12 years – and still going (just!)

So, 12 years, (and a few days) ago, I wrote my first post on here. Originally, it wasn’t here, but on Blogspot; I’ve moved it a few times, and at times it’s been more active than others. Skimming through the archives, I was particularly active in November 2007 , but there are too many months that have 0.
Over the years since I started this, I’ve also been more (or less at times!) active on Twitter – almost 13.8k posts since (bizarrely!) November 2007 . Then, later, Google+; particularly when we had it via Google Apps at Portsmouth, and I’d moved my students from blogging to using Social Media for the community development part of their coursework.

When I first moved to Dundee, I thought I’d start to blog more regularly – a new job seemed like a really good opportunity, to reflect on the changes in my role, new things I was learning, etc. I started out so well. I have many ideas about what I could blog about, and as we’re starting a team blog, perhaps writing for that will help to rekindle the enthusiasm I have for this. I don’t want it to die; it’s a valuable record, both of my views and interests – as well as the changes around me.

The OLPC renewed?

The new Infinity:One has grown from the OLPC project and from a visual point of view, there’s a definite family resemblance.

flickr photo by Emmadukew https://flickr.com/photos/emmadukew/8390141934 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

Educational Computers – including OLPC: flickr photo by Emmadukew https://flickr.com/photos/emmadukew/8390141934 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license


(Excuse the clutter in that pictures, I hadn’t got a clearer one of just the OLPC; which is currently in a packed away in a box with the Pi)
Source: http://one-education.org

Infinity One: Source: http://one-education.org

Both also use low cost technology, and, while the Infinity One uses Windows 10 (rather than the Child friendly SugarOS that is linux based); it’s much easier to update the Infinity than the OLPC ever was. Would have been great had they been able to include the screen that could be both backlit and eInk of the original; I think they had great potential. Meanwhile, I’ll just wait for the Infinity to get to the UK, and then my wee family of educational computers might get a new member 🙂

Word Clouds

I’ve used (extensively!) Wordle in the past to generate word clouds, but it doesn’t always work with some sites. I’d also used Tagxedo in the past, especially to get Twitter feeds, as it did all the filtering out of user names etc. – that’s what I’d used for the header (the green one) in here. That’s now longer working, due to twitter’s assorted changes.  Today, having actually done a bit more blogging than I had for quite some time, I have redone it using Tagxedo, but on the blog.

From Blog

“On this day”

Facebook’s “On this day” often throws up things I’d totally forgotten about. Today’s was work related, and, in many ways, it’s still as relevant now as it was 7 years ago:

I’’m recently starting to think more and more about Web2.0 and teaching; more specifically how much is actually “web2.0” (on the assumption it can be defined) and how much is what I’’m getting the students to do (or, indeed, what I, as I extend my own knowledge am doing). Is just looking at videos on YouTube any different from looking at them in the VLE? What happens when they start to upload them / attach them to a discussion posting in the VLE?
So, (and I think this is where my research is increasingly going)

  • Who should the audience be? (self / select group/ class / uni / world … and various stages in between!)
  • Where should it be hosted? (What backup do we have if it goes down [internal or external!]
    • Who’’s funding the hosting?
  • Why are we using it? Is it primarily to gather information; to disseminate; to organise personally; to collaborate (because we have to?)
    • Are the roles of all users the same – or does the original user have a different reason to all/some of the audience
  • What do we want to do? (Before/during/post using tool?)

Clearly, there are a lot of overlaps … but equally as the task/meaning etc., becomes more important, so the actual tool may become less important.

I’d also written about writing a blog post .

I was on the train yesterday, with very poor mobile broadband – so thought I’d test out Blogging from Word, by creating a post, in order to posting it when I got back here.

 

Some of the issues I had weren’t Word’s fault – this laptop has a (finger print print controlled) Password Bank. It was desperate to save my blog details – the very reluctant to let me edit them when I realised I’d got the URL wrong.

 

That sorted, I then managed to publish it! Awful! The formatting was sucked in from Word, badly. It couldn’t cope with lists at all. Finally in desperation I saved it as text, opened in Notepad & pasted in here.

