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.


a little light reading

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I thought it was going to be a really nice day today. The sun was shining, there was no rain and the ground was starting to dry up but it is starting to look a bit grim now and I expect it will start to rain again at any minute. You had all better scuttle in doors, read the blog and follow the links πŸ™‚

With all the bad weather we have been having I just could not resist bringing you this picture of London Bridge in 1814 from the British Library. Rather glad our weather is not this bad!

I just love the debate going on in this article. If you like politics or are into Open Access then read this article on openness in politics by Nathaniel Tkacz and all the really good comments that follow it. You will need at least two coffees and a couple of pastries as it’s a bit long but it is really difficult to put down. I love the comment by Tim O’Reilly πŸ™‚

Wanted: web-entrepreneurs
. I really like this Feature article in the News Letter from the Department of the Director General of the European Commission. Have a read, get involved and get into the European Futures scene!

If you have been doing any searching in Summon you will probably have come across Sherpa but I thought I would give you the link to their homepage. The work, projects and services of Sherpa are fantastic. Have a look at their site and see if there is anything useful for you there.

I have loads more to share with you but I think I will save that for another day.

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™‚

Try these out

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Not much time but I just could not resist bringing you a few of the things I’ve found today πŸ™‚

This is something you might like, a Skype auto recorder. Don’t worry about not remembering what has been said in your Skype conversations, just record it and file it for future reference.

I find this article form the Bookseller quite interesting. Who would you side with Amazon or each of the Governments? My first, gut reaction is to side with Amazon – well, I mean, who wouldn’t “stand against the man” πŸ™‚ but then … What would those unpaid taxes have been used for by the Governments, ummm, just asking that’s all.

I’ve been talking a bit about Open Access the last few times on the blog. I was reminded of the Directory of Open Access Journals the other day and thought I would pass it on to you.

Now I think you will really like this one – Popcorn Maker. Have a look on this page at this Science is For Everyone video from one of the TEDtalks about perception and research (it’s very interesting – I mean it, it is) then have a look here at what Popcorn have done with Beau Lotto’s talk. Although this example is about explaining things, I think this is a great way of presenting a critique don’t you think πŸ™‚

From printing to reading

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ok everyone let’s see what I have managed to find today.

If you are into gadgets you might have already heard of 3D printing but I still think it’s worth exploring. If you have never heard about 3D printing before, here is a BBC video about it. I think this stuff is fantastic, especially as the technology is reducing in price very quickly – I bet that in three years time it will be the thing every student wants to come to Uni with πŸ™‚ Just imagine what you could make with it – no, may be I shouldn’t ask you that!

I know this isn’t about technology but I just had to include this as it is one of my pet hates. Britain and America have been described as, “two nations divided by the same language”. For those of you who get confused by constantly seeing American spelling, or if you just want a laugh, here is a little help from the Online College.

I found this on the Technology for Teachers site but I think that it could be very useful for students too. Similar to Storify but just for pics is Pixntell. This would be a great tool for giving feedback in class (or in the VLE) on stuff you have had to find – much less boring than a written paper or PowerPoint.

Now then this is American but there are going to be lots of books and articles you want to read that are printed in America – so take notice. This next piece I found is all about how to find online, digital books, articles, papers from Libraries all over America and they are FREE! There is academic stuff and recreational reading so go and enjoy yourselves 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.

A conflict of interests?

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I know this sounds strange but I am fascinated by copyright. The history of it, the way it has twisted and turned over the last approximately three hundred years. ok, so it annoys me intensely at times, as I’m sure it does many other people. It is interesting that as things become popular they are scooped into the Copyright Laws and I like to watch the power the big businesses wield in the constant tug of war over what should be included. Don’t get me wrong, I think we do need something like Copyright Law and I think we should observe the law. I just find it rather amusing – in 50 years time the issues over things like Pirate Bay will all be old hat. The things like Pirate Bay will all have been legitamised and pulled into the Copyright Law and something else will be being wrangled over. The twists and turns of the Copyright Laws though do prove a problem for us when we want to use or to produce something ourselves.

