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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Updated UK Search Stats

Graph Via Hitwise Intelligence, updated search engine statistics:

Google 78% (+3%)
Yahoo 9% (+13%)
MSN Search 6% (-25%)
Ask.com 5% (-2%)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Hamster bite puts man in hospital

Hamster A man was taken to hospital after suffering a severe allergic reaction when he was bitten by a hamster.
The 50-year-old was trying to retrieve his pet from under the floorboards of his home near Evesham, Worcestershire, when the rodent attacked.

I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER? Science of the Invisible is where all the hot stories are!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Institutional email is SPAM

SPAM Darlene Fichter (via Brian Kelly):
Many of the high school students I know, for example, are always "on" so real-time communication tools fit their lifestyle best ... students use email less ... University direct "email" is no longer an effective channel. I suspect that institutional email is seen as a form of spam … intrusive and not important. The real email action is happening on a non-University account.

Facebook is the new Apple

Facebook logoOn Brian Kelly's blog UK Web Focus, John Kirriemuir commented "Something is going on with Facebook".

Guardian Unlimited says Facebook is the new Apple.

That would be it then.

Science 2.0

An editorial in Nature (447, 1-2 ;3 May 2007) calls for the use of electronic laboratory notebooks to combat science fraud, although the original article fudges the issue of how public the data should be. In a follow up to the editorial on the Nature blog Nautilus, comments by Jean-Claude Bradley, one of the few scientists with experience of this technology, suggests that a simple wiki is best suited for the purpose.
I can hear a bandwagon starting up. Is this going to be the next big thing in scientific research after open access publishing?

Monday, May 28, 2007

Fair Use Video

I'm late to this party, but it's still worth pointing at this video which is a Disney mashup illustrating copyright law and the principle of Fair Use:
  • Teaching
  • Parody
  • Critical Comment
Watch the video, and be careful:



Saturday, May 26, 2007

Download Squad

logo Over the past few weeks I've found that I've had to unsubscribe from several of the tech blogs I used to read. Information overload, pressure of time, and they just weren't delivering the goods often enough. But Download Squad is a blog I discovered relatively recently which is definitely worth reading. The latest reason why is their post on the new Facebook API toys, which I was vaguely aware of but hadn't explored before (even if the tools are disappointing, to say the least).
Update: Tony like the Facebook filesharing apps.

What's your favourite tech blog?

Friday, May 25, 2007

More SplashCast Mashups

SplashCast
Tony Hirst pointed at The DNA Show and asked:
Are a few more shows going to be added to turn this into a fully blown channel? And is there any OpenLearn content we can mix in?
When you scratch the surface of YouTube, there isn't any more quality on-topic material which can be added to this show (these animations are expensive to produce), so I used what's there and made:

The DNA Show
The RNA Show
The Protein Show

I also spent some time trying to add flickr content into the mashup, without much success so far. Hmm, OpenLearn content, that's interesting though ... let's talk about that.

Add value not links

Robert Scoble Scoble is sad because few people link to his link blog.

Add value, not links.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

H2O

H2O Just when I feel I've got my head around SplashCast (see previous post), comes H2O (via Tony Hirst).
H2O is an open source, educational platform that explores powerful ways to connect professors, students, and researchers online. H2O offers playlists of online resources, Rotisseries, a more structured approach to online discussions, and, of course, RSS feeds. The introductory video has more style than substance, and left me more confused than before. Clearly it's early days for H2O, but I've subscribed to a few feeds, so we'll see what happens.
Anyone want to help me out with this one?

The DNA Show



Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Google bans essay site adverts and buys into biotech

Google Google is to ban adverts for essay-writing firms that target university students who are prepared to pay other people to do their coursework. Good for Google, and good PR, but the ban only applies to paid adverts so it will still be possible to find the sites through search, or as S. pointed out, by following the link to essaywriter.co.uk that the BBC was dumb enough to include on its page.
Yawn story. So tell me, what other ads should Google ban which would be a greater contribution to education?

