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.

    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 Scoop.it 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™‚

    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™‚

    Where we are

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

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

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

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

    Better now thank you :)

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    So much better now – no hot eyes or aches and pains, hurrah!

    I’m currently writing (trying to write?) a Social Media Guideline for Learning and Teaching. As a part of this process I’ve been looking around at the advice other universities give and at what teachers have to say about using social media. I like this post from the Teaching the Teacher blog. Stephanie writes about, “when fear extinguishes innovation” for student teachers. I think the student teachers amongst you will enjoy reading Stephanie’s post and the comments it has received. I, for one, can’t agree with her more πŸ™‚ Do have a read and let me know what you think.

    For you history students out there, here is an article from the American journal, the Chronicle of Higher Education. History academics are renowned for not being frightfully interested in anything technological, at least as far as their teaching is concerned. This phenomenon exists on both sides of the pond, it doesn’t seem to matter if you are American or British. Most people won’t know Daniel J. Cohen but he is one of the people who is trying to change all that. Prof. Cohen works at George Mason University where he manages the George Mason Centre which produced PressForward, Zotero and Omeka (all of which I think I have mentioned before on this blog). Do read the article and tell me what you think. Will the history discipline be improved by moving into the digital age or will it destroy something unique?

    Now something for everyone but especially for those of you interested in programming or teaching programming. The world now has a very tiny computer which costs about Β£25, it is called the Raspberry Pi. The original idea was to find something that would enable young people to play with programming on a computer that cost very little – most modern computers just don’t provide that opportunity. Read about the Raspberry Pi Foundation and the launch of the computer here. I rather like the idea of a real computer about the size of my bank card – I can see all sorts of things taking off from this development – how exciting πŸ™‚

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