#sugsnip – 200 days – the story so far

I’ve just scheduled the 200th consecutive day of #sugsnips (due to be published on Tuesday 19th July). Here’s a special foretaste for readers of my blog:

#SugSnip The 1967 Welsh Language Act required another Act (1993) to put the language on equal footing with English http://bitly.com/kAspeR

I last wrote about #sugsnips back in April, http://bit.ly/q9HgAD after I’d made the 91st daily posting to Twitter. Since then, I’ve passed the half way point (day 182), at which time I’d made over 200 individual postings – one per day PLUS bonus #sugsnips made especially during ‘named’ or ‘special’ weeks.

#SugSnip That’s 26 weeks done. 6 months. 200 specially researched tweets. Just half way! Thank you all for the RTs and the Papers 😉 BONUS Via Hootsuite

I posted my raison d’être back in January http://bit.ly/pfP9wI. Essentially, this was to create a daily Tweet, which contained some snippet of researched and verified information that could/would be of use or interest to anyone reading it.

Limited as we are by Twitter’s 140-character set-up, the initial challenge was to condense essential information into the Tweet along with relevant links. Research eventually led me to find Fur.ly, which not only shortens links but bundles them together: http://bit.ly/pF8Jzy. Further research led me to Bit.ly, which not only bundled but allowed short descriptions of the individual links contained – these could be used for instruction to readers (learners?) http://bit.ly/q1Ot7m. I still use Bit.ly because of its power. I don’t necessarily use it to its full extent in this exercise, but have done so with other, paid, work.

It’s worth noting here that Xtensis, who have hosted the NLN Materials for many years now, are working on a powerful URL aggregator that has all the potential to knock Bit.ly out of the water. http://www.xtlearn.com – why not register and play? Let Rod and Robin know what you think.

I’ve also tested several Tweet Schedulers during my first 200 days. http://www.twuffer.com has a nice interface and for a while was my first choice – but it missed the odd tweet, meaning that I had to ensure I read my Tweets every day just to check. Ditto: http://www.futuretweets.com – not reliable. I have eventually settled on http://www.hootsuite.com to schedule my #sugnsips. Hootsuite has not (yet?) let me down and presents me with a nice interface for creating and viewing my ‘pending’ Tweets.

#sugsnip readers have been very kind and many have been re-tweeted (RTd) or re-published in one of several http://paper.li/s, especially during ‘special’ weeks. Already researched and ready to go (I have to have a minimum of 50-60 ready for ease of mind) is a ‘Coats’ week (probably over summer!) and a ‘Materials’ week (probably mid September). I’m working on a ‘Wine‘ week too. Each is designed to show how teachers might bundle such short, sharp bits of information for learners to access. 🙂

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bit.ly – a better LMS?

Some readers may have followed my exploration of facilities offered by http://fur.ly and how it might be used as a learning management system (LMS). At the end of my most recent post, (see 3, below) I said ‘watch this space’, as I intended to explore another service – http://bit.ly.

I have now had the chance to delve into bit.ly and explore what turns out to be its greater potential for use as an ad hoc LMS.

First of all, to get the most from bit.ly, you need to register. It does work as a URL shortener without registration, but to use it to its full potential (which I don’t think I have yet fully tapped), you do need to register. It’s a painless process.

When you have logged in, you will see that over time, the URLs that you have reduced in length are all logged in your ‘area’. If, as I have done today, you wish to bundle some links together you can do this. Simply click on the offer to bundle your most recent links. You then have the opportunity to add/delete links as required and to rearrange them. Where http://bit.ly has the edge over fur.ly, is the way it allows the LMS designer to add an introduction (instructions) and allows the end user to comment/collaborate on the outcomes. This looks like it might be a powerful feature but I haven’t explored it. Please let me know if you do explore it.

There is also an analytics section which I have not explored either, but which may in time come into its own. If you have a play with it, do please let me know how you get on.

Have a look at my David Lloyd George ‘lesson’: http://bit.ly/f4RX56

Interested users will see that I have once again added a Google Form to gain feedback – you could use this as a formative test at the end of the web site sequence.

Please do let me know what you think.

Related posts:

1) https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/fur-ly/

2) https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/the-power-of-fur-ly-part-one/

3) https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2011/04/12/the-power-of-fur-ly-%E2%80%93-part-two-lms/

The power of fur.ly – part two: LMS

Screen shot of EduVel blogAs I suggested in my previous post, fur.ly could be used for so much more than shortening URLs or even (as I have been doing within my #sugsnips) aggregating URLs. For instance, here is an example of it being used as a learning management system – LMS.

http://fur.ly/5hzo. [Please try this and let me know what you think]

All it cost me was a little time – everything else was free. [Late News – bit.ly can also do this. See end of post]

Obviously, anyone following the learning episode above will find huge pedagogical holes in what I have slung together, but that is all I did: I just slung a learning journey together from a few web sites I knew of and hoped that users/readers would ‘get’ the point of the exercise.

My biggest challenge was deciding upon a site that would allow me to have simple pages that linked the learning journey together, for this I chose http://shrib.com. Shrib has the advantage of (similar to all of the Etherpad clones) having an editable URL. Anyone following the route will notice that I’ve used bloom1, bloom2 and bloom3 as my ‘tail’. The downside (for now) is that these are probably editable by anyone – so just how I would overcome that remains to be seen – but for now it’s ok – it works.