And: The quest for world domination continues as Google invests in genetics firm 23andMe. According to the Financial Times, chief executive Eric Schmidt says Google believes personal information will be one of the firm's key avenues of future expansion. The algorithms will get better and we will get better at personalisation. The goal is to enable Google users to be able to ask the question such as "What shall I do tomorrow?" and "What job shall I take?"

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Color Oracle

Color Oracle
Color Oracle takes the guesswork out of designing for color blindness by showing you in real time what people with common color vision impairments will see. Color Oracle applies a full screen color filter to materials you are designing – independently of the software that you are using. Eight percent of males are affected by color vision impairment – so make sure that your graphical work is readable by the widest possible audience.

flickrSLiDR


Created with Paul's flickrSLiDR.

flickrSLiDR allows you to easily embed flickr slideshows on your website or blog. All you need to do is enter the flickr URL address of the user, photo set or group you would like to embed along with some options. Nice: Eyecandy 1, Boring pages 0.

m-Learning Goes Mainstream?

wi-fi Update3: Panorama: Bad Science.

Update2: More Wi-Fi waffle. Evidence, anyone?

Update: It's not very often I agree with the BBC's Bill Thompson, but he's got it right this time: Wi-Fi? Why worry?

Thanks to Andy Black for pointing me at this piece from Educause Review, Enabling Mobile Learning. This is a very upbeat article implying that 2007 will be the year m-learning comes of age.

I'm not convinced. For one thing, luddites still rule, like the Professional Association of Teachers, which wants an investigation into whether there are health risks from wireless computer networks in schools (in the lack of any evidence that there is), and wi-fi paranoia is growing.

Mostly though, my own research is showing that students have strong preconceived perceptions of these new formats, for example, commenting that they only listen to audio podcasts on computers because these are associated with "work", whereas personal mobile devices such as mp3 players and mobile phones are reserved for "entertainment". Students carve out a range of online spaces and are reluctant to let social and academic spaces overlap.
Doesn't sound like the year m-learning comes of age to me, but if you think I'm wrong, let me know.




Monday, May 21, 2007

Visual search thesaurus

Interesting tool (via Ewan McIntosh). Visual Thesaurus is an interactive dictionary and thesaurus which creates word maps that branch to related words.
(US$39.95)
Screenshot

OpenLearn conference

logoResearching open content in education
30-31 October 2007, Milton Keynes, UK

The ways in which people can learn are changing with new opportunities to learn at a distance, to learn as part of global community and to learn using new technologies. Open and free educational resources are an important component in this expanded world of learning and major initiatives are now underway to provide such resources.
This conference recognises the research challenge alongside the business challenge of providing, using and sustaining free and open resources and invites contributions and participation from those who are interested in how to research open content and what the findings are from those working in this challenging area.
Conference participation will be over two days near The Open University in Milton Keynes. There will be no charge for attendance with priority for registration given to those responding to the call for papers. Selected papers will be developed for publication in a special issue of the Journal of Interactive Media in Education.

MySpace vs Facebook

Facebook logoUpdate: Facebook Visits up 106% Since Opening Up in September

This isn't an original observation. In fact, it would be best filed under blindingly obvious, except that I don't have a tag for that category. For the past couple of months, I've been experimenting with the social networking sites MySpace and Facebook.
I've been struck by how different they feel for two sites which are ostensibly so similar. One reason for this is the emphasis they place on linking. Facebook emphasises networks and institutions (I suspect that lots of people still don't realize that you can join now Facebook without being a current student) while MySpace place the emphasis on individuals as friends. One of the ways to do this is to join a regional rather than an institutional network (although of course, you can join both), something else which is missing from the individually-centered MySpace. At my advanced age, the more "grown-up" Facebook interface is also a lot easier on the brain than some MySpace pages - MySpace profiles really are toys that users seem to enjoy playing with - the triumph of style over content?
So I guess it's pretty clear that I prefer Facebook to MySpace. And I'm not the only one who feels that way. Google Trends shows what's going on with both sites, but doesn't reveal any clear differences between them:

Google Trends MySpace

Google Trends Facebook

So I guess it finally comes down to personal choice. What's yours?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

RSS is a coral reef

Coral reefCoral reefs are hot at the moment. Steve Jones is into coral, and Dave Winer (the most original thinker online at present?) says RSS is a coral ecosystem.

