Friday, February 29, 2008
The fact that the Drudge Report broke the news that Price Harry was in Afghanistan is significant, signalling the end of the cosy embargo between the Ministry of Defence and the British media, and indicating once again that neither governments, monarchies, commercial publishers or universities can control digital information in the way they were able to lock down older forms of knowledge.
Information wants to be free. Information also wants to be expensive. That tension will not go away. Stewart Brand
Last week I was offered press credentials by PLoS, enabling me to recieve pre-publication information under embargo. My first instinct was to say no, but the fact that PLoS is open access made me accept (keep your eyes peeled over at MicrobiologyBytes :-)
By publicizing open access information, I can salve my conscience about becoming a media shill.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
- Type about:config in the Flock location bar.
- Type in keyword in the filter box, which brings up an option keyword.URL.
- Delete the Yahoo search string and replace it with .com (or http://www.google.com/search?btnG=Google+Search&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q= if you want default Google search behavior instead).
.com bliss returns!
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Monday, February 25, 2008
Some of the initial enthusiasm for one of my current projects is wearing off in the cold light of day (or maybe it's just because I'm feeling like tshi [anag] today). Problem I was thinking about over the weekend:
We can't push a PLE onto students or it's no longer a PLE, it's in danger of becoming a VVLE. So how do we "teach" PLEs while avoiding falling into the next silo?
* In case you were wondering, the answer is no.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
- folder based view - private, shared, or public; even share the contents of a folder via a webpage with the Box Widget.
- edit your office documents via box's integration with Zoho
- Preview documents you don't want to - or can't - edit, using Scribd's iPaper.
- Publish documents to the world via Scribd
But the more I look at it, the more I'm tending to think that our students will prefer the simplicity and familiarity of the SkyDrive interface over the bells and whistles of Box.net. And since we're talking about e-portfolios as part of PLEs, user choice is a major factor, and uptake and maintenance becomes almost as important as features...
Friday, February 22, 2008
University of Leicester, Tuesday 20 May 2008, 13.30–17.30 (with wine reception to follow)
The University of Leicester Student Learning Centre, in conjunction with the Faculties of Science and Medicine and Biological Sciences, is pleased to announce the third annual 'Learning and Teaching in the Sciences' event.
The theme for this year's event is the use of Problem Based Approaches in undergraduate science degrees. The event will include presentations on the use of Context and Problem Based Learning (CBL and PBL) in science practicals and on the application and benefits of problem solving activities. There will also be a ‘hands-on’ PBL workshop which will be of particular benefit to those new to these techniques. We are delighted that the day will be composed of sessions run by some of the most experienced science PBL innovators in the UK and hope that many of you will be able to enjoy the opportunity to hear from three distinguished speakers.
The approaches discussed should be of relevance to practitioners across the physical, medical and biological sciences and there will be much to learn and share for both newcomers and experts alike. The event has been designed to allow plenty of opportunity for discussion. If you have any interest in the ways that problem based approaches might benefit your teaching, this is an event not to be missed.
Click here to book your place.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
ze frank, who is currently into Twitter in a big way:
Twitter with its bizarre/random limitations and restrictions is a retreat for those craving fuzziness? A cave? Like in Plato's cave, maybe, but here the shadows are 140 characters long.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
It took me less than 30 seconds ...
Here's the code to stick on your own page:
<form id="searchbox_014911858250242089637:s_czywgyf6m" action="http://www.google.com/cse">
<input type="hidden" name="cx" value="014911858250242089637:s_czywgyf6m" />
<input name="q" type="text" size="40" />
<input type="submit" name="sa" value="Search" />
<input type="hidden" name="cof" value="FORID:1" />
<input type="hidden" name="ie" value="utf-8" />
<input type="hidden" name="oe" value="utf-8" />
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
(and if you're interested, MicrobiologyBytes).
Hat Tip: Stephen Downes
Monday, February 18, 2008
The aim of this project is to develop an institutional exemplar of a personal and shared virtual space for students' learning, research and networking using Web 2.0 technologies independent of any institutional services. This will provide users with the skills to maintain such environments as the major component of their personal development planning (PDP) and as part of a lifelong learning agenda. The space will be built around a range of freely available Web 2.0 tools and services, complemented by the Blackboard Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and other student support information repositories. When both parts of this two-stage project have been completed, we will have put in place new channels of communication between students, staff and instigated new methods of flexible and timely feedback to students. Additional outcomes will include implementation of a framework and guidelines for integrating formal learning and Web 2.0 services, including institutional codes of practice in using such services, to be made available to the entire University, for both staff and students.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
"I’ve given up on attempting to explain Twitter. If you’re someone who wants to understand something by reading about it instead of using it, then you’ll probably never understand it."
