Wednesday, August 24, 2011

All that caught my eye... 08/24/2011

  • TheInterviewr is a new mashup that makes it super, super simple to record telephone interviews online using your existing telephone. It is a dream come true and for now at least - it's free.

    The system uses APIs from Twilio and to let users schedule interviews with contacts, enter notes for the interviews and upload associated files to a central place. Then, when it comes time to do the interview, both parties are sent an SMS to remind them it's about to begin. The person performing the interview clicks a button on TheInterviewr website and both peoples' phones are called automatically. Have a conversation, refer to your notes and documents, then click the same button to end the call. A recording will be available to listen back to immediately. It's like magic.

    tags: education eLearning onlinelearning free telephone record interviews research tool edtech online

  • Over the past decade or so, the Internet has become a huge source of information and education, especially for those who might be short on time, money or other resources.

    And it’s not just crowdsourced data collections like Wikipedia or single-topic blogs that encourage individual learning; huge corporations and nonprofits are making online education and virtual classrooms a very formal affair these days.

    From the first online classes (which were conducted by the University of Phoenix in 1989) to the present day, when online education is a $34 billion industry, more and more students are finding new life and career education opportunities online.

    tags: education onlinelearning technology infographic eLearning visualization infographics Mashable online edtech

  • What makes some technology so compelling and transformational that it thrives in a school setting and others languish? We've all heard stories of computers gathering dust in storage rooms while students and teachers everywhere have taken to photocopiers, calculators and, of course, cell phones.

    One of my most surprising moments upon entering a very basic primary school in rural Ayenhyah, Ghana - a room with no electricity or running water - was being told that the school had a no cell-phone policy. Students have such a hunger for communication that they get their hands on a mobile phone by any means necessary. They keep them charged using the full power of their creativity, hooking them up to the small solar cell powering the community's medical clinic or latching them onto a motorcycle battery. Kids from Botswana to the U.S. to Zambia love to text.

    tags: educational technology technology developing world edtech elearning online education

  • Futurist and author Kevin Kelly posits that in 10 years time, each of us will carry 2 computing devices on us: "one general purpose combination device, and one specialized device (per your major interests and style)." He also predicts that we will wear on average 10 computing things: "We'll have devices built into belts, wristbands, necklaces, clothes, or more immediately into glasses or worn on our ears, etc."

    tags: elearning learning technology online devices predictions

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, August 19, 2011

To my 17 year old self...

So, yesterday was A-level results day. Though my own results are years ago, working in a university you can't escape the significance of the day for so many students who are itching to find out what their future holds when their exam results come through. I was thinking to myself what would I want to say to my 17 year old self 19 years after I got the results which meant I hadn't done well enough to get to my first choice university?

First, I'd want to say - let's be honest, you knew that you would get those results - the reason you feel bad is because you feel sad that others are disappointed in you. I know you feel scared about the change and the future that lies ahead. The truth is though, none of this will matter in the long run. You'll end up in a place in life that's just as fine as the 'perfect results' version of your life would have been. The bit you don't realise, is that the university you're going to go to now won't be the end of the story. The degree you're about to take won't make you happy. And, to be honest, you'll loathe just about every bit of your studies. But it's okay. Again, it'll just be one of those things which you'll emerge from at the other end and realise that that didn't really matter either.

Then I'd want to tell me that those results which seem so important. The results that your Head of Sixth Form has asked you if they're enough and you've said 'no', and the conversation has ended there and then. Those results won't even get a mention on your CV in the adult version of your life. You'll vaguely refer to '3 A-level passes' and wince when people mention A-level Maths. But, it still won't really matter.

The thing which you'll realise is that life is a jigsaw puzzle made up of thousands and thousands of pieces with an ever changing picture. And that's exciting. And that's what makes life interesting. And that's why, despite the fact that you think that you'll be done with education when you finish that degree you'll go on to take (and hate). You'll discover that you've only just started learning. And when you've grown up a bit, you'll do another degree. And light a fire of love of learning inside you that you just can't put out. And do another degree. And another. And want to take that passion for learning with you wherever you go.

And you'll know that no matter what, you have it inside you to survive and find a way to find the interesting things in life.

The thing I'd tell my 17 year old me is that this is a blip. A speck. A moment.

And then I'd give myself a jolly big hug.