Just as the crown of thorns starfish can decimate a reef, if Google buys Feedburner, will it become the crown of thorns, upsetting the RSS ecosystem?



Via Seb Schmoller:
  1. It is now simpler for citizens to organise or search digital things as they themselves decide, rather than for them to be classified for them.
  2. The links between digital things, and the tags and other attributes that people give them create a rich layer of meaning that can be drawn upon by others.
  3. The difference between data and meta-data is disappearing (except the the extent that meta-data is "what you know", and data is "what you are looking for". (this is the best definition of meta-data I have ever seen)
  4. Through Wikipedia and blogs and similar there is an increasingly public negotiation of knowledge, in which experts are decreasingly the arbiters of authority. (not sure I totally agree with this one)

Big Science

Science
We have used 19.9 million papers over 5 decades and 2.1 million patents to demonstrate that teams increasingly dominate solo authors in the production of knowledge. Research is increasingly done in teams across nearly all fields. Teams typically produce more frequently cited research than individuals do, and this advantage has been increasing over time. Teams now also produce the exceptionally high-impact research, even where that distinction was once the domain of solo authors. These results are detailed for sciences and engineering, social sciences, arts and humanities, and patents, suggesting that the process of knowledge creation has fundamentally changed.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

flickrvision

Update2: Flickrvision3D Make sure you try the full screen mode - the ultimate mashup?

Update:
Flickrvision, the Screensaver (Sorry, you need to be on OS X for his one :-)

Hypnotic...

Friday, May 18, 2007

2007 SET Awards

2007 SET AwardsEnter your best students for the 2007 SET (Science, Engineering & Technology Student of the Year) Awards. Entry costs nothing, and if your student is shortlisted it could lead to wide recognition and publicity for your teaching and your university. The SET Awards are the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland’s most important and prestigious national awards for undergraduates.
Entries are received in the following categories:

Best Aeronautical Engineering Student
Best Biology & Biotechnology Student
Best Chemical Engineering Student
Best Chemistry Student
Best Civil Engineering Student
Best Computational Science Student
Best Food, Nutrition & Health Student
Best Electronic Engineering Student
Best Information Technology Student
Best Maritime Technology Student
Best Materials Student
Best Mathematics Student
Best Mechanical Engineering Student
Best Pharmacology Student
Best Physics Student

The Awards are presented at a magnificent ceremony before an audience comprising of hundreds of technology students, academics, senior industry executives; as well as senior figures from government, scientific and technical institutions and the media. This year’s ceremony will take place at Alexandra Palace, London on the 20th September 2007.
The most outstanding student is declared the GKN Science, Engineering & Technology Student of the Year. This award is sponsored by GKN and is given to the highest scoring winner of all the previous categories.
As well as recognising the best science students, we also recognise the best lecturer! The SAGE Lecturer of the Year Award is sponsored by SAGE Publications, one of the world’s leading academic publishers and is given to the lecturer who nominated and taught the overall Student of the Year.
Entering is a simple ‘point and click’ process via the awards website: www.setawards.org. Read the Rules section before entering a student. If any of your students are working on exceptional projects, then now is the time to enter them – SET closes for entries on 20th July 2007.

Sad times ... and yet

Plymstock LibraryWhen I was a kid I was a compulsive reader. This public library was my second home. They used to run "The Good Readers Club" - read a book, answer a set of questions, get points. No money, just endless points. I used to bug the librarians by taking out the maximum three books, taking them home and reading them, then going back the same day.

The library will be closing on Saturday 2nd June to be replaced with a new library on the same site.

