Just a 4 day week :)

Two four day weeks, actually, with a 4 day weekend between. That really helped me this week, I think. I’d not realised how tired I was getting (or grumpy, though I suspect colleagues may have  …)

The weekend was spent well away from the computer – mostly in the garden, trying to prepare a bed that previously had been covered with weedproof membrane and shale bits. It’s now much improved and ready for planting.

During the week I got to join a  yoga class via Zoom, taught by a close friend (who just happens to be a yoga teacher). It’s a class I’ve missed a lot since moving to Scotland, so the lockdown has let me rejoin her classes 🙂

From a work point of view, we’re busy right now looking at exams, but already starting to think about next academic year. All I’m reading, and all we’re talking about, makes me really regret stopping doing my PhD. In that, I’d been looking at social networking (though at the time it was “Web2.0”) to support learning. I also worked on an  (online) MSc in eLearning that we ran at Portsmouth, which put a strong focus on students communicating and working collaboratively – indeed, it was for that MSc that I started this blog – we knew we wanted students to blog, so I realised I’d better set a good example.

I’m intending, over the next few weeks, to revisit what I’ve written here in the past, both the published posts, and that rather long list of started ideas – starting to draw together past experiences, with new ideas, new points raised, new technologies. When starting to do the PhD, I realised that focussing on tools wasn’t the right way, focussing on the media – text, audio, video – and the audience – how they can be used to enable students to engage with others, informally, supporting their learning, in a way that suits their needs the best. And that’s something that it’s now a case of balancing University supported tools, with those that students want to use. It’s then how we suggest way of using their own selection for their informal communication and support, with the more formalised use of University supported tools. I believe that we need to recognise both, and be able to make information available to students to help them make informed choices.

Things I’m going to do: 

As well as revisiting older blog posts and ideas, I’m going to try to focus on me. Starting yoga again and reading Marie’s blog post, has made me realise I really need to focus on the me. Having a 4 day weekend last weekend helped, but I know I can make time for me.

Things I’ve read this week:

  • Sheila McNeill’s Lockdown week 3 (I read it at the start of the week!) – The GastaGoesGlobal sounds good – would love to get time to participate in some of that next week.
  • Simon Horrocks Systematic Approach to Online learning I like the idea of co-ordinated sets of resources, as going back to my point about communication – they’d lend themselves well to curation for students to access, then time to discuss. (The ‘flipped’ classroom approach)
  • Stephen Downes got two hits this week! Creating an online curriculum hub looked at a similar idea to Simon’s – this time though for K-12 schools, rather than HE. The more critical to me was the need to update an online learning strategy
  • Wired’s review of World of Warcraft I’d listened to an interview with Bill Gates who’d mentioned that there are few models for a pandemic – which made me remember reading about the WoW incident at the time. I obviously wasn’t the only one to remember reading it 🙂

And a final picture. I’d treated myself a while ago to this. It’s large, and it’s taking time (some bits are very small & my fingers are getting older … but, Lego is so good for so many things! It’s for people of all ages. You’ll get the final when I’ve finished!

Assembly Square - Lego

“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!


RWW reports that Tweetdeck has allegedly been bought by Twitter. Nothing has been confirmed yet – but if so, then RWW’s feeling that it’s likely that support for other networks will remain is probably true. (Not that I’ve ever actually used Tweetdeck for anything other than a single twitter a/c; but it’s nice to know I could, if I wanted)
Perhaps my student’s creation of Chattercrab might manage to fill the gap!

Facebook it, Tweet it and the world knows: myth or reality.

That was the working title for the session that Timothy Collinson and I are doing for tonight’s Cafe Scientifique in Portsmouth.
As we’ve been discussing it (on twitter, natch!) it’s been quite hard to restrict ourselves to that – we’ve found ourselves drifting off almost into citizen journalism – in other words when people *wanted* their messages to be heard, rather than those that weren’t.
In many ways, that’s actually the difference between Facebook and Twitter. Most use the former, assuming only their friends will read it, most use the latter assuming the world will. But, sometimes mistakes get made.

Looking forward to it, though Social networking without gadgetry could be fun (that said, it means we’re able to focus on ‘social’ and ‘network’ without having to worry about technology getting in the way. [Just hope the flip chart doesn’t fall over, nor the glue sticks fail…]

FourSquare – or where on earth am I?