PS And by the way, 17 year old version of me...
PPS ... I wouldn't change a thing.

[originally posted to my photo journal on 18th August 2011]

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sharing images on Twitter

If you've logged on to Twitter today or in the next few weeks, you'll probably see this 'Share an image on Twitter'.

They say:

"Uploading and sharing images on is easy! Below you’ll find a brief how-to and some answers to common questions about uploading images on Twitter - right from your Tweet box!"

... and the instructions they provide are nice an' straightforward!  No mention of copyright or licensing though...  which is a bit an omission.  Images up to 3MB, hosted by Photobucket, galleries to come... that all sounds good, even so.

... video next, maybe?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Can I tell you a secret?

Source: Sarah Horrigan, 2011
I don't get Google+

Well, I get it in that I know approximately how to use it as well as some quick tips to help life on Google+ along.  But, shall I tell you what I really don't get about it so far?  It's like social networking with your mum in charge.

Firstly, the whole identity crisis thing at the moment.  No pseudonyms.  What?  Why?  There is a long tradition of writing being done using a pseudonym going back hundreds of years.  From famous authors to performers on stage or those needing / wanting to protect their identity - not using your 'real' name is perfectly acceptable.  Only recently I had an experience which made me think again about my decision to use my own name for the various bits of material I share online.  I've always tried not to name individuals (though I do mention my children occasionally) unless I have their consent or am writing about something they've publicly created.  But you are still liable to things you've written being interpreted in a way you never intended - and that having professional consequences for you in the long term.  The temptation to carry on writing but to use a pseudonym instead was strong.  In the end, I opted for 'being me'.  Despite the knowledge that the things I write could be perceived in a negative light should someone decide to do so, I know that I attempt to write in a personal, reflective and constructive style and I would be happy to discuss with anyone the views and viewpoints I share.  'Me' is still my preference.

But to decree that those who have chosen to use a pseudonym - and especially for those who've built up an online identity which is as 'real' as any other - cannot use a service such as Google+ is bizarre.  It's as if someone has just switched on their computer to discover a world beyond the physical and is shocked that the communication paradigms by which they operate no longer need a 'this is my given name' standpoint to function.  And function well.  Your identity is about the sum of the parts.  Your online identity even more so.  Using a 'real' name no more guarantees anything about the user than anonymity shields it.

Source: Sarah Horrigan, 2011
So, identity with Google+ is a sticking point.  Here's another.  Circles.  Like a conversational lasso they at once include those within and exclude those around them.  Yet, social networks are powerful because of the connections they facilitate and the connections they encourage between people who have yet to 'meet'.  I don't necessarily know who will read this blog post.  Or share it.  Or comment on it.  And I don't much care.  That's not to say I don't care about those three elements - just to say that the journey something can take you by sharing it online is all the more interesting for the uncontrolled nature of releasing something into a myriad of potential connections.  When I tweet something, it can either disappear into a stream of other messages or will float and be noticed.  There is no emotional consequence attached to it being 'ignored' because it isn't being ignored, it was just 'there'.  Google+ on the other hand encourages you, like a child in show-and-tell, to go up to the front of the class and share your work with others.  You select the circle.  You present to the circle.  The circle comments.  Or the circle is quiet.  Additionally, if your stream isn't flowing with shared items, then the silence is eerie.

If I were using Google+ in a slightly more formal setting, for example as part of a personalised learning environment with Google Apps during some kind of learning activity... well, that level of control could be very handy indeed.  But I'm not.  And it feels, just as with most formal spaces, somewhat artificial and abstracted from 'real' life.

Perhaps, as I was with Twitter, I'm not being fair.  Not giving it enough time.  But this isn't 2007 when I
 blasted the concept of microblogging.  And then spent the next few years repeatedly going 'okay, *now* I get it'.  Especially when I realise that critical mass and numbers are everything.  With 25 million plus users already, Google+ has 'success' scrawled all over it.  Rapid growth.  Mainstream adoption.  A familiar concept.  Integration of other services.  The power of Google harnessed and bulging at the seams.

It's just not doing it for me.

Google+ stop trying to get me to tidy my room into pretty circular piles and behave 'nicely' with my nice little name tag on.

Both the real and online versions of me are kinda irritated right now.

PS  Promise you won't tell anyone my little secret?  'kay?
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