I always liked this light and airy building, with it's striking wooden roof. It's smell is part of me. Don't take away my childhood.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

UCLA Undergraduate Genomics Research Initiative (UGRI)

UGRI
The UCLA Undergraduate Genomics Research Initiative (UGRI) is an initiative where students learn about cutting-edge research in genomic biology and biotechnology by experiencing it. The UGRI is not a course; it's a collaboration. Students in different undergraduate courses - from science general education to upper division life sciences - participate and learn while building a major research accomplishment: the sequencing of the genome of the bacterium Ammonifex degensii.

First Life

First Life Someone just sent me this alternative to Second Life:


WARNING: Contains offensive material.


Ho ho, we are amused :-)

Glanceability

EyeWhat's the difference between glanceability and dumbing down?

Glanceability is about enabling "users to understand information with low cognitive effort".

So what is dumbing down?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Shot in the foot

It's pretty clear that many students don't really get web 2.0, or maybe I've just forgotten what it's like to be young and reckless. Already today I've come across:
  • One student offering "essay writing corrections" on the new Facebook Marketplace (his tagline is that he is "an opportunist bitch! See Marketplace on facebook for details")
  • Another student blogging (with photos) about "drunkenly defacing the University's toilet posters" at a party.
So what's a 21st Century, socially-networked academic to do? Shop 'em, or hope that they grow up eventually?

Update: A UK university has written to all its students threatening them with disciplinary action for comments made about staff on the internet.

Online music technologies evolve

We7Interesting online music developments are appearing. Splashcast hijacks podcasters RSS feeds, Adam Curry strikes back (ho ho ho - PodShow, Schadenfruede - need I say more?).

Meanwhile, back with the grownups, Peter Gabriel launches We7, a new music download service that offers free tracks to users willing to listen to advertisements. After listening to the song with the advert for four weeks, you can download the song advertisement-free - the end of DRM approaches?

Update: Amazon to sell unprotected music Contains the usual inaccuracies from the BBC about Apple, in this case, failure to report iTunes plans to sell DRM free music. About what we've come to expect from BBC reporting on Apple in the last year - ever since they got into bed with Microsoft in fact.

Aussies Rule

Australian FlagAcademics working in UK have the highest pay scales compared to colleagues in other Commonwealth countries, but British academics drop to third place when a cost of living factor is applied to income, and their place at the top is taken by Australian academics.
The average academic pay scale for Australia was USD $80,859 (£40,729), when PPP (purchasing power parity) was applied. This compared to an average of USD $63,735 (£32,000) in the UK which was just behind the average of USD $63,969 (£32,197) from Canada.
Jay Rubler, the educational researcher who helped compile the report, said the findings suggest that if UK academics wanted a better standard of living they should move to Australia where their pay would go further.

Best popular science books named

Six authors have been shortlisted for the prestigious Royal Society Prize for Science Books. Issues covered by the books include climate science, psychology, human evolution, biodiversity and medicine. The winner will be awarded £10,000; the author of each shortlisted book will receive £1,000.

Update: And the winner is:




Stumbling on Happiness, Daniel Gilbert
Psychologist Daniel Gilbert reveals how and why the majority of us have no idea how to make ourselves happy. The drive for happiness is one of the most instinctive and fundamental human impulses. In this revealing and witty investigation, psychologist Daniel Gilbert uses scientific research, philosophy and real-life case studies to illustrate how our basic drive to satisfy our desires can not only be misguided, but also intrinsically linked to some long-standing and contentious questions about human nature.


Runners up:




Homo britannicus, Chris Stringer
Homo britannicus tells the epic story of the human colonisation of Britain, from our very first footsteps to the present day. Drawing on all the latest evidence and techniques of investigation, Chris Stringer describes times when Britain was so tropical that humans lived alongside hippos and sabre tooth tigers; and times so cold they shared the land with reindeer and mammoth; and times colder still when humans were forced to flee altogether.