Over dinner at ALT-C, Helen was encouraging several of us to experiment with fourSquare – we got it to recognise that there were several of us in the East Midlands Conference Centre; however, some people’s devices were a bit confused – though it thought that Frances & I were about 70 m from it; it thought Helen herself was 2,500 or so m. from it. Yet, we were all on the same table! (It had Nick some 250 m from it…)
At the time, I was using the app on the iPod, connected to Eduroam. I’m now back in the hall & using the Mifi (originally just for the iPod, now for the laptop too, due to the incredibly slow University network – poor students).
My Mifi is, however, *very* confused as to where it is. I used it in Bristol (several places) a few weeks ago – indeed – we were using it (as I thought) with the iPod as a basic SatNav. It’s now utterly convinced that it’s still in Bristol – and I can’t persuade it otherwise. When the iPod’s connected to it & it’s using location sensitive stuff, it reverts back to Bristol. I’ve been in London, Portsmouth, Derbyshire & now Nottingham. And it’s not convinced.

So, when we try to all login to FourSquare tomorrow – to get a “swarm” badge (whatever one of those is!) I may well be elsewhere. So, everyone else … please sign in!
(And, if anyone knows how to convince my Mifi I’m not in Bristol, let me know)!

Uni's Closed – but how did you know.

Following a post from Brian Kelly, I started thinking about how University of Portsmouth let students/staff know that it was closed today.
We had a number of sources:

I guess some will also have had the news second hand in some way; e.g. re-tweets, via friends in Facebook, via Victory if staff put information up there etc.,
What I’m not sure about is which route staff/students actually used. I’ve asked on twitter – so far everyone who is on Twitter used it – and also one other staff member via email – which is how she found out. (And how many haven’t investigated, so have a cold walk in)
Unlike Bath, we don’t have text messaging options – which would be useful today I think, as not all staff/students have access to the Internet at home.

Blogging, Twitter or Facebook.

A couple of conversations last week while on leave – and since I’ve got back, have reminded me that I’ve really got rather behind with the blogging – and also that I’m now using Twitter more and more (not that I needed to be told either!)
Twitter & Blogging
When I first came across Twitter, I really couldn’t see the point. I liked blogging; I liked the fact I could witter (as opposed to twitter!) as much as I liked. It was really the best part of a year between signing up to Twitter before I started to appreciate it; and now I’m blogging less. Not really sure why, as I still prefer the longer posts; I’m still making a lot of draft posts – but Twitter, well, it’s more immediate I guess. They do have different uses though.
Twitter & Facebook
I never really liked Facebook – I wasn’t so keen on using it for personal stuff – but started using it for work mainly because others were. Mostly the contacts on it are work related; though I do have a few others – such as school friends (when we’ve discussed the fact that the PE teacher is *still* there!). The fact that more of my work contacts are now Tweeting has made it fairly easy for me to move away from much active use. That said, in the past two days two people have commented that they’ve had to use it for various purposes – because that’s the choice that was made. That’s one thing that I do find annoying with facebook – if a group decides to use it, you have to. With, say, Twitter, the fact it generates an RSS feed, you don’t have to have an account to see what’s happening.
Who to friend-follow?
Again, interesting differences between Facebook amp; Twitter. Should I accept all friend requests in Facebook? Ans: Not always, especially if I don’t know them well … though I have a feeling that people are more likely to be offended if I don’t friend them in Facebook.

Twitter – should I follow all those that follow me? Ans: No! Even if I ignore all those who seem to be spammers (i.e. following many, followed by few & few updates) – I still tend to be somewhat selective. There are, however, a few quirks; for example, what do I do about someone who’s following me, and one other … and only has a few updates. (And it’s someone I’ve never heard of). Because she’s interesting in blogging for learning (a/c her bio); do I follow her? Ans. In this case “yes”. No idea *why* I was selected, but it seems more of an active selection than using a list or whatever those spammers do. However, I intrinsically feel that Tweeters are far less likely to be offended if I don’t follow them in the way that Facebookers could be. (That said, the Twitters can still know what I’m doing … I just don’t know what they’re up to)…

Twitter tools

I’ve recently seen a range of new twitter tools – no doubt there are many more that I’ve not seen!

  • http://twitter.mailana.com lets you see friends & also local Twitters; perhaps a little “busy” to easily understand.
  • Twitteranalyzer Massive range of stats, though I’m a little sceptical about the “followersdensity” maps. If it is accurate … Hello to my clearly massive Argentinian audience.
  • Twitter Stream is rather fun – concentrating on all users, rather than individual ones – but fascinating the difference we get when replacing a “z” with an “s”.
  • Twitterthoughts also looks at the community as a whole – and uses the same software as Gapminder.
  • Tweetlater was something I found recently – only used it once, but remembering it could be useful in the future.

And there are 1001 other tools that I could so easily mention!