#Advent #SugSnips

https://i1.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8201/8162101242_dae954feae.jpgSome readers may remember the series of #SugSnip tweets I posted to Twitter every day of 2011.

I’d started these postings on 1st January 2011 (see my 1st #SugSnip blog post) and they culminated in a publication on ISSUU. The publication had a foreword by James Clay and this year, I am taking a leaf from his book (so to speak) and copying his idea of daily  posts throughout #Advent. In my case I’ll run right through the month.

 – See James’ 2011 musical advent calendar.
– Also watch
his 2012 cinematic calendar as it unfolds this year.

Please read on (beneath the ISSUU book) to learn more about my series of #Advent #SugSnips 



My thanks once again to http://cpwilson.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/embedding-issuu/


I’ve toyed with the idea of delivering #SugSnips again for quite a while as I’ve missed the research involved, it’s been a sort of hobby for me. However, I wanted to present the information in a different way. My first thought was to create a Google Presentation and to post the link to one slide per day. However, this turned out not to be as easy as I’d first thought. Although each slide had a different link the whole presentation was viewable – so not much use for a daily ‘reveal’.

Each of this month’s #Advent #SugSnips has therefore been created as a separate presentation. I had to use Google Chrome to be able to capture each presentation URL (rather than the ‘edit’ URL) but this seems to work OK. You tell me?

I’m also using bit.ly again to create the shortened URLs of this link, reducing it from 114 characters to just 13!

Also like before, because it was the most reliable during 2011, I’m using HootSuite to schedule my Tweets. This time I am also copying the daily posting to Facebook.

Creating the presentations hasn’t been straightforward, but I’ll log that journey later this month. Suffice to say I won’t be recommending the method I’ve used for easy distribution.

I hope you enjoy reading these #SugSnips. I will publish the entire 31 slides as a single presentation in January, along with the bitly bundle. Enjoy.

Advertisements

Assistive Technology

I’ve just returned from delivering three 90 minutes sessions on Assistive Technology.

Despite its importance for many learners, I’ve always been surprised by the lengths that some teaching staff will go to, to avoid Assistive Technology training sessions. However, two of the three sessions I delivered today were well oversubscribed with almost 30 in each; the third had a credible dozen in attendance.

So well done Abingdon Witney College, you made my day.

I’d been invited to attend the college’s staff training day by the delightful Ellen Lessner. It was my first visit to Abingdon (hopefully not my last) and although marred by a few technical problems, it was a great day. I had hoped to start off by showing the SimDis website and then allowing those attending some time to explore the simulations on offer. However, the shockwave plugin could not be updated by anyone without ‘admin’ rights, so staff were unable to explore the site. The techie people told me that there was some hold up or other with their request to Adobe. Hey ho.

So, instead we explored http://wordle.net (see previous post – https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2011/07/12/wordle/), which many thought they would find useful. Then Victoria, a talented member of staff, showed Inspiration (http://www.inspiration.com/) to each group and allowed them chance to explore its basic possibilities.

Then finally, I introduced MyStudyBar.

Ellen had always wanted her colleagues to explore the potential for this collection of FREE software, but had never been able to make it work in the college until Windows 7 was installed. Despite the numbers, we only had 8 USB sticks as the 8 I’d brought with me were quickly quarantined by the very keen virus protection software (it didn’t just quarantine the file – it deleted it!). Anyway, we still managed to explore MyStudyBar’s potential in groups of three or four.

It was disappointing not to be able to experience the delights of the TechDis Voices, which have been downloaded but not yet deployed. These two new voices are better for most learners than Microsoft Anna and as MyStudyBar provides two text-to-speech software items, they would have been given every chance of an airing. Hopefully, learners will shortly have an opportunity to experience the new voices if they are deployed sooner rather than later.

I think that everyone enjoyed most of their session and suspect that each person took at least one thing away with them for further exploration or immediate use.

Thank you to everyone at Abingdon Witney College for your interest in the sessions and to Ellen for her kind and generous hospitality.

Who checks the checkers?