In Search of Memory, Eric R Kandel
Nobel laureate Eric R Kandel charts the intellectual history of the emerging biology of the mind, and sheds light on how behavioural psychology, cognitive psychology, neuroscience and molecular biology have converged into a powerful new science. These efforts, he says, provide insights into normal mental functioning and disease, and simultaneously open pathways to more effective treatments.






Lonesome George, Henry Nicholls (my personal favourite)
Lonesome George is a 1.5m-long, 90kg tortoise aged between 60 and 200, and it is thought he is the sole survivor of his sub-species. Scientific ingenuity may conjure up a way of reproducing him, and resurrecting his species. Henry Nicholls details the efforts of conservationists to preserve the Galapagos' unique biodiversity and illustrates how their experiences and discoveries are echoed worldwide. He explores the controversies raging over which mates are most appropriate for George and the risks of releasing crossbreed offspring into the wild.






One in Three, Adam Wishart
When his father was diagnosed with cancer, Adam Wishart couldn't find any book that answered his questions: what was the disease, how did it take hold and what did it mean? What is it about cancer's biology that means it has not been eradicated? How close are we, really, to a cure? There was no such book. So he wrote it. One in Three interweaves two powerful stories: that of Adam and his father; and of the 200-year search for a cure.






The Rough Guide to Climate Change, Robert Henson
Robert Henson has written this guide to a pressing issue facing the world. The guide looks at visible symptoms of change on a warming planet, how climate change works, the evolution of our atmosphere over the last 4.5 billion years and what computer simulations of climate reveal about our past, present, and future. It looks at the sceptics' grounds for disagreement, global warming in the media and what governments and scientists are doing to try to solve the problem.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Jakob Nielsen Blasts Web 2.0

Jakob NielsenHype about Web 2.0 is making firms neglect the basics of good design, say web usability guru Jakob Nielsen.

Confirmed RSS-hater Nielsen says sites peppered with personalisation tools were in danger of resembling the "glossy but useless" sites at the height of the dotcom boom.
"Don’t try and do something new on your website, because you are not important enough"

Why do schools lag in technology?

David Puttnam In a thoughtful essay in the Education Guardian, David Puttnam, chair of education charity Futurelab, notes that children quick to grasp the joys of new technology and asks why are schools lagging so far behind?
At a recent digital education conference in San Francisco, one of the more memorable remarks quoted came from a child: "Whenever I go into class, I have to power down." That roughly translates as: "What I do with digital technology outside school - at home, in my own free time - is on a completely different level to what I'm able to do at school. Outside school, I'm using much more advanced skills, doing many more interesting things, operating in a far more sophisticated way. School takes little notice of this and seems not to care."

You've been outsourced

Thanks to Seb Schmoller for the heads up about WizIQ.
WizIQ is a North Carolina based service (and Chandigarh in India?) brokering contact between learners who want to pay for on-line tuition and teachers who want to be paid to provide it. The interesting part comes when you start to browse the offerings currently available. Most of the biology ones I looked at were asking US$1-2 per hour.
You get what you pay for I suppose.

Monday, May 14, 2007

How HIV Infects Cells


Retroviruses such as HIV-1 enter cells via the interaction between glycoproteins on the surface of the virus particle and cell surface receptors. Since this is such an important step in virus replication, knowledge of the structures of these glycoproteins and the molecular details of their interactions with cell surface receptors is of great importance.
Electron tomography is a powerful approach to determining the three-dimensional structures of large sub-cellular assemblies such as virus-receptor interactions. The images are built up from a series of optical sections generated in the electron microscope. In this paper, the authors used the method to examine the interaction of purified SIV virions with CD4-positive target cells.
The envelope glycoproteins of primate lentiviruses, including human and simian immunodeficiency viruses (HIV and SIV), are heterodimers of a transmembrane glycoprotein (gp41), and a surface glycoprotein (gp120), which binds CD4 on the surface of target cells to initiate virus entry.
The trimeric virus envelope glycoprotein surface spikes are around 120 Å long and approximately 120 Å wide at the distal end. Docking of the virus on the T cell surface occurs via a neck-shaped contact region that is about 400 Å wide and consists of a closely spaced cluster of five to seven rod-shaped features, each about 100 Å long and 100 Å wide. This distinctive structure is not observed when viruses are incubated with T lymphocytes in the presence of anti-CD4 antibodies or drugs which block the interaction of gp120 and CD4.
This data shows that these lentiviruses make contact with T cells via a unique structure which the authors call the entry claw. This is typically composed of six clustered rods that span the contact region. Further investigation of the structure of this entry claw and its formation could lead to new insights into the design of more effective drugs to inhibit HIV infection.
This video is based on a paper recently published in PLoS Pathogens:
Electron Tomography of the Contact between T Cells and SIV/HIV-1: Implications for Viral Entry. PLoS Pathogens 2007 3 (5) e63