Just Breathe: Email Apnea
In. Out. In. Out...
The Linux anti-virus question
"Does it come with anti-virus?" That stumped the salesman. "Linux," he said, "It has Linux anti-virus."
Microsoft website aimed at teaching kids about intellectual property in the hopes of discouraging future generations from illegally downloading and using copyrighted music, movies, and images.
New Models of Scholarly Communication
We are no longer anticipating change; we are in the midst of it.
Journal of Electronic Publishing, Winter 2008.
Open Access in 2007
The volume of new open access activity in 2007 is impressive.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Good point Tony, but I think we are talking about different uses of language here. The PLEs won't "push", but as the managers of this project, we have been asked to educate students in constructing a PLE, and how they might use it to meet the requirements of a particular medicine module. I was using "push" in my previous post in the context of making students aware of relevant resources which they can choose to incorporate into their PLE, using technologies of their choice, if they choose to do so.
Am I off the hook? :-)
Friday, February 15, 2008
We are generating innovative online learning materials using Web 2.0 technologies which cover generic information literacy topics. Working closely with course tutor of the MBChB Medical Law and Medical Ethics courses, we are using features such as RSS and social bookmarking to push key learning resources to students at the appropriate point in their course. Students can then use these resources at the stage in their module when it is immediately relevant to their learning. These might include short online video tutorials, collections of key resources students can add to (using collaborative social network tools), and online tutorials. The module will involve creation of a personal learning environment (PLE) based around tools of the student’s choice and students will be encouraged to add their own resources. In addition to the medical course, Web 2.0 information literacy tutorials for library users will act as supplements to face to face training, drop-in sessions or instant messaging sessions where an individually tailored approach to training can be taken. This "loosely coupled teaching" approach seeks to blend the advantages of institutional systems while leveraging the power of contemporary social software/Web 2.0 tools.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Leicester was the leading university in the Midlands - ahead of Oxford, Warwick, Birmingham and Nottingham. Leicester received 15,659 applications, a drop of just 0.5% on the previous year and a real terms increase of 15% when technical changes at UCAS are accounted for (for 2008 entry, the maximum number of course choices that an applicant can make has changed from six to five).
The latest figures from UCAS show a continued rise in the number of university applicants. As of 15 January, the date by which applicants should apply to be given equal consideration, there were 430,489 people applying for a full-time undergraduate course at UK universities and colleges - a rise of 8.9% or 35,182. The top five subject choices remain the same at this point in the year as last year with some small changes in order. Law by area remains top, pre-clinical medicine climbs from third to second, psychology falls to third and English studies and management studies swap places and are now fourth and fifth respectively.
- Day One: It’s a little larger than a paperback, and about as heavy. I was quite impressed with the startup time; it took about 15 seconds for the system to boot. The Eee PC comes nicely packed with some of the best free tools on the web: Firefox, GIMP photo editor, and fast links to all of the popular web-based e-mail services (Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc). Although the Eee PC aced the Flash test, the web-surfing experience was not perfection. Many sites optimized for higher resolutions required horizontal scrolling to take in.
- Day Two: Waking up to Wi-Fi problems, multimedia fun, and video looked solid on the 7-inch, 800x480-pixel display, as did photos.
- Day Three: Add USB keyboard, mouse and VGA monitor and the Eee PPC rocks.
- Day Four: Enabling the full Linux desktop.
- Day Five: Installing the gOS with Google's applications: Gmail, Docs & Spreadsheets, GTalk, Reader and Search.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Salary - Grade 6 £23,002 to £26,666 per annum
A full-time Executive Clerk is required to head up a small team working in the busy School Office within the School of Biological Sciences. The key roles of the post-holder will be to manage and oversee the administration of the Biological Sciences undergraduate teaching programme in conjunction with member departments and the administration of the managerial aspects of Biological Sciences under the auspices of the Director; management of the Biological Sciences Undergraduate Office, servicing of Biological Sciences committees, coordinating teaching timetabling requirements and the administration of Examinations for all undergraduate degrees within Biological Sciences. Previous experience in an education setting would be advantageous but is not essential, as is experience of budgetary control.
Applicants should have a degree-level qualification or equivalent experience and should have considerable on-the-job experience in similar roles. Experience of Microsoft Windows and Office applications is essential. The person appointed will work as part of a team providing support to the School's undergraduate teaching programme and will share in the administrative responsibilities associated with the department, including admissions, recruitment, preparation of teaching materials and examinations. The successful candidate will have excellent interpersonal skills and be able to work effectively under pressure, managing and prioritising their own work and that of the rest of the team.
Downloadable application forms and further particulars are available. If you require a hard copy, please contact Personnel Services - tel: 0116 252 2435, fax: 0116 252 5140, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that CVs will only be accepted in support of a fully completed application form.
