Brain fodder

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Here are just a few items to keep you from falling asleep over your breakfast πŸ™‚

This article was written for teachers but you should take a look at the ideas it has for using Twitter in the classroom (lecture hall, etc). Do you agree with the suggested ideas, is this how you would like to see Twitter used, are there other ways you would like Twitter to be used as part of your academic studies? Post a comment and let me know, or take your ideas to your lecturers.

If you use Evernote you might like to try using LiveMinutes with it instead of using Google Docs to collaboratively produce documents.

Do take a look at Doodlecast Pro, this is a great App for adding interest and improving explanations in your presentations. There is a smashing little video on how to use Doodlecast in this article from Educational Technology and Mobile Learning.

I’ve just given you more to look at and think about and we just get more and more turn up on our desktops everyday. This is a really interesting article about how all this clutter affects our thinking and how to manage this clutter that is created in our busy days.

Some of you might be fascinated by this article about the symbols we use everyday, it might also help you to remember what they stand for.

This one is for those of you who are really interested in technology. Here is a little tiny, very cheap, easy to assemble computer kit. I can’t wait for mine to arrive 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.

Networking and Collaboration

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You always hear people going on about networking but what does that really mean and why is it considered so important?

We never only learn on our own, there are usually other people involved. They might form part of a class, be work colleagues or family and friends but they all influence what and how we learn. This video from Denison University in the USA is three years old but it is inspiring to hear how the students talk about learning how to network online. The wider the community we engage with the more chance there is for our learning to be honed by others. Basically that is what networking is all about, you find other people who have similar interests, you talk about those interests and, as a result, you learn. As you learn so do others learn from you, they also learn about you. So before you start networking you need to think about what it is that you want people to learn about you.

You need to be seen as friendly but professional, honest but not to the point of being rude and you need to be positive but not full of your own importance. You need to decide how you want to appear to others, this blog tells you about ten words you can cut from your writing if you want your argument to be more forceful. If you are trying to present a less formal personality you would want to leave some of these words in your writing; look to see how others write before you start. Be careful what you say and what you say about other people – let this video be a warning. Of course you also have to consider the law relating to what you do online. You might like to try out Accidental outlaw, a quiz about the law and online writing. One way to start networking is by blogging, like Laura Pasquini who writes about studying for her PhD. You could join discussions on Twitter, this might be with a support group such as #phdchat, it could be following a person who works in the your subject area, such as Richard Branson (if you are a business student) or a company such as TechSmith (if you are a computing student). You could join Facebook too and then link all your networking sites together thus enlarging your network. People often call this type of setup a Personal Learning Network (PLN).

You do not need to join in any discussions at the beginning, in fact it is better to lurk for a while so you can learn about the culture of the group you have joined. If you do not know how to join in here are a few tips:

  • If you do not have anything to say don’t say anything
  • Develop your listening skills
  • If you are not sure what someone means, ask them
  • Ask interesting questions about the site topic/subject area
  • Give helpful and interesting answers, do not use mundane phrases such as, “I totally agree”
  • Try to give only positive answers (this can be challenging), if you cannot be positive do not say anything
  • Do not comment or reply when you are angry
  • Provide people with links to useful sites/information
  • Do not use humour/sarcasm, it can very often misfire or be misunderstood
  • If you do say something humourous, remember to put a smiley, πŸ™‚ , so people know you are not serious

In the next post I’ll be talking more about employability and how it is linked to digital literacy. If there is anything you would like to have explained further do let me know, especially if you would like me to put a video into Quiler for you.

Summer siesta

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So here we are – the last post of this academic year. Students and lecturers are starting to pack up which leaves the campus free to be invaded by builders and other such people. Backstage, where no one can see them, people are furiously preparing for next semester.

One of our students has taken advantage of some University supported work experience in Australia. Lauren is studying Digital Film Production here at the University on the Screenwriting course and whilst in Melbourne is writing a blog about her experiences. Follow her progress and let her know that we are thinking about her enjoying all that lovely Aussie sunshine πŸ™‚

Why not get blogging/Tweeting/Facebooking like Lauren and let us know what you are getting up to over the summer break. Give me the link to your publications and in September I’ll devise a prize for the person who gets the most comments over the summer.

Happy holidays everyone 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.

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™‚

    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™‚

    Joining in … what?

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    Here I am, back from sunny Italy and missing the warmth like crazy πŸ™‚ Just been looking around to see what has been going on whilst I was away. I have a few things to bring to your attention that you will find worthwhile following up. Some really good stuff from University of Oxford, one of which I first mentioned in the September 24th post.

    Oxford University provide some online activities called, “23 things for Research“. These activities can definitely be used by researchers but are also really useful to students, lecturers and support staff too. If you just want to read what goes on this site that’s fine but you will get a lot more from it if you register and join in. Have some fun with setting up a blog and writing your first post,considering your “personal brand”, using Twitter, RSS feeds and Storify – and that’s just to start with! One of the blogs created by a student is Amy’s Inkwell – I like it, it’s a good start to blog writing.