Sunday, May 13, 2007

RSS To Speech

Google gadgetA new Google gadget downloads RSS feeds from any website, reads them using text-to-speech and shows the feeds on screen. After installation the program will use the computer's default voice, although there are many high quality voices across multiple languages that can be used with the gadget (they must be SAPI 5 compatible).
I have to say that because it is wrapped up in so much proprietary software, I have not been able to try this, but it has the potential to be useful from an accessibility point of view. If you try it, please leave a comment and let me know how it works. In the meantime, I'll stick with Odiogo, for all it's faults.

Update: I received an email from the Odiogo support team. Impressive, it's good to know they are listening. "If there are areas we can improve our system, please don’t hesitate to let us know." My response to this was:

The main difficulties I have with Odiogo are:
  • The American accent of the voice, which is great for a North American audience, but tends to be off-putting for European listeners. The solution to this could be to allow subscribers a choice of synthesized voices.
  • Occasional difficulties with mispronunciation of technical words. It's hard to see how to get around this one, but since this blog is technical in nature, the specialized jargon is important to the audience, and mispronunciation in technical spheres quickly destroys confidence the content. Hopefully this issue will improve as the sophistication and technical vocabulary of the voices increases.
In the meantime, try Odiogo for yourself and see what you think.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Learning and Teaching in the Sciences: practical tips and advice from recognised experts

University of LeicesterLearning and Teaching in the Sciences: practical tips and advice from recognised experts
The University of Leicester is pleased to announce the second annual 'Learning and Teaching in the Sciences' event on 23 May 2007 in George Porter Building Lecture Theatre B, 1.30 pm - 5.00 pm (with wine reception to follow). This event focuses on the dissemination of innovation and good practice in HE science teaching. It is recommended to experienced practitioners looking for new ways to inspire their students, and to postgraduates and newer members of staff looking for tried and tested ideas to make their teaching more effective.
Speakers:
  • Professor Melanie Cooper is the Alumni Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at Clemson University, USA. She is in the UK on an Higher Education Academy Physical Sciences Centre tour. Her areas of research include: Improving students' problem solving skills, the development and assessment of project based laboratories, and active learning for large enrolment classes: 'Using Technology to Investigate and Improve Student Problem Solving Strategies'
  • Professor Norman Reid is the Professor of Science Education at the University of Glasgow. His areas of research include: attitude development and measurement, cognitive learning in the sciences and mathematics, aspects of assessment and evaluation, group work and problem solving: 'A Scientific Approach to the Teaching of the Sciences: what do we know about how students learn and how can we make our teaching match this to maximise performance?'
  • Dr Alan Cann is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Biology here at the University of Leicester. His areas of research include molecular virology and pedagogical research: 'The impact of web 2.0 technologies on science teaching'
Feedback from last year's event:
  • I thought the three talks yesterday where excellent and extremely helpful in different aspects of teaching. What is good about events like these is that you get to see how other people in science go about teaching which in turn inspires you to improve and experiment with your own teaching styles.
  • I'm really glad I went to this event as it addressed many things that I am concerned with about my current teaching program. It far surpassed any course that I have been on previously. The case examples in chemistry were close enough to what I do to allow comparisons and it was great to get lots of innovative tips.
  • I had to leave slightly early and as I walked away from the building I tried, unsuccessfully, to think of anything I'd attended at the university, since 1993, which had been quite so inspiring. This is how I've always wanted to teach...