This is the (for want of a better term) “digital age” and things are changing, fast, very fast. We all have to learn quickly to use the newest and most up to date, to ensure we are not contravening a law or making an awful social gaffe πŸ™‚ We can keep up to date by following people like Lyn Parker and her Copyright compliance and the #copyright on Twitter and, of course, the Web2Rights resources site. Make sure you use the tools and information sources available to you through modern technologies – it is all there to help you and it’s free πŸ™‚

I’d be really interested to hear your views on all these copyright issues – honest I really would πŸ™‚

Tit bits for the new

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Yesterday I was at the JISC Virtual Worlds in Education Forum in Staffordshire University. Nice place, good company and lots to chat about. Not enough space to tell you about all of it but I thought you might like a look at this game which is part of Staffordshire’s Induction to the University. They are aware there are a few things that need changing but I’d love to know if you would have liked something like this before you came here to Worcester. Give it a go and let me know what you think.

Now something from the Thesis Whisperer. As you might have gathered I rather like this blog, there is always something interesting and helpful on it. This time it is 5 rookie researcher mistakes but don’t be put off by the focus on researchers. The advice given here applies just as well to all students. Get into good habits at the beginning. If you’re past the beginning don’t think it’s not for you – make a new beginning by using this advice. I just wish Thesis Whisperer had been there when I was a student πŸ™‚

Here is something for all of you. Photo Pin provides Creative Commons Licensed photos for you to use on your blogs or whatever. Just put in a search term for the subject of your choice and hey presto, there they are. I don’t promise they will all be in english but you will get loads of them πŸ™‚

Getting a bit late

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Well this is getting a bit late even for me :$ Afraid I’ve been rather busy today and have only just got round to getting this out. This post is particularly aimed at the students I was with today on Introduction to New Media (MECS1008) but it might interest a few other people too. Just want to say well done to Ban for being the first to sort out his avatar and email me – I do love it when a plan comes together:) There are just a few things I want to provide for the folks on the module.

Rebecca and I mentioned some reading we would like you to do before we meet on 27th February and 5th March. The first of these is Reinventing Ourselves: Contemporary Concepts of Identity in Virtual Worlds By Anna Peachey, Mark Childs. This can be found in Google Books and you should read pages 13-21. The second piece to read is at Virtual Worlds: A Performative Perspective on Globally Distributed, Immersive Work, from MIT, released on a Creative Commons License. Please read all of this if you wish but it is a little long so concentrate on pages 12-15. This article is from the Sloane School of Management at MIT and, besides providing an insight into identity in virtual worlds also demonstrates just how widely, and increasingly, used virtual worlds are in business. You might also like to read part of an excellent book by Jim Blascovich and Jeremy Bailinson called Infinite Reality: Avatars, Eternal Life, New Worlds and the Dawn of the Virtual Revolution. This book can also be found on Google Books; you should read the section called The Virtual Laboratory but be careful you could get hooked into reading the rest of the book πŸ™‚

Remember if you have any problems with either your avatars or these readings please get in touch with me by email (

New leaflets in the Digital Literacy Series

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Ahh, great to be back again! The first blog in the new year – I hope you are all raring to go πŸ™‚

This is just a short blog to bring you the new leaflets I have been slaving away at. I will, eventually make them available on the new ILS website but I still have some work to do on my part before it is presentable. So here are the leaflets for you:

ILS – Digital Literacy Series No.1 Creative Commons – a Brief Overview
ILS – Digital Literacy Series No.2 Good Practice advice for education in a digital world
ILS – Digital Literacy Series No.3 Creating Safe and Effective Online Learning Resources
ILS – Digital Literacy Series No.5 OER Framework – Supporting Text and Flow Chart Page 1, 2&3, 4

Please post a comment if there is any topic in particular you would like to see a leaflet on or if you have any comments about these first ones.

Here, there and everywhere

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Just a quick post today as I’m (again) running a little late. I do have a small excuse though I’ve been waiting for the latest video of the Research Seminars to upload to Screencast. It takes ages but at least you can put up more than 15 minutes which is all that YouTube allows you to do without paying for it. The Seminar was by Dr. Mark Childs from Coventry Uni so do go and have a read of the conversation (Mark decided to use chat instead of voice this time).

I’ve added a few new items to the site so do go and have a look there.

I’m in Coventry tomorrow at the Innovative Research in Virtual Worlds Conference so I’ll try to do some blogging from there.

Are we all online?

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Hi All, I hope you all took a look at our “Calling all lecturers”. Of course there is stuff there that would interest students, especially education students, but it is mainly for lecturers in the same manner as the ILS Facebook wall is mainly for Students. We now have eight pages of interesting things to read about, comment on and do so there should be something there to interest you. If there isn’t let us know what you would like to here more about.