 

Am going to experiment with Google gears instead!

[Here, in this case, referred to Facebook]

Google gears has long since vanished – and I can’t remember the last time I wanted to blog offline, but I’d probably just use Evernote or so & then paste in later.

And, on the subject of “On this Day” – it was June 2nd that snow famously stopped play in a cricket match in Buxton. The reason I can remember it is that’s my Dad’s birthday – and I was heading back to school after half term, insisting that, as it was the Summer Term, I had to wear summer uniform. My mother argued it was snowing, and not to be so silly. I won the argument. And shivered!

Communication – and symbols.

This morning, I saw a post about Snapchat‘s acquisition of Bitmoji (no-one suggested that one to me last week when I was trying to make an avatar, though they suggested several others).
It made me think about how much symbolic communication has been a part of the various jobs I have had.
When I first started working at Churchtown Farm, Lanlivery (now closed), I came across people using a variety of communication aids, my particular preference being an older visitor who had a hardboard sheet – with the alphabet on one side and “Beer please” on the other. That was him sorted!
Then, first at Rectory Paddock School (also closed, though this time for a merger) and later at Treloar’s I came across somewhat more sophisticated communication systems. Some, like Blissymbolics and minspeak were designed to allow the users to combine and generate a range of different phrases. Others were much simpler, merely having an image associated with a message. While I had some students using minspeak on Liberators, I was particularly interested in Widgit’s Writing With Symbols. (Archive.org’s save of the 1996 homepage)

Liberator Speech Synthesiser

Liberator – circa 1990s

Writing with Symbols was a crucial part of the toolkit to encourage adolescents with limited literacy to engage with printed material (this was the early 90s; they didn’t have mobile phones, never mind smart ones!) I also used it Papua New Guinea, altering some of the symbols to suit the needs of the children there; so, houses were on stilts, and mosquito net a useful word (though they were quite happy with fat cats)

Page of Tok Pisin reading book, symbolised.

Symbol supported reading.

The next way I found myself using visual imagery was doing an MSc in Information systems, where, among other ways of visually representing a situation, we looked at rich pictures. (Google image search).

Fast forward to now, and I see my phone having an ever burgeoning set of emoji – while an attempt to have a Social network based on emoji didn’t work, and emoji based conversations tend to be joke based at present, I can see their value in the future, especially when working across languages (and/or those with [print] literacy difficulties). I’ve recently been looking at image resources such as The Noun Project, and their (Mac) app, Lingo.

I’m also a bit of an infographic fan, and, having seen Hans Rosling introducing GapMinder, (several years ago), I’m currently investigating tools such as Tableau, looking at what might be feasible; starting to i  I to have good knowledge of R – then, well, maybe I’ll have a go. Meanwhile I’m continuing to bookmark a range of good looking sites (such as Visual Thinkery, maps of the Internet ) – and wondering if I should start to think again about using Sketchnoting to help visualise what I’m thinking. And bother the fact I failed Art O’level!

Changes ….

Change is something that has cropped up a lot for me, both personally and from a work point of view. Around this time last year, I decided to leave my job, sell my house and move North (there were personal reasons for that, it wasn’t a wild whim). That involved leaving a job I’d had for about 3 times longer than any other job I’d had, a place I’d lived in for longer than elsewhere, and possibly a change of country (depending on your view of the relationship between Scotland and England).
Since moving, I’ve now found a new job; in a different, albeit related field. I’ve arrived in a University that’s undergoing changes itself, into a team that’s undergoing change. I’m working in a field that is changing rapidly – if I think about my first computer, things have changed a lot
flickr photo shared by Emmadukew under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license
So, from that point of view, I’d have thought I’d find change not too difficult, but it’s not as easy as just learning a new OS. Well, not to me!

I was recently lent Who Moved My Cheese, which is a bit “American”; but makes a good point, about how different people react to change, and, I think, different types of change. I think I have a bit of “Sniffy” “Scurry” “Hem” & “Haw” in my, I suspect everyone does.