Once again this week, I’ve heard of F.E. teachers receiving less than good lesson observation reports, because of their improper use of technology. Tut tut!

Apparently, each of the teachers in question hadn’t used the interactive white board (IWB) that was installed in their classroom. For goodness sake!

Why is it that lesson observers think they have to point out defects in the use of technology, when they patently haven’t a clue what they are talking about. If they HAD half a clue what they were talking about, they might first ask ‘is there a reason why you did not employ use of the IWB?’ and anything short of ‘I didn’t see it there’ might be considered a fair enough answer. Why would you use an IWB to teach PowerPoint, or how to fillet fish? Why?

I know a teacher whose use of ILT once got marked as less than satisfactory when in fact she had half the class working on PhotoStory3 presentations and the other half preparing blogs. It was the lesson observer who needed a kick up the arse, not the teacher in question.

I’ve always said that ILT, information LEARNING technology should be exactly what it says – IT (information technology) that surrounds and supports LEARNING. It should not be used simply because it’s there. Where the use of technology is planned and applied appropriately, it can enhance the learning process; even ad hoc use if applied appropriately can have the same result. But the use of technology for technology’s sake is evil and should be wiped out.

Who checks the lesson observer’s ILT competence? Who checks the checkers?

ISSUU – SugSnips

Some readers will remember my previous SugSnip posts.

Well, I have now published all of the 400 #SugSnip ‘tweets’ in book form on ISSUU, the digital publishing platform.

I’d originally tried to author the book via the Amazon Kindle website, but to no avail. The instructions seemed clear enough but as it turns out, were too demanding for the technology I had to present. Most of the content consists of tweets, with a link to a collection (a collation really) of other links supporting and expanding the #SugSnip link. I just couldn’t see how this would work on a Kindle book (and it didn’t).

So I set it aside and got on with my life.

Just the other day though, I got an email from ISSUU reminding me of their presence and, given a two hour drive from Nottingham this week, I got to thinking about how the book would look and feel on ISSUU. Well, it looks ok and as a bonus, all of the #SugSnip links work.

For example: Tweet 195 on page 35, about Levi Jackets, still has the Bitly bundle https://bitly.com/bundles/dsugden/R available for viewers to read.

Please let me know what you think.

Other info from http://cpwilson.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/embedding-issuu/ – with thanks.

TechDis Ambassadors

Ever since the first meting in August, I’ve been working with some delightful colleagues on the planning of a new initiative being undertaken jointly by the JISC TechDis and the JISC RSC SE.

The intention is to create and develop a community of TechDis Ambassadors in the south east of England. The TechDis Ambassadors can be students or staff.

In the first instance, interested parties have been asked to fill in a short form by 12th October and to then attend a face to face meeting at Guildford College, on 8th November. Invitations are offered to all areas of post 16 education [the further education sector] based in the JISC RSC-SE region.

The aim is to promote and celebrate the use of technologies that help the learning process, especially for those who experience difficulties with their learning. Our meeting on 8th November will explore ways in which this can be done and begin the project planning process.

A Facebook group has also been set up for TechDis Ambassadors and the hope is that this will form the basis of an ongoing, collaborative community. Anyone with tips or tricks that promote and celebrate the use of accessible interventions is welcome to join. Or, you can follow the TechDis Ambassadors on Twitter.

Trolly Dolly

Over the last few weeks I have been attending a series of JISC Advance Regional Support Centre (RSC) summer fairs on behalf of TechDis. Many readers will know that TechDis are one of JISC Advance’s advisory services promoting:

‘… inclusive practices, resources and advice for learning and teaching in UK higher education, further education & skills, and independent and specialist colleges’. From http://www.jisctechdis.ac.uk/ [downloaded 4th July 2012]

My most recent (final) two roles were in London at the RSC London ‘eFactor2012’ event, which took place in the magnificent Senate House, close to Russell Square and at Hartlepool College’s superb new build for RSC Northern. I wasn’t at my best for the London event having contracted a mild dose of man-flu earlier in the week.

However, I did manage to rustle up enough voice to talk with the many visitors to my stand.

