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.

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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.

Things to do from your sick-bed :)

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Here I am, risen from my sick-bed – well not quite, I’m feeling a lot better now. It’s not only computers that can’t function normally when invaded by a virus, organic things are affected just the same unfortunately πŸ™‚ Despite an impaired functionality I will try to create some satisfactory input for you.

I have recently been introduced to the Podcast Gallery. I have found this an excellent resource; especially when you don’t have the energy to raise even an e-book in front of your face πŸ™‚ I did a search for BBC and came up with a very large collection of podcasts which I recommend whole heartedly.

Just for some fun I thought I’d include a link to the xkcd site. There are some great cartoons on xkcd though you might find some of the humour a bit strange if you are not into science and maths.

If you are a blogger and you want to learn more about how to personalise your WordPress blog you will find the Daily Post at WordPress.com very helpful. The one I have linked to is the Introduction from January but you might know enough about branding to start off at Let’s get visual 101.

I quite often find that I would like to be able to just copy and paste between my different machines, e.g. from my phone to my Mac. I found something today that can do just that clippick. You can copy and paste from any device, any platform or any app, try it out, I think you will be surprised just how often you will use it.

I just love TypeDrawing – I don’t think it is academically of much use to you but it looks like fun and you never know it might be useful for a presentation. You can download version 3 from the App store for either your iPhone or your iPad.

I never have really liked the term e-safety, it is far too simplistic, I much prefer the term used by Jisc, online responsibilities. If you want to check up on what your responsibilities might be in relation to e-safety go and have a look at the Jisc Infokit, What is e-safety and why should we do it.

Just as a final note, if you are looking for Royalty Free music or sound effects try the Partners in Rhyme site.

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™‚

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.

    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™‚

    Just a couple of boards – no nails :)

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    Wow! Just look at the time – didn’t realise it was getting so late. ok I just have two things for you today which I’m sure some of you are going to find interesting.

    ShowMe is a smashing Apple App that is like having an interactive whiteboard on your iPad screen which you can share with all your friends. In this Vimeo video you see it being used with school children but there is no reason why it should not be used in Higher Education. ShowMe is a free App and you and a group of friends or colleagues can set it up yourselves, it does not have to be initiated by the University or the Department.

    If you do not have an iPad do not despair there is another free app you can use πŸ™‚ RealtimeBoard is another interactive whiteboard app but this one works on the web so you can use your usual laptop or desktop computer. RealtimeBoard seems to be aimed more at business people but again there is no reason why HE should not use it too. Go and have a look at the video there are lots of things you can use it for and it is very easy to invite others to join in with you.

    Have fun – this stuff doesn’t have to be used for serious things πŸ™‚

    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 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 :)

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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 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 :)

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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™‚

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