I enjoyed reading (April)

program.reading.outside

Sudden site shutdowns and the perils of living our lives online (John Paul Titlow): When Google decided to shut down Reader and made the announcement a few weeks ago, this really made me think carefully about what I do online, and where I decide to do it. Obviously there’s incredible convenience in having someone else host all your stuff, whether it’s on Facebook, Google+ or any other service. They have beautiful user interfaces (sometimes), great sharing features and they are responsible for maintaining the site. But when they decide to close up shop, for whatever reason, there goes all your data. The more I think about it, the more I want to move my online profiles into my own online space.
Guns want to be free: what happens when 3D printing and crypto-anarchy collide? (Joshua Kopstein):

I approve of any development that makes it more difficult for governments and criminals to monopolise the use of force.

I’m not sure yet if this is a good thing or a bad thing. However, right now, it is a thing that we need to think about. The idea of printing weapons is definitely something that needs discussion, but we should also remember that we’ll be able to print other things too, like furniture, utensils, spare parts for devices, etc. The creative force that this will unleash is going to change society, especially when this technology is widely available. One day, 3D printers will be built into your home and will just be a normal part of your consumer experience (see Neil Stephenson’s The Diamond Age).

 

The Mendeley – Elsevier frenzy: I’m not going to summarise the discussion, just wanted to point out a few posts I found thought-provoking. It is interesting to note that a few weeks after the initial announcement, everything died down and the internet has moved on. I wonder how many of those indignant academics actually deleted their accounts? The links below are the posts that I thought were more considered and less irrational and emotional.

 

Network-enabled research (Cameron Neylon):

Suddenly there is the possibility of coordination, of distribution of tasks that was simply not possible before. The internet simply does this better than any other network we have ever had. It is better for a range of reasons but they key ones are: its immense scale – connecting more people, and now machines than any previous network; its connectivity – the internet is incredibly densely connected, essentially enabling any computer to speak to any other computer globally; its lack of friction – transfer of information is very low cost, essentially zero compared to previous technologies, and is very very easy.

 

Teaching as a subversive activity (Rick Snell): This is not a link to the book itself but a summary of the main concepts. I’ve been wanting to read Teaching as a subversive activity for ages, but still haven’t gotten around to it.

…once you have learned how to ask questions – relevant and appropriate and substantial questions – you have leaned how to learn and no one can keep you from learning whatever you want or need to know.

Why I’ll keep using Mendeley…for now

mendeley logoWell, it finally happened…Mendeley has been acquired by Elsevier. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Mendeley has never been open source (“free” does not equal “open source”), they’ve always been a commercial company and have never suggested that they were anything else. This day was always coming.

I’ll be honest, my immediate reaction was to wonder if I could simply import my data into Zotero and delete my Mendeley account. However, after a few moments I reconsidered that knee jerk reaction and decided to stick it out and see what happens. You see, I don’t use Mendeley because I have some kind of deep seated principles regarding openness in academic publication (I do, but that’s not why I use Mendeley). I use it because it does a great job of helping make my life easier.

I use open source software whenever I can but I also use MS Office when I’m at work, especially for documents with complex formatting. I don’t avoid using Office because it’s owned by Microsoft. I use what works for me and in most cases, open source software Is. Just. Better. In cases where it isn’t, I also use proprietary programmes. Regardless, I always use the tools that help me do my job. For me, Mendeley is just another tool that helps me do my job…only now it has a new owner.

Let me be clear, I’m not a fan of Elsevier and dislike some of the choices they’ve made in the past. However, there’s no reason to think (yet) that anything at Mendeley will change. If anything, the announcement on their blog makes it seem like this investment in the company will spur innovation and allow them to continue growing their offerings. I’m not mesmerised by the extra 1GB of storage space, which comes off as a cheap trick to try and draw attention away from the elephant in the room. I’m more interested in their continued development of their open API, and changes to the software. In particular, if this move allows them to create a usable iPad app, then for that reason alone I’d support it.

Also, according to this blog post from the company, there will always be a free version of Mendeley, there will be no discernible difference in how Mendeley works for the end user, my data is still mine, and it seems as if there will be no attempt to favour Elsevier publications when using Mendeley. Whether you believe this or not is irrelevant because as soon as any of this is no longer true, export your data, stop using the service and move to Zotero.