I’m always interest in what the Beyond Distance Learning Alliance at Leicester University are doing. Professor Gilly Salmon was the first person I met from Leicester, she had just published her book on e-tivities and was running some workshops on it – from that small beginning Carpe Diem developed; you can download their Carpe-Diem-Guide-June2011-final here under CC Licence. On the Research to Practice, Innovation to Mainstream page do go and look at the videos at the bottom, especially the “SWIFT: Completed virtual genetics lab” and the “Relating Research to Practice” video.

Are you into OER (Open Educational Resources)? Here are a couple of things you might like to try. First a little test for your department or institute. The web2rights site is excellent, I’ve mentioned it before and I’m certain it will come up again as will the OER InfoKit. This particular publication for the InfoKit is especially for managers – go on, have a go at using this πŸ™‚

So quiet …

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Sorry so busy today, just one thing that really caught my eye, came from Twitter #bodyimage. How many of you agree that advertisements should not use airbrushing on pictures of people? Read this article and see what you think.

Oh yes and congratulations to Jenni Waugh from World of Kays for getting interviewed by BBC Breakfast today πŸ™‚ Hurrah!!

Copyright and copywrong

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If you’ve been keeping up with this sort of thing you’ll know that, although there is always a lot of angst about copyright, there has been more than usual just lately. In November of 2010 David Cameron announced there would be a review of UK copyright law and in there should have been a report published in April but it ended up published in May. There were lots of, so-called, leaks and loads of arguments flying backwards and forwards – it kept Twitter very busy. I’ve been looking around at copyright over the last few weeks, just to keep up-to-date for my work. I thought you might be interested in these three sites, The Copyright Advisory Office from Columbia University (remember this is American copyright law), Copyright and research in the humanities and social sciences from the British Academy. I thought this other site was quite interesting too, The Copyright Clearance Centre, helpful but don’t forget that although it works globally it’s an American company. You might also find the podcast series, “on the business of writing and publishing”, Beyond the Book, produced by The Copyright Clearance Centre interesting too. This most recent podcast is on the discussions going on in the European Union about Copyright.

Researcher stuff – Communication

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I’ve just been going over some researcher apps with a colleague and thought that may be I ought to blog some more on this topic here.

There is an awful lot of stuff going on out on the web for researchers and loads of social media apps for you to use. I’m just going to look at a few of them.

First of all of course there is RIN (Research Information Network) and their Social Media guide for researchers. That though is just the beginning. I’ll use the headings that the guide provides, i.e. Communication, Collaboration and Multimedia to pull together some of the tools available to you. Today I’ll start off with Communication. This information is constantly changing but hopefully this will at least give you a start.

As far as communicating/publishing your research highs and lows and or your final work it is a lot easier to use a blog than it is to create a web page. Blogs are just supa now at dealing with all the technical stuff that you don’t want to think about. It is better and easier to create a good blog rather than a very poor web site. At the moment most people would probably agree that WordPress is the best app for blogs. Do make sure you go to ‘cos you just want a simple blog, you don’t need to download anything or deal with databases at all. If you are asked to do that you are in the wrong site ( Do join Twitter for your microblogger but, once you have joined, download Tweetdeck. Tweetdeck is actually an aggregator (an app that allows you to write in one place and publish to all your different social media – and lots more). I use Tweetdeck just for my Twitter feeds. I open a column for each interest group I follow – it makes it a lot easier to read the conversations people are having!

Have you ever been to one of those really big conferences? You know people who are attending too but you just can’t find them? Foursquare can be really useful for those times when you are meeting up with someone or want to meet someone but don’t know where they are. Using the information from your Twitter, Facebook and address book Foursquare helps you find where people are – it can also be a great help when you want to explore a strange city – finding places of interest near your location.

Nearly everyone on the planet is joined to Facebook and some use it a lot more than others. If you want to use Facebook for research purposes then do be very careful when creating your privacy settings. Read through all the information first then create the settings to make sure that you get attention from research people and not someone else. Don’t think of Facebook as something only non-researchers use – there are plenty out there sharing their ideas and work. Another really useful app is is rather like a LinkedIn but for researchers. You can follow other researchers, add your publications, information about your work with links to your blog, and you can also use a text chat to talk to people like yourself.

Finally don’t forget that you probably now have loads of social network places to write in. Wouldn’t it be great if you could send to all of them all at the same time. Well you can with apps like HootSuite and Friendfeed. These Aggregator apps are very easy to use, HootSuite is currently the most popular but it really is just a matter of taste. You can not only post to all your friends at the same time but you can also record a message to be sent out at a particular date and time – which can solve such a lot of problems!

ok that’s it for today, tomorrow I’ll write something about apps you can use for Collaboration.

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