Science & Innovation Saturday

PosterScience & Innovation Saturday is a free event for local businesses at the University of Leicester. It is an opportunity to meet with University of Leicester scientists and engineers in a relaxed and informal atmosphere, to find out how the University could help your business get an innovation injection. There will be University of Leicester business development personnel and representatives from local business support organisations on hand to advise on funding opportunities, intellectual property and technology transfer.
Networking opportunities
Guided tours of University facilities
Entertainers to amuse the family..!
Free parking
Refreshments

Sex and Patrick Moore

Patrick MooreI did consider blogging about the latest Patrick Moore story, but one way and another it passed me by so I decided to let it go.
Fortunately, Alun Salt has done a much better job of discussing it than I would have done, so just read his post over at the Integrated Sciences blog instead!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Assessed Online Discussion Groups in Biology Education

BEeJ
Sophisticated software such as Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) are rapidly being deployed by universities. Despite widespread use of such systems, experience shows that there is frequently poor pedagogic development, leading primarily to use of VLEs as electronic document repositories rather than as online learning systems in which the available suite of tools are used to their full potential. Online assessment is the major potential efficiency gain of such systems, but most staff do not scratch the surface of the full capabilities of the software. Based on our experience, we describe practical guidelines for a model of online assessment which promotes deep versus superficial learning, encourages higher level learning competencies and inclusivity.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Web Sites As Graphs

From the blog that brought you Web2DNA, here comes websitesasgraphs. See if you can guess what these are:


Graph
Graph
Graph

Thanks Ewan.
I have a feeling that this may have some value beyond entertainment. Here for example is Robert Scoble's WordPress blog, and here's his GoogleReader link blog. Interesting differences. How will you use it to analyze your site?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Free Photoshop - FauxTo

FauxToThanks to Ewan McIntosh for the heads up, I checked out FauxTo. On a 2Mb broadband link it was reasonably fast and it has an impressive featureset, but since I have my own copy of Photoshop, I won't be switching. Still a useful site if you don't have access to Photoshop, or you object to the silly money Macromedia is asking for CS3.
However, I was amazed by the "similarities" between FauxTo and Photoshop. As far as I'm aware, there's no commercial relationship between them, so how long before Macromedia goes after them?

Arts students less keen on work

ArtDon't blame me - it's the BBC's headline. According to the UK Graduate Careers Survey of 17,000 final year students, arts and humanities students are much less likely to have made plans for working after university and expect less well-paid jobs. Students on courses such as law, business, information technology and engineering had strong expectations of stepping from university into well-paid jobs. The media sector remains the most sought after in terms of career aspirations, with applications from 13.4% of students. This is followed by teaching, investment banking, marketing and accountancy.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Everything is Miscellaneous

The implicit lesson is unmistakable: Knowing is something done by individuals. It is something that happens inside of your brain. The mark of knowing is being able to fill in a paper with the right answers. Knowledge could not get any less social. In fact, in those circumstances when knowledge is social we call it cheating.
Nor could the disconnect get much wider between the official state view of education and how our children are learning. In most American households, the computer on which students do their homework is likely to be connected to the Net. Even if their teachers let them use only approved sources on the Web, chances are good that any particular student, including your son or daughter, has four or five instant messaging sessions open as he or she does homework. They have their friends with them as they learn…
One thing is for sure: When our kids become teachers, they’re not going to be administering tests to students sitting in a neat grid of separated desks with the shades down.