And even if they do make changes that affect how you use the service, consider the following:

Changes

Social media and professional identity: Part 3 (Mendeley)

Academic social networks: Mendeley
Everyone is familiar with Facebook and many people have heard of Google+ so I’m not going to spend much time reviewing them, other than to say that for me, neither of them is currently a big part of my own professional presence. I use Google+ a lot but in a personal capacity not a professional one. Having said that, I’m exploring the potential of Google+ as a tool for professional development, and will probably post something about my experiences at some point in the future.

In this section I’m going to briefly discuss a few social networks that are geared towards the academic professional, although not necessarily the clinician. If you are a clinician, you may still find these social services useful, but in my experience I’ve found that clinicians are more likely to share content on the more mainstream networks like Facebook and increasingly, on Twitter.


First up is Mendeley, which is primarily a desktop (and iPad and smartphone) client that you can use to manage the research papers that you have in PDF format. It automatically extracts all of the metadata from the paper (i.e. author, title, journal, date of publication) and has some excellent search and sort features. However, one of the best features of Mendeley is its integration with the web, allowing you to sync all of your documents from any of your devices, to all of your other devices. If I highlight and add annotations to a PDF I’m working on at the office, when I get home and sync Mendeley on my home computer, all of those highlights and PDFs are updated to mirror that changes I made at work. If I add a PDF on my home computer, that PDF is then copied to all of my other devices as well. If you’ve ever been working at home and been irritated that the document you need is at work, or lost the flash drive you use to keep all your research papers, then Mendeley is definitely worth having a look at.

 

Mendeley is also great for connecting you to other researchers in your field, via a web interface. You have to create a profile to use the software, and by completing the profile, you make yourself more visible to other people in your network of practice. There’s a Newsfeed that tells you when people you follow have made changes (e.g. uploaded and shared a new paper, made a comment, or joined a group). At the moment, a search on Mendeley for “clinical education” identifies about 80 people who are involved in clinical education research in some way, and almost 37 000 academic papers that include clinical education as keywords. There is an Advanced search feature that allows you to refine it your search to minute detail, including the specific domain of knowledge you’re looking for. Mendeley is one of the fastest-growing research databases, and with the social features that are built in, it’s also very engaging.

 

In the screenshot below, you can see how it’s possible to access the metadata from all of your PDFs via the web interface.

Mendeley is an excellent application and service that I use for organising the research content I already have, as well as for finding new content but in a narrow research field. It works really well for putting you in touch with other researchers who work in similar areas to you, and the Dashboard / Newsfeed view on the web makes it easy to keep up with those you’re following. In addition to desktop and web versions, Mendeley is available in a “Lite” version for the iPad (see below), and the open API makes it easy for developers to create 3rd party apps for Android, for example, Droideley.

Mendeley running on the iPad, showing the “Favourites” view.

Note: Zotero is another free alternative for gathering and curating your research content. I don’t use it much, mainly because it used to be solely integrated into Firefox, which is a good thing – if you use Firefox. Zotero has recently released a standalone client which is independent of the browser.

In Part 4 of this series on the use of social media for professional development I’ll be presenting some of the features of ResearchGate, another social network geared towards academics.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-03-12

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-11-21

  • Papert: “…the practice of segregating children by age into “grades” will be seen as…old-fashioned, and inhumane” http://t.co/pvXVRayG #
  • Great way to learn physics http://t.co/oNRel2Qm #
  • Scientists invent lightest material on Earth. What now? http://t.co/i1BF632n via @zite #
  • The Top 10+1 apps in the Mendeley-PLoS Binary Battle! http://t.co/oVT6cva8 via @zite #
  • Dave Cormier: Explaining Rhizomatic Learning to my five year old. http://t.co/R7Pjrdez via @zite #
  • Microsoft’s table-sized tablet Surfaces for pre-order http://t.co/UDCeAq7D via @zite? Cool health-related concept image at the end #
  • @mendeley_com I love the ipad app but hate that I can’t annotate / highlight text. Any plans for that functionality in the lite version? #
  • How odd that #Mendeley isn’t @mendeley. Made an assumption earlier today with a tweet (embarrassed face) #
  • The really basic skill today is the skill of learning http://t.co/yzfBZHcx #
  • @mendeley I love the ipad app but hate that I can’t annotate / highlight text. Any plans for that functionality in the lite version? #
  • ECAR National Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2011 Report | EDUCAUSE http://t.co/luaja5Pl #
  • Just published the 2nd round of my survey on clinical education. If you teach healthcare students, please respond at http://t.co/mIm3l9H8 #
  • @whataboutrob Could probably make that work 🙂 #

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-08-01

  • Cities Are Immortal; Companies Die http://bit.ly/pEWOmx. Masie briefly mentioned this Kelly article (I think)  in his great presentation at #cityafrica # (link updated after the fact)
  • Historic medical manuscripts go online http://ow.ly/1v9v0b #
  • Omniscient Mobile Computing: What if Your Apps Knew Everything About Where You Are? http://ow.ly/1v9tkE. Reminded of Masie at #cityafrica #
  • Is RT a form of legitimate peripheral participation? Attended #tedxstellenbosch yesterday & did a lot of RT, wondering “did I padticipate”? #
  • @Sharoncolback not sure if it’s so simple, see @jeffjarvis who is very public re. personal stuff & who inspires many in similar situations #
  • Am I addicted to the internet? Maybe, but so what? http://ow.ly/1v8Cd0 #
  • Before iPhone war, Samsung sells 5M GS2′s in 85 days http://ow.ly/1v8BPZ. Got my samsung galaxy S2 last week and loving it so far #
  • Are there some things that shouldn’t be tweeted about? http://ow.ly/1v8BDT #
  • Feds Will Pay Doctors For Using Medical Records iPad App http://ow.ly/1v8AYl #
  • Electronic medical records get a boost from iPad, federal funding http://ow.ly/1v8AH5 #
  • The current impact agenda could consider the impact of inspirational teaching, not just research http://ow.ly/1v8An8 #
  • Mendeley 1.0 is here! http://ow.ly/1v8y0T #
  • Learning spaces haven’t changed much since structured education emerged centuries ago. #cityafrica providing inspiration for change #
  • @wesleylynch venue is packed, hard to find 5 seats next to each other, realm team always inviting 🙂 #
  • @wesleylynch re-designing cities to be integrated spaces for working, learning and living #
  • @wesleylynch not sitting with #realm team, but chatted a bit #
  • @hotdogcop “quality teaching” isn’t going to happen without policy change that affect salaries and other factors related to job satisfaction #
  • @hotdogcop interest groups aren’t confined to academia though…some academics seek radical change, institutional structure makes it hard #
  • @hotdogcop “academic” doesn’t have to mean “top-down” or “policy maker” #
  • @hotdogcop agreed, but we train the people who will be called on to implement change #
  • @hotdogcop Mokena has some great ideas re. the city & education. would be interesting have him talk to our academics #
  • RT @TEDxStellenbsch: The future city already exists <- no, the technology exists, it’ll take a few years to implement #cityafrica #
  • Mokena Makena the best speaker so far at #tedxstellenbosch #CityAfrica #
  • Classrooms are not inspiring #cityafrica #
  • How could learning spaces change if city / community / nature were more fully integrated? #cityafrica #
  • How would the world look if cities were planned to integrate nature? #cityafrica #
  • Cities and nature don’t have to be mutually exclusive #cityafrica #
  • @vivboz hi vivienne, I’m not sure what writing group you mean? #
  • If the world can’t see or hear you, are u relevant? Do gangs and violence allow young people to be feared, if not seen & heard? #cityafrica #
  • How do our living and working spaces change the way we think and what does that mean for how we live? #cityafrica #
  • At #tedxstellenbosch trying to better understand the relationship between city and community #cityafrica #
  • Using social media: practical and ethical guidance for doctors and medical students – The British Medical Association http://bit.ly/nHBIyj #
  • Sites for the QR-enabled Tourist http://bit.ly/qcMuan #

Mendeley and Dropbox

 

 

A little while ago I finally hit the 500 MB free storage limit of Mendeley, which isn’t surprising considering how I go about collecting research papers. Whenever I come across an article that looks like it might be mildly interesting / vaguely related to my work I copy it into a folder that Mendeley watches and that’s it. I have hundreds of papers that I’ve never looked at (and possibly never will). When I’m working on a project or article, I simply type the relevant keywords into Mendeley and it shows me all the papers I that might be useful to me. I know that this probably isn’t the best way to go about it (e.g. what about the serendipitous papers that I’d never find because I’m not actually looking for them i.e. relevance that I don’t know about?).