    Other things you might like to engage with from Oxford University are their videos and podcasts. Many of their podcasts are discipline specific and are really interesting but they do others too. The easiest way to pick these podcasts up is to go to the oxengage Facebook page and look for the links. A video I particularly enjoyed was a talk by Professor Marcus Du Sautoy on how he uses social media – you can see it now on Oxford Podcasts: http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/what-does-marcus-du-sautoy-do-social-media-video A podcast which was rather good was, “Would you blog the truth?” by Peter Gill.

    I think you might like this too. It’s about identity in our digital engagements. The item is from a course at Galway and the article is written by Tony Fish.

    ok that’s it for now, see you tomorrow πŸ™‚

    It is all so exciting!!

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    Now what was I talking about – oh yes, Twitcam. Twitcam is a great little addition to Twitter, just go to their site and follow the really simple instructions. Once connected a Tweet will go out on Twitter giving the url to your live video stream and you can Tweet and/or talk and let people view you all at the same time. Great for giving short demonstrations or for having people join in a discussion. I’ve linked it in to Second Life too, (this video on YouTube shows you how to do it) which will be great for those people who cannot join us in Second Life for the Research Seminars we run there. If you want to find the University of Worcester go into Second Life and search for University of Worcester. Don’t search for it on the Second Life Maps web page, it isn’t working properly (I have reported it to SL).

    Just one more thing today. Go and look at what Mimas are doing now. Mimas are a JISC supported Centre based at Manchester University. Three of us went to see what they were doing with the Scarlet Project which is using virtual reality in education. What they have done now is to bring satellite imagery into the classroom. Really fantastic stuff for educators and students.

    It’s all chchchchanges :)

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    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™‚

    The joys of writing?

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    Like anyone who maintains a regular blog input I must (somewhere in my psyche) enjoy writing. There are times when writing is very easy, sometimes the muse completely eludes me and sometimes it’s a really up-hill, frustrating task. In my wanders round the metaverse I have found a few items on writing that I’d like to share with you. One ‘cos it gives me something to write about and two ‘cos I think you’ll find it interesting and useful πŸ™‚

    This article from Socialmedia.biz is about how to get over social media writers’ block. It’s a bit different from what you and I might do as it’s coming from a business background rather than an academic one. There’s no reason why we can’t learn from these folks though. Chris Abraham the writer of the post knows what he’s talking about – at least, what I mean is, his experiences coincide with mine.

    Gradhacker often has useful posts on writing (as well as loads of other types of help). I particularly like this one, Your Academic Twidentity, you do need to know how to write for Twitter. It is a different skill from writing your blog or your thesis. Do read Andrea’s post and the one she directs you to at the end, How to Hack it on Twitter, it’s all really good advice – especially the one about following #phdchat.

    Of course, as always, I direct you to Thesis Whisperer. A great blog, run by people with lots of experience in academic writing. Provides a platform for posts and good discussions with other PhD students, PhDs and people with experience in publishing. I like this post on different approaches to writing from February by “Ben” from the Literature Review HQ.

    Literature Review HQ has a forum for your questions and lots of tips, like this one on finding your literature review theme.

    Finally, don’t for get PhD2Published. The site is a bit bright but I find that helps on a dull day or when I’m feeling fed-up with writing πŸ™‚ Lots and lots of interesting stuff to look through and prevent your from facing that writing task πŸ™‚

    To be or not to be …

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    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™‚

    Socialise and Learn

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    I went on my induction tour for The Hive this morning. Wow – what a beautiful place! Students won’t start using it until July but I think you are all going to enjoy the space and the facilities provided in this L-space place.

    Seriously busy friending the students who are joining Second Life at the moment. I offer them a teleport, a chance to join our group and advise them to start friending one another. Social spaces are all about being social and being social supports learning! So start getting out there and being social πŸ™‚ It’s not just research students who have to learn to use digital media, we all do if we want to keep learning and growing through all our life. I found this really useful site about Digital Literacy, CyberWhy-s. I like the videos on the page I’ve just directed you to but there are loads more on this site – I was particularly drawn to the part specially for adults. So useful that it’s all on one site though.

    A friend alerted my to an app called engag.io that helps you to keep track of all the different social media sites you use (don’t forget the more you socialise the more you learn). This article on the ReadWriteWeb says it is really easy to use – I’m certainly going to give it a try when I have time on the weekend.

    Remember to socialise well – follow the advice from my previous post and the Twitter advice from the LSE. You might also like to try using one of these tools from the Educational Technology and Mobile Learning site. I’ve mentioned Scribblr before, ‘cos I think it’s rather neat but you might like to try one of the others too.

    Developing Digital Literacies

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    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:)

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