Sunday, May 06, 2007

Let’s Hear from the Disabled

SignatureLorrelle at WordPress has asked to hear from disabled blog readers ways in which the challenge of reading blogs and surfing the web can be reduced.
You can follow the conversation here.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Social networks everywhere

logoPart of my plan to reduce my carbon footprint involves limiting my driving as much as possible, so I haven't been in any hurry to get a GPS SatNav for my car. Last weekend someone lent me a TomTom unit for a long trip, and I was surprised at how well it performed, exceeding my expectations. So I treated myself to one of my own, and spent yesterday evening playing with it.
Pretty accessible technology, although mind blowing to think of this small portable unit simultaneously communicating with up to five GPS satellites. It has to be said that the makers have done a pretty good job on the technology side, and as far as I can tell, most of the marketing has been achieved by word of mouth recommendation. What is there to be afraid of in a box which talks to you in the voice of Yoda from Star Wars? The one thing which did surprise me was TomTom Buddies, your own personal mobile social network.

So maybe it's not surprising that UCAS is jumping on the social network bandwagon by launching yougofurther, a MySpace Wannabe owned by UCAS Media, the money-making arm of the admissions service (admit it, you didn't know they had a money-making arm, did you?). The company has teamed up with commercial partners - including iTunes, Lonely Planet and Cult Clothing - who will offer competition prizes as well as advice to students on issues such as gap year travel and the latest news in fashion and music.

So will potential and future students see this as friendly gesture from higher education, or does it look like a scheme to squeeze some money out of them even before they've stumped up the first installment of their fees?


Thursday, May 03, 2007

Accessibility 2.0: People, Policies and Processes

Brian KellyBrian Kelly has posted both the text and the background to a paper on “Accessibility 2.0: People, Policies and Processes” which will be presented at the W4A conference in Banff, Canada on 7-8th May 2007 (the conference runs in parallel with the International WWW 2007 conference). You can read his post here and the text of the paper here.

I like the holistic, consensus, approach proposed as this addresses past difficulties with accessibility approaches and is entirely pragmatic – something which matches my own approach to technology in general.
The only thing I would add to the proposal is that I personally would place even
more stress an evidence based practice which needs continual revision ("always beta") as users become more technically proficient and as expectancies change (e.g. problems with video, FLASH, etc).

This has the potential to be a major step forward for the accessibility of online learning materials.

Guardian league tables

ArseIt's kind of the Guardian to point out all the flaws in their university league tables.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Schools Receive The Inconvenient Truth

The DfES today sent a resource pack designed to help teachers and pupils explore and understand the issues surrounding climate change to every secondary school in England.
The pack, which includes the Al Gore film An Inconvenient Truth and a number of other resources, was developed by Defra and the Department for Education and Skills. It is accompanied by online teaching guidance showing how to use the resources in the pack in science, geography and citizenship lessons.
While I personally am in favour, I can see this causing some complaints, not only from the climate change sceptics (yes, we have those in the UK too), but also from a few parents who are already saying that their children are already worried about this issue.

Update: Yup, I was right.




Guilt

BloglinesAndy Black's latest post has shamed me into pointing at my public Bloglines feeds once again:

They used to be here but somehow they got lost in one of the site redesigns. Well now they're back, in the sidebar. Reading Andy's public RSS subscriptions (Bloglines also allows private RSS subscriptions for those sites you're too embarrassed to be associated with) alerted me to several new feeds I hadn't seen before.
It's good to share.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Coral: A Pessimist in Paradise

When does Steve Jones sleep? He's never off the media, and although he saves time by not blogging(!), he makes up for it by producing a seemingly non-ending stream of best-selling popular science books. I can only assume he writes the same way he lectures:
My students accuse me of talking too fast in lectures (I blame them for listening too slowly)
His latest offering is Coral - A Pessimist in Paradise:
The reefs tell the tale of how life began and record many of the catastrophes through which it has struggled. As human folly threatens their paradise with premature demise such places remind every one of us, pessimist or otherwise, that our own extinction is as certain as theirs. Whether it will take place in the slow course of evolutionary time or in the near future as our impudence causes Nature to take her revenge, neither Newton nor Darwin can say.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a scientist in possession of an audience, must be in want of an aphorism. And Jones is rarely short of an aphorism:
Science is a broad church full of narrow minds, trained to know ever more about even less.
Blogroll: Coral Bones