Anyway, when I hit the limit I thought I was finally going to have to do some tidying of my folder, until I realised that I could use Dropbox to store the PDFs and just tell Mendeley to watch that folder in Dropbox instead. Dropbox does a better job of keeping my articles synced across all of my devices (I don’t think Mendeley was designed to keep papers synced across multiple computers) and I can use Dropbox on my Android phone (Mendeley is still only available on the iPhone).

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-07-04

  • U.N. Report Declares Internet Access a Human Right | Threat Level | Wired.com http://bit.ly/ivNke2 #
  • #saahe2011 officially over. It was a wonderful conference made possible by the participation of health educators from all over the country #
  • Papert http://bit.ly/mggi6R. Being a revolutionary means seeing far enough ahead to know that there is going to be a fundamental change #
  • Papert http://bit.ly/le70h7. The impact of paper in education has led to the exclusion of those who don’t think in certain ways #
  • @dkeats When people are “experts” in a domain they can be blinded to great ideas in other fields and so miss opportunities to drive change #
  • @dkeats Agreed. I’ve had to work really hard to convince people in my dept that I’m not the “computer guy”, I’m the “education guy” #
  • Innovation is about linking concepts from different fields to solve problems, its not about doing the same thing with more efficiency #
  • “How do you learn enough of the words to make sense of the discipline?” #saahe2011 #
  • Presentation by David Taylor on the use of adult learning theories #saahe2011 #
  • Jack Boulet speaking about the challenges and opportunities in simulation-based assessment #saahe2011 #
  • Mendeley Desktop 1.0 Development Preview Released http://ow.ly/1ueXSs #
  • Social media is inherently a system of peer evaluation and is changing the way scholars disseminate their research http://ow.ly/1ueXMA #
  • @dkeats Wonder if the problem has to do with the fact that much “ed tech” is designed by Comp Scientists, rather than Social Sci? #
  • @dkeats Also, people have the idea that LMSs have something to do with T&L, & then struggle when it can’t do what they need it to #
  • @dkeats To qualify, the problem isn’t resistance, its misunderstanding. The conversation always ends up being about technology #
  • There’s a huge difference between “learning” & “studying”, not in terms of the process but ito motivation & objectives #
  • @thesiswhisperer conf is for health educators, mostly clinicians, many of whom are amazing teachers but for whom tech is misunderstood #
  • In a workshop with David Taylor, looking at using adult learning theories #saahe2011 #
  • Blackboard is a course management system, it has little to do with learning. Use it for what its designed for #saahe2011 #
  • Trying to change perception that technology-mediated teaching & learning isn’t about technology. Not going well #saahe2011 #
  • Just gave my presentation on the use of social networks to facilitate clinical & ethical reasoning in practice contexts #saahe2011 #
  • Deborah Murdoch Eaton talks about the role of entrepreneurship to innovate in health education #saahe2011 #
  • Social accountability is relevant for all health professions (healthsocialaccountability.org) #saahe2011 #
  • Charles Boelen talks about social accountability at #saahe2011 keynote, discusses its role in meeting society’s health needs #
  • First day of #saahe2011 over. Lots of interesting discussion and some good research being done in health science education #
  • Concept mapping workshop turned out OK. Got a CD with loads of useful information…a first for any workshop I’ve attended #saahe2011 #
  • Many people still miss the point when it comes to technology-mediated teaching & learning. Your notes on an LMS is not teaching or learning #
  • At a workshop on concept mapping, lots of content being delivered to me, not much practical yet #saahe2011 #
  • Noticed a trend of decreasing satisfaction from 1-4 year, even though overall scores were +. Implications for teaching? #saahe2011 #
  • Banjamin van Nugteren: do medical students’ perceptions of their educational environment predict academic performance? #saahe2011 #
  • Selective assignment as an applied education & research tool -> gain research exp, improve knowledge & groupwork #saahe2011 #
  • Reflective journaling: “as we write conscious