Closing Date: 5 March 2008
The internet is a copy machine .... Unlike the mass-produced reproductions of the machine age, these copies are not just cheap, they are free.Education can't be copied, because education is a service, not a product. The sooner we get it into our heads we are selling a service not a product, and that we're never going to sell someone two kilos of science (or law, or geography ...), the sooner we'll start to understand this education business.
How does one make money selling free copies?
When copies are super abundant, they become worthless.
When copies are super abundant, stuff which can't be copied becomes scarce and valuable.
And that's why Laura Dewis' defence of OpenLearn is flawed.
While OpenLearn units must be structured learning experiences in their own right, including learning outcomes, we recognised from the beginning they couldn’t compare to the supported open learning experience our registered students enjoy. But again, they weren’t meant to be.At present, OpenLearn isn't worth over five million quid (particularly not since the recycled materials it's based on have already been paid for). Will it ever be?
Update: It's worth adding to this the report that Seb Schmoller points at, Analyses of European Megaproviders of E-learning, which gives seven main reason why mega-initiatives fail:
- Realize that hard-nosed market research is essential for the success of any e-learning initiative;
- Plan carefully for and control carefully the revenue and expenses. Seeding funding dries up quickly;
- Choice of courses and their accreditation is crucial;
- Define precisely the relationships of your initiative to existing providers and define precisely the institutional model you will adopt;
- Plan carefully to manage both educational and business activities;
- Avoid top-down political and boardroom initiatives;
- Avoid consortia of institutions that compete with each other and the consortium.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
The cost of the scheme, believed to be more than £40 million, could be financed either by Leicester City Council, borrowing the money, or by a public-private partnership.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Why not teach students to build a PLE which will benefit them in the real world and sustain lifelong learning? Naughty Ecto!
How to integrate VLEs/LMSs with other student-facing systems
Bad, bad, bad. Poorly disguised branding (shades of OpenLearn?). Trust your students and set them free. Naughty OU!
Classroom2.0: Twitter, delicious and participatory learning
Best educational use of Twitter I've seen yet. I want to try this.
What is DIY video? Why is it important to study? What method do we use? What do we want to know?
Visualizing Social Media
Using Mind Manager flow charting software to create a diagram detailing how information flows through the social networking and media sites - mapping a PLE.
Higher Education Academy lacks credibility
The HEA, which costs 24 million a year to fund, is not yet widely perceived as adding "significant value" to the sector.
Russell group universities crap at teaching
Research-intensive universities have presided over a decline in the quality of undergraduate teaching as they neglect students in the pursuit of research excellence - says the VC of one of the biggest.
HEA's web portal "clumsy, unwieldy and not fit for purpose"
A new web portal (rather 1990's no?) for the UK Higher Education Academy's 24 subject centres has been branded a "mammoth waste of money". Too right. What is HEA for?
Biffy Clyro, Thursday 7th February 2008
The Twang, Tuesday 12th February 2008
Hot Chip, Thursday 14th February 2008
The NME Awards featuring The Cribs, Joe Lean & The Jing Jang Jong, The Ting Tings & Does It Offend You Yeah? Saturday 16th Febrary 2008
The Hoosiers, Tuesday 19th February 2008
Jack Penate, Saturday 8th March 2008
Young Knives, Thursday 27th March
Amy Macdonald, Thursday 15th May
Sunday, February 10, 2008
So instead, I'll discuss my constant eco-guilt, and how I'm going to use Web 2.0 to solve it. Not via the potentially counterproductive thenag.net, but by using The Man in Seat Sixty-One (shame about the name).
I'm not a member of the Church of Offsetting Absolution, so I still haven't forgiven myself for flying to The Netherlands for a meeting in Delft last month. Why did I do it? Not on cost grounds - I wasn't paying :-) Because trying to arrange overland transport was just too much hassle compared with flying. That's where TMISSO comes in.
Type in the details of your next business trip and see what it comes up with. Even if you don't give a damn about climate change, wouldn't you rather indulge yourself in some Real Travel where the journey is part of the adventure? Or do you prefer airport misery and driving to Milton Keynes?
Friday, February 08, 2008
I immediately got a couple of tweets back saying let us know how it goes, so here goes. I should start by saying that I don't believe you can "teach" someone how to build a personal learning environment, any more than you can teach them "wisdom" - it's an experiential, contextual thing. So the answer is no, you can't "teach" PLEs, and instead we'll have to use the dreaded F-word (facilitate). I approached the session by using my PLE tutorial as a jumping off point to help students ask the question How can I manage information overload on this module?
There was a slight stunned silence early on, and I'm sure that for some of the students the volume of new information was a bit overwhelming, but from my perspective the session went well, and I'm hoping Jo, who was also there, will add her comments. The questionnaire we ran lends some support to that view, with 50% of the students saying they found the session useful for the module, 50% neutral and no negative opinions. All of the students said that they found the session and the tools demonstrated useful for some aspect of their studies.
