virtual: architecture and design in virtual worlds – not architecture and design for virtual worlds but using a virtual world for corporeal world work. Take a look at the three examples given on this page and take a look at their homepage. Fantastic for all sorts of design work whether it’s buildings, science or furniture.

It all goes to show just how quickly the way we work, learn and live is changing so quickly! πŸ™‚

Where we are

One of me in SL

This is "me"

I’ve been working with students and talking to others in Second life today. Second Life is a communication device, it lets us see representations (avatars) of one another, it enables us to talk in text or voice (to groups or individuals), and it gives people the opportunity to build things together, so people can create together anything from art to rapid prototyping. All of this at the click of a button and from anywhere in the world at any time. This tool thus lends itself to teaching (amongst other things), as an acquaintance from Arkansas State University demonstrated for me with the teacher training course they run completely in SL. I don’t intend to dwell on Second Life and how some are doing more with it than others but all this rather got me thinking about communication and communication methods these days.

Like most other people these days I use a whole range of devices from the physical to the virtual to communicate for work, rest and play. We are all Tweeting, Texting and Scoopiting to our heart’s content, all day. We are communicating at a level of incidence never seen before and we are communicating about all sorts of things. Anything we can think about:

The above list does not include, of course, all of that everyday communication we carry on all the time with our bank or the local government (for example about housing) or the national government (for example pension claims) or the NHS (for example making appointments at the hospital).

So if we can’t communicate properly in the modern world, using modern devices of communication we will not only, not know what is happening, more importantly we will not be able to let people know what is happening with/to us.

To be or not to be …

One of me in SL

This is "me"

I am often torn about how serious, or not, I should be on this blog. I mostly try to keep things fairly light, interesting and even, dare I say it, fun. However, there are times when I feel there is little out there in the metaverse but serious stuff (times when I often choose not to blog). I tend to err on the side of, “if you can’t say anything real nice, it’s better not to talk at all …”. Today though I think I will say a few serious things just to try to press home what this “Digital Literacy” stuff is all about.

I’d just finished the Research Seminar for February in Second Life at lunchtime and I thought I’d have a look at what was going on in the rest of the world (I mean the corporeal one not the virtual). I opened Twitter and was immediately bombarded by loads of Tweets on copyright issues (these are always very busy streams within Twitter). One Tweet on Digital Literacy though caught my eye from Catherine Cronin from the National University of Ireland. Catherine was Tweeting about a post on the ICTology blog about finding out what Digital Literacy means by analyzing one Tweet. Do read the blog – Ismael PeΓ±a-LΓ³pez takes apart one Tweet from Brian Lamb at the University of British Columbia to show just what skills are needed to be a member of the digital world we all, increasingly live in these days.

Moving on from that rather pleasant idea I then came across two items. The first was about Pinterest and the copyright infringement problems it is currently wrestling with. This problem is analyzed by Martin Sloane on the Brodies Law Firm blog (they’re in Scotland), TechBlog. Trying to follow the ins and outs of this problem is also a Digital Literacy issue, any of us could find ourselves caught up in this weird world of digital copyright law – apps like Pinterest are very popular and can be very effective for promoting organisations. What the outcome will be of this tussle is going to be interesting – for all of us. The second was another copyright issue, this time about photography. “Do you need permission to take a photo with a chair in it“. The world is a smaller place these days and we have to be conscious of how laws in other countries affect us. The copyright law and the design rights law in France are clashing over this problem of a photograph of a “designer” chair (designed by someone who worked with Le Corbusier). This is not an unknown issue of copyright law – photographing “famous things” for profit requires the permission of the designer of the “famous thing”. What everyone is complaining about is that the effect of this is to restrict/reduce creativity, the very thing that copyright is supposed to protect and encourage. Read the article you can tell why the photographers are upset.

What does all this mean for the average man in the street? It means that these days he has to be Digitally Literate just as in the past he had to be able to read and write.

Sleep well everyone πŸ™‚

Getting the show on the road

One of me in SL

This is "me"

I really feel as if I’m settling in properly now πŸ™‚ I’ve published the web pages for Digital Literacy on the ILS site today and, apart from some minor hiccoughs they seem to be running ok. The pages are not completely up to date yet as I still have a few things to add but at least it’s a start.

Thinking about publishing there is more on the open publishing front. This short article from Research Professional brings us up to date with what is happening on the tussle between open publishing and commercial journal publishers. You might have thought this was just an issue in the USA but as you can see from the article even universities such as Imperial and Cambridge are joining in the fight. What do you think – would you put your career on the line in a fight like this?

You might wonder if the above item has anything to do with Digital Literacy. In fact the social and cultural effects of digital technologies on our lives is exactly what Digital Literacy is about. How prepared to you feel for the world of the future?

Developing Digital Literacies

One of me in SL

This is "me"

I was going to write about something completely different but then I saw the Tweet in the #jiscdiglit Twitter stream from CosmoCat. I’m not sure if many/any of you are aware that JISC is currently running a Programme called Developing Digital Literacies (unfortunately we were a little too young to join in). The Programme comes under JISC Cetis and on the Programme homepage it says,

“We’re working with colleges and universities to embed core digital skills into the curriculum. By digital literacy we mean those capabilities which fit an individual for living, learning and working in a digital society: for example, the skills to use digital tools to undertake academic research, writing and critical thinking; as part of personal development planning; and as a way of showcasing achievements.”

Which is, more or less, what we are trying to do here at Worcester. (I must say I really dislike the JISC homepages their new sites are much nicer. Have a look at the range of projects in the programme) What CosmoCat drew my attention to was Sheila’s work blog, which provides an excellent round-up of how the programme is progressing so far and what is happening with each of the projects. You can get a good idea of what it is like to work on one of these projects by looking at the blogs from them.

Do go and look at all the information in the links above as it will give you a better idea of what this blog and the Digital Literacy Services in general are all about:)

Umm ebooks

One of me in SL

This is "me"

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 Scoop.it 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

One of me in SL

This is "me"

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?

%d bloggers like this: