Communication, openness and freedom

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

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

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

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

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

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


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™‚

Media and pretty robots :)

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I am meeting with some research students later on today and that rather has me thinking about research type things. So first I’m going to write about some social media and research, some of it might be more interesting to researchers but there’s lots here for everyone else too πŸ™‚

I started thinking about social media first of all and that brought me to this site where there is an infographic about how people in HE use social media as part of learning. Have a look, do you use social media like this or do you do something more? Here are two pieces from the BishopBlog, the first is how not to get a research proposal accepted and the second is on how to bury your research. Really good stuff and well written too. The final article is a discussion on the LSE blog about why blogging is important for academics. Sit down with a cup of coffee for this one it’s a bit long but very worth reading.

No for the fun stuff. The first thing I looked at was an article on Google Glasses. There is a great video at the beginning of this article which you must watch. My first reaction was, “why is it just the women doing the shopping”? Just look at the comments following the article – very good πŸ™‚ As most of you who are regular readers of this blog will know I love robots Asimo, dear pretty little Nao and now this very life-like one from Kokoro – fantastic! Are any of you robot makers? If you are send me a picture of your robot and I’ll put it on the site πŸ™‚

I’ve decided that I’m going to try out Issuu, I’ll let you know how I get on 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.

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™‚

    Who, What, umm identity?

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    Today I have brought together seven items that are all, in one way or another, connected to identity. Do have a go at some of them they really are quite good fun πŸ™‚

    First up is Spezify, a visual search engine that will search for any picture with your name on it. Do you know what pictures there are of you online? Go and search for yourself and find out just how visual you are!

    Next comes Pipl another search engine, this one searches for anything about you online, or for anyone else you want to search for.

    By now you should have started to realise how this all connects to questions of identity. So first I looked at how our persona appears online. Now I’m looking at Second Life which provides the opportunity to create a different persona. For those of you who don’t know Second Life is a 3D communication device/social media tool where you can have meetings, or get together with friends to create a special online environment. For those of you new to Second Life (SL) here is the most recent video on how to shop for things in SL. One of the things that people have often complained about with SL is that you can’t access it on a mobile device – well you can now! Lumiya can be run on any Android device, tablet or mobile phone. You can’t do any building in SL with Lumiya but you can do everything else.

    Just what else will researchers come up with? Well one of the things they came up with was touch sensitive devices (haptics or haptic technology). Moving on from there they are now working on how to add touch sensitive technology to telemedicine. So you will not just see and talk to your doctor, nurse or specialist online but you will also be able to feel them! eeek! Read about what the researchers at University of Texas are getting up to.

    I could not resist bringing you this video spoof of how your grandparents use the Internet. At first the video seems dreadful but real but as soon as the presenter says his name is Bob you know it’s a spoof. A really great laugh but it does get you thinking πŸ™‚ It’s on the Digital Tattoo site from the University of British Columbia, excellent site, you might like to take a look round that too.

    Last an old but interesting article from Heloukee on the Paradox of Openness. Yet another view of identity or identities online that should give you some food for thought.

    Games, Apps and Art

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    What a change in the weather! Besides releasing QuileR and SAM I’ve been really busy talking with people about how they are using digital technologies. I’ve been talking to Dr Geoff Kohe and Helen Corke in Sports and Exercise Science, Kay Stonham the Teaching Fellow in Scriptwriting in the Institute of Humanities and Creative Arts and Jenny Edwins Senior Lecturer and Admissions Tutor in Midwifery. They are all such busy people and having wonderful ideas about how to use social media with colleagues and students.

    With my mind honed in on digital media I could not help but notice the site Digital MediaArts Numeriques. There are loads of interesting links on this site, it seems to overflow with excitement. A few news items are written in French, so it’s handy if you have that as a second language. If you are into art go and have a look.

    Just have to tell you about this new game! The academic paper about it is here in PLoS one if you would like to read it. Frederick Chen, an economist at Wake Forest University in North Carolina and his colleagues are using the game to find out about people’s choices when faced with an epidemic/ potential epidemic. Another great way to use virtual worlds for research purposes πŸ™‚

    If you are more technically minded you might be interested in writing an App for a mobile device. This list of tutorials could prove very useful to you. You have to search around a bit on some of the sites to find the actual tutorial but all the same it should prove fun to play with.

    ok folks, enjoy trying out these links, I’m off for a cuppa πŸ™‚

    Modern technologies and creativity

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    How did it come to be Monday again? I didn’t notice the weekend go – where did it go? πŸ™‚ To ensure we don’t all fall asleep from Mondayitis I’ll give you a few things to play with and think about – I’m sure you’re going to enjoy that, ummm well …

    Have a look at these cartoons – they are really cute. Larry Cuban creates these cartoon collections on a regular basis and, apart from his blog being interesting, some of these cartoons about children using modern technologies just ring so true – the comments are often good too.

    Some research suggests that using modern technologies can make people more creative but why might we want people to be more creative? I don’t usually recommend viewing a PowerPoint presentation but this one really helps with understanding why people need to learn how to be more creative. The findings are from research done in America so the figures might be slightly different if it was repeated here in the UK. Why don’t you be creative and comment on the findings πŸ™‚

    I was really surprised to find another good PowerPoint explaining what web 2.0 is. If you have ever wondered what the phrase web 2.0 actually means you can find out here. How do you use modern technologies? Are you constantly texting, tweeting, posting to Facebook or your blog, putting your pictures on Pinterest? Is it your way of being creative? Do you link all your social media together? Is it the only way you can achieve a balance between your social and your work life or does it all just get in the way? Would you like to stop doing it all but can’t? Tell me – go on you know you want to really πŸ™‚

    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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚

    So much to do …

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    A competition, an online conference and even more interesting stuff today πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚

    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 πŸ™‚

    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 πŸ™‚

    Open Access Week

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    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™‚

    such goings on!