There were some clear winners with the students, notably the Google suite. The interlocking nature of all the Google applications helped, as did the fact that it only required a single log in to access everything. Interestingly, most of the final year students in this group did not already have Google accounts. (One of the fun parts was trying to explain to one student why they couldn't log into "their Google account" using hotmail.com details :-) It came home to me again what a powerful position Google has built for itself by the way it has extended its core business to encompass so many aspects of online activity. Once the Google social network is in place, it's game over.
Although we tried to be relatively neutral in facilitating, if anything, we pushed del.icio.us as a potential solution to information overload that they should investigate. We had a few takers, but not as many as for Google Reader, and for me, the most interesting part of the session was the fact that a couple of students found new ways to do things that I had not considered. I was particularly impressed that they discovered without prompting that they could use Google Reader to rip individual posts from a rather recalcitrant VLE RSS feed without post pages (via the <item> tags in the feed, although they weren't working at the code level), and tag them in Reader:
Obviously this approach wouldn't work for information sources other than RSS feeds, and it was a concern that once they had discovered this, they showed little interest in alternative ways of working with the information, such as del.icio.us
My major concern over the outcomes of this session is the silo-jumping aspect, from the VLE to Google, without investigating the full range of tools available and their potential affordances. To someone encountering the concept of a PLE for the first time, the amount of new technology can clearly be overwhelming, so this pattern is not surprising. To successfully facilitate a session such as this it's sensible to break down the PLE concept into bite-sized pieces, and to illustrate these through practical competence-based tasks which when put together, span the whole range of a functional PLE.
Overall, I'm going to claim the session was successful since I learned something new about Google Reader! What's your experience of "teaching" PLEs?
Thursday, February 07, 2008
Silobreaker is a search engine for news and current events that aims to deliver "contextual insight" into the news stories of the day. If you're as cynical as me, you tend to take marketing BS like that with a pinch of salt, but actually, it seems to work. Try it:
By lots of predictive behavior and by linking together different media in the same set of search search, Silobreaker actually does represent something of the context behind the news. Lots of lovely user-configurable RSS feeds too, although these don't include the fancy network and trends widgets.
Now, I'm not saying it's a Googlebreaker (I told a student this morning they'd broken Google and they'd have to pay for it - ooh, I'm wicked), but Google is going to have to pull it's socks up to fend off the Web 3.0 competition.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
After a week I've hit the bandwidth limit (1GB a month) on the free Screencast.com trial account provided by Jing. While it is possible to upgrade to a paid account, this is rather pricey, especially considering Jing is still in beta. There are workarounds, such as saving a Flash .swf file, uploading it to a server, rolling your own embed code and then posting the whole thing, but this totally negates the point of Jing, which is "point and click" ease of use. I plan to continue using Jing for student feedback (Jing will save screen captures as .swf files which it's easy to upload into Blackboard), but there won't be any more Jing posts here, so I guess it's back to Snapz Pro X (or your favourite screen capture application) and YouTube for blogging. Sigh.
On a brighter note, I do seem to be making progress on the Ubuntu front, and this morning I installed Kompozer, which is a more advanced version of nvu, which frankly I had been struggling with (thanks for the tip Ray).
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Monday, February 04, 2008
For me, that site wasn't Facebook or Twitter, but del.icio.us. And since I discovered the value of social networking, I've carefully cultivated my del.icio.us network. My network is powerful because it it is bigger than me, but also because it is diverse, containing people with a range of knowledge and experience. But I also filter my del.icio.us network carefully, selecting a range of people who look as if they will add value, but also filtering out people who don't cut the mustard (e.g. if someone stops posting regular updates, or if it turns out their interests don't overlap significantly with mine - that's what Google is for). A valuable network isn't static, it's a dynamic entity.
This past weekend I added some valuable new contacts to my network, and I also discovered Ajaxonomy's del.icio.us Spy:
Like Flickrvision, Twittervision and Digg Spy, del.icio.us Spy presents new links (with thumbnails) in real time as they're submitted. A few minutes viewing reveals something obvious but important: most of the link submitted to del.icio.us are of no value to me. And that's why populating and filtering and your del.icio.us network is so important.
Here's Howard Rheingold's succinct explanation of building a del.icious network:
Sunday, February 03, 2008
Howard Rheingold's implementation of virual reality makes sense to me (video):
Who wouldn't rather sit in his garden and watch the flowers bloom, the leaves fall, the seasons come and go?
The issue I have is how to translate the clunky Second Life interface into a mass medium which has some utility for RL students.
And I haven't seen any examples of that yet.