I’ve used Shrib to provide online pages, which explain how to use the fur.ly page for going backwards and forwards through the web sites presented and what to do at each stage.

My preparation includes locating the web sites I wanted to use and the order in which I wanted to present them. I then created the intervening Shrib pages to separate the websites and finally – having decided what the user would need to look for on those pages, I created an end-test using Google Forms. In real life I might have asked the user to give me their name and email address, so that I could give them feedback but for the purposes of this demonstration the end test restricts itself to 2 simple questions and a comment box.

So, is this really a form of impromptu learning management system (LMS)? I think it is. I think it will suit those who are working outside of institutions (maybe WBL, ACL, Voluntary etc.) as a means of guiding learners. I’ve tried the resulting journey on my iPhone and it seems to work very well, opening each page as required and allowing me to contribute to the Google Form.

I’d love to know what you think. Please comment below or DM on Twitter.

LATE NEWS

Part of my investigation has allowed me to delve further into bit.ly http://bit.ly the URL shortener mentioned in my previous post. This may have great potential than fur.ly as it can bundle URLs too. It also presented the URLs in a friendlier way than fur.ly.  Watch this space.

The power of fur.ly – part one

Screen shot of EduVel blog

Since starting my #sugsnip challenge back in the New Year, I’ve had many opportunities to ask (some) readers what they thought. They think it’s a good idea and many have taken the opportunity to comment, either directly to me, via Twitter or via their own RTs and Paper.li’s. This has been encouraging. What has been less encouraging though, has been their (slight) misunderstanding of the role fur.ly plays in my #sugsnip, or of the huge potential fur.ly offers many educationalists and learners.

I have a few ideas for how the service can be used and will use this blog post and the next to explain a couple of these.

First let me explain fur.ly’s basic functionality, because that is one thing my discussions with #sugsnip readers have led me to believe is underestimated at best.

Also see my previous post: https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/fur-ly/

Services such as http://bit.ly, http://tinyurl.com, and http://snipurl.com offer URL shortening services where long URLs are greatly reduced in length (e.g. my previous EduVel blog post would reduce from https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/response-to-kathy-schrock/ to http://bit.ly/hdIBe1; http://tinyurl.com/6c8dddh and http://snipurl.com/27rqug respectively. A saving of 45, 39 and 40 characters – which is important when we consider the increasing use of micro-blogs such as Twitter, which are often character-limited (Twitter has a maximum 140 characters, so a saving of this size is a huge benefit).

So the first advantage of fur.ly then is URL length – as it returns a URL length of 18 characters, a saving of 47 over the original. The second and for now, most powerful advantage is that it can hold more than one web address within the URL it presents. It is a URL aggregator.

However, this can cause problems for users/readers, as it is not always obvious that there is more than one web page tucked away inside it. The following URL holds three of my Web presences: http://fur.ly/5hyw

screenshot of the fur.ly top bar

Fur.ly presents one of the packaged URLs for you straight away. This leads the user/reader to (often) assume that this is the only page hidden behind the shortened URL – because that is what they are used to. However if you look closely at the top of the page you will see that this is in fact only one of .. (in this case three) pages:

screenshot of advance button on fur.ly top bar

Notice the arrow is pointing to the area that indicates which page (of how many) you are on.

For me and my #sugsnips this has a double advantage as not only do I save 47 characters (x 2, because that’s how many URLs I’ve said I will post to ‘prove’ the #sugsnip) but I also get to add extra justificational URLs to my Tweet. So – please, if you are are exploring my #sugsnip Tweets, do explore the forward arrows to see other sources of justification 🙂

Now all of this has led me to explore other potential uses for Fur.ly and I will detail those on my next blog post.

fur.ly

I came across fur.ly today.

What a difference it will make to my #sugsnip series of Twitter postings. For more about #sugsnip please see my original post and last week’s review.

Fur.ly is a URL shortener!

It works in much the same way that bit.ly and snipurl (and many others) take long internet addresses (URLs = Uniform Resource Locators) and shrink them down to a more memorable size. (e.g. the address of last weeks #sugsnip posting reduces down to http://bit.ly/sugsnip and http://snipurl.com/25ph3l)

Fur.ly however, goes a stage further and can hold several links in one shortened URL.

For my #sugsnip series, this will be (eventually) a great boon. I say eventually because I already have quite a few set up with the Tweet-schedulers I mentioned in my previous post and a few more stored ready to go. The point of #sugsnip is to model the use of micro-blogging tools as a means of knowledge delivery – short, sharp bits of information that have all been double checked for accuracy.

The double-checking means that most #sugsnips carry two shortened URLs (usually by bit.ly) that direct the reader to two different web sites (there may well have been more) supporting the information supplied. Quite often I have to visit several sites, especially if one of my sources has been wikipedia, as many websites seem to just copy from there. I DO try to find corroborative evidence before posting.

However, the use of two URLs does take up valuable characters that could be used to introduce the subject in question. Using fur.ly will allow me to not only put my usual two URLs inside the one link, but others too – if I feel it to be useful.

Many thanks for the supportive comments I received after last week’s post – especially to Lisa who commented on the post itself. 🙂