All of that said, I am enjoying my new role, working with new colleagues, getting to see an Educational Technologists view of eLearning, getting to grips with different systems, both organisational and technical, and even getting used to a train, rather than a bike in the morning. (It’s a lot drier!)

One of the changes I’d intended to make was to start blogging more often; there is time yet for that to happen! (Oh, and we’re moving house again soon, though this time about 1 mile across town, not 700 miles north!)

And it’s tiring! I’ve got a long weekend – so am really looking forward to it.

Similarity detection

not plagiarism detection
I’m in the process of looking at the role that similarity detection tools (e.g. Turnitin and SafeAssign) can play in helping students improve their writing skills, and detect their own errors. My personal experience is that it’s a valuable tool – as long as you spend enough time explaining to students what should be similar, what shouldn’t and thus what to do about it. All the research I’ve found would seem to suggest the same (though from the work that Lynn Graham-Matheson & Simon Starr (2013) did the students were far more likely to think that the staff saw it primarily as Police force, than the staff thought they did). Morris (2015) suggests that could be the language used when staff introduced it.
What I’m looking for now, though, are any studies that counter this view? Has anyone got any work that suggests similarity tools are best used as a plagiarism police force?

Second Life getting Second Wind?

We used to be quite active in Second Life (though I have to confess to never being that excited by it, despite the enthusiasm I tried to show my students).
I’ve felt for a while that tomorrow’s students, growing up on Minecraft might well be more responsive to it than those we worked with nearly 10 years ago. (Was it really that long?!) However, I’d not really considered the implications of VR, Google glass etc., till I read today’s ReadWrite post, and developments that Linden labs are taking. Perhaps it’s time to re-awaken Emmadw Rickenbacker.
Emmadw_Rickenbacker

Blogging, and other tools generally…

I’ve started looking through various bookmarked pages; an interesting co-incidence that when I thought I’d try to look at a range of aspects of Blogging in HE, I found that WordPress now offers the ability to use an online creator at WordPress.com to write for a self hosted blog. Not sure I’d bother in the future, but useful to test it now!

So, blogging. Where do I start? Well, where did I start? August 2004; that was just before we started teaching a unit that was going to require students to blog, so I thought I’d better have a go myself. I wasn’t entirely sure, as I’ve never been a great writer, but I got going. Over the years my blogging has waxed and waned, I’ve taken to twitter , then as we started to move students at Portsmouth into Google Apps for Education, so Google+  seemed more relevant. (This is a general one, I lost the Portsmouth one when I left). There were other tools in between times, many of which stopped offering freely hosted services (anyone else used to use Elgg?), or didn’t work for long enough to really get students to use them (Google Wave anyone?)

Today, there are so many different options – recently, I’ve had Known mentioned to me; what I’d not realised is that it’s developed by Ben Werdmuller – who’d co-founded Elgg (which I’d liked a lot at the time).

I’ve just read another story covering the changes in tools used – other than Facebook, I’d say I’ve tried most of those, either for myself, or with students. Some I’ve stuck to, some I’ve drifted from. When I left Portsmouth, I realised the problems with having material tied up in a particular domain. Moving this blog was easy – WordPress makes it so. Extracting all my contacts from Google Apps far less so. I created a “takeout” – but it’s not going to be easy to get it all back into my current account. I am starting to do it manually. Guess this is where it all adds up to a PLE. (Or, given that these are mostly things designed to work with others, a PLN).

[Oh, and not sure I’d bother using WordPress.com to create posts in the future, though it is a very clean looking interface]

 

Yet another day ..

… today it’s “Safer Internet Day” (at least in the UK). While I haven’t had time to really look at everything, the UK Safer Internet Centre has a wealth of resources, aimed at those from 3 upwards – including their parents and carers – here’s just one of them.

Safer Internet Day 2016: Red and Murphy talk to Smartie about helping your friends online from UK Safer Internet Centre on Vimeo.

[Not quite sure that a 3 year old could message someone, but perhaps the video is aimed at those who can write, and good to see Vimeo, given how many primary schools block YouTube etc … ]