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    Oh boy, I just have to bring you this one! From the University of Bristol here is the virtual reality cow πŸ™‚ It sounds, and looks, funny but it has a serious side to it – think of all those lovely vets it’s going to help train πŸ™‚

    I have had the most super meeting this afternoon with “a very nice lady” by the name of Laura Jones. Laura is one of the “Institute of Humanities First Year Tutors”, a group who are doing marvellous things with the first year students. These Tutors are previous students of the University and, with the help of the Learning and Teaching Fund, are bridging the gap between college/school and University by using social media and modern technologies. If you want to try setting up something like this in your discipline why not contact Laura to talk about it.

    Why not try joining in the Oxford University “23 Things for Research“. You can join even if you do not work or study at Oxford but you will need to contact the ALT Librarians and me (Tim Johnson) for support instead of the people at Oxford.

    That’s all for now – see you all tomorrow πŸ™‚

    Stimulate your brain :)

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    Mustn’t forget to put in a title today πŸ™‚ I just get so excited by some of the things I find for you that I completely forget simple things like titles!

    Today I have found something that I think is a really good idea. Don’t know about you but I often get a sort of writers (or even thinkers) block, especially first thing in the morning, so it’s great to find something that can deal with that. There is a site called, where you can go and write 750 words on anything. It’s all completely private, it’s not like a blog or Twitter. It just helps you to get all the morning, muddled, mess out of your brain so you can get going properly – you might even find the answer to some of the questions you have. Great!

    I also have a couple of research things for you. You don’t have to be doing your PhD to look at these they are very useful even if you are just beginning. I’ve mention Mendeley and Zotero before and if you get along ok with those that’s fine but different people have different needs and I thought you might like to try Quiqqa. All of these programmes do similar things in slightly different ways – they manage your papers, your references, help you connect with other people interested in the same/similar subjects – all in all very helpful stuff.

    Finally I must give my friend’s new book a plug. If you’re not sure about how or when to use social media in your research/academic work then have a look at this book written by Shailey Minocha and Marian Petre and published by Vitae Innovate, the research organisation. The title is a bit posh, “Handbook of social media for researchers and supervisors Digital technologies for research dialogues” but it has lots of good advice in it – go on have a look πŸ™‚

    Happiness is a warm computer

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    I hope you are all prepared for tomorrow – it is supposed to be very, very wet! Get your sou’wester and galoshes out folks πŸ™‚

    Just to make you feel really cheerful I bring you a post from The Thesis Whisperer. It’s all about getting in the doldrums when you are working on your thesis but I think the principles can be applied to dissertations too – it’s called The Valley of Shit. Not a very inspiring title but it might just help you get that paper finished rather than throwing up your hands in despair and walking out of the University πŸ™‚

    As I am sure you all know, I am very interested in the use of technology in education, particularly augmented reality and virtual reality. For those of you interested in this sort of thing I thought I’d include a link to a blog I found recently called, Mariis’ explorations of 3D remediation. The post that caught my eye was a discussion on whether Virtual Worlds were games or not – I support the idea that they are communication devices and therefore not games. If you are interested in the academic side of Virtual Worlds and such like you will find this blog and the links from it rather interesting. I found Women Academics in Virtual Environments, a useful ning for getting us girls together πŸ™‚

    Now just a few things to look at for when the sun has come out again and you can go out and play πŸ™‚ How about trying out augmented reality with Junaio? Try out some of the augmented reality already created for you or download the metaio Creator tool and create some of your own. If that doesn’t float your boat how about turning your iPad or iPhone into a remote control and track pad using Mobile Mouse, if you are not already a couch potato this might make you into one – so beware πŸ™‚ If you really can’t be bothered with all that and just want to relax with a good book you might prefer this instead. Try out Free Books, download the app and search away to your heart’s content.

    Hope you all have a lovely wet Thursday πŸ™‚

    The way ahead

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    Urrrgh – I spoke too soon! What awful weather again! On the environment agency site there is aFlood Warning. That means Flooding is expected. Immediate action required. On the Meteorological Office site it says this April is the wettest in 100 years. Which is probably just as well because the British Waterways site says that, “March was an exceptionally mild month and the driest for the UK since 1953”. The plants in my garden have no idea what it is they are supposed to be doing!

    It feels a bit like that on the Digital Literacy front at times too. At one moment there seems to be lots happening and we are forging ahead and then the next moment everything seems to have ground to a halt. Well there is plenty going on but you have to look for it. You can keep up to date with JISC they are putting out broadcasts, webinars which can be found on their site and, of course there is their media web site, JISC Advance, and their main web site which is being improved all the time πŸ™‚

    Thought you might be interested in this app that I found from the Chegg people. It is a series of flash cards for quick revision that will also give you feedback on how well you have done – quite handy I thought especially as it is free πŸ™‚

    I like this site, Vitae, it is really for researchers but I think undergraduates could learn something too from the booklets you can download here.

    I wonder what tomorrow’s weather will bring ? πŸ™‚

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