I was there primarily to promote the newly launched ‘TechDis Voices’ and ‘TechDis Toolbox’.

As before in Glasgow, Leeds and Taunton there was great interest in both products but what was interesting here in London was the fact that the range of attendees seemed to more widely cover the F.E. and Skills sector. There was equal interest from college teachers (not just the techie types, but real teachers) to ACL and WBL representatives. Many of those I spoke to here were not aware of the potential for text-to-speech or of the free tools which might allow it to happen. ACL (adult and community learning) tutors were even more excited by the range and simplicity of Toolbox, which will hopefully help their learners to better overcome and fears of technology.

Sadly, my trip to Hartlepool was a little less successful due to the leaflets and banner being sent to the wrong address by couriers. It’s surprising how much these colourful artifacts do attract people to the stand. With just a laptop, a white tablecloth and two hastily created A4 notices, it was hard to attract attention of anyone. Some folks who had been involved in development did stop by and chat but very few others.

Did you know that folks around here are called monkey hangers?

Please see the previous two posts concerning my visits:

https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2012/06/12/jess-and-jack/

https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/toolbox/

… and the post by Rosemary Leadley, from which the video above is kindly loaned.

http://jiscrsclondon.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/jisc-techdis-introduce-jess-and-jack-at-e-factor-2012/

Maslow v Internet

I’ve just returned from a short break in Spain and for five of the six days that I was away from home I was without Internet access. Many of you might think that that was a relaxing situation to be in, but I can assure you that for me, it wasn’t.

It’s surprising how much you (I) can miss the Internet.

Earlier this year, Sharon and I bought a 10% share in a one bedroom apartment on the Costa Del Sol – it didn’t cost too much and we get to visit almost as much as we like, which probably won’t be more than once a year. We wanted something (somewhere) that would almost certainly be warmer than it is here at any given time. I realised that the need for warmth is a basic need and can be found supporting all of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs.

That started me thinking …

Without me realising, the Internet has become something that fulfills my Belongingness and Love (social) needs, as well as my Esteem needs; both of which Maslow recognises as higher requirements en route to self-actualisation. Only whilst eating our lunch in a pub in Gibraltar – where WiFi was available, were we able to check emails, Twitter and Facebook. In our apartment complex and in all of the cafe’s and restaurants we visited in Spain, we were not!

How then were we able to:
a) check when and who Spain were playing in the European cup (and thus avoid the crowds in certain bars)?
b)
check emails (after all I’m still self-employed and need to reply as quickly and as often as required to correspondences)?
c) check Twitter and Facebook to keep up with family and friends?
d)
provide the answer to simple arguments (where DO you find out the name of such and such an actor)?

I do all of that without thinking at home on my iPhone, my iPad, my laptop etc. when I’m out and about I have WiFi ‘cloud’ access, 3’s MiFi access and a variety of other logins that permit me to access the Internet freely and easily – so when it’s not available, it comes as a shock.

Not having access to the Internet ‘on tap’ really did come as a surprise.

Now we’re home, I managed to catch up a little on Sunday but then on Monday BT seemed to be having a problem in our area, as we have had no Internet and no landline for two days! I’ve no idea why or what’s happening so it’s lucky that I still have some data left on my MiFi this month but with guests staying with us – all of whom are Internet-savvy, who knows how long that will last!

Footnote

The apartment complex committee’s chairman has agreed that we can boost our signal in the apartment (!) with the installation of a box that sounds like it will give limited ethernet access to laptops – but which will still not give WiFi access to the variety of other devices we have become used to using. They only have a 3gig connection for around 200 apartments!

Previous notes on Maslow

Maslow:

I’m quite interested in the way we might revisit Maslow, with an eye on the social and economic changes that are happening around us. I think there’s a real need now to recognise how the (especially) lower levels of Maslow’s hierarchy are changing. Young learners now have technological needs that the original paper preceded. As Dan Bevarly (@dbevarly) says: “You can’t engage if you can’t connect”. I am working on this, but as with everything else (and work etc), it’s a slow process.

From my 2009 post: https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2010/02/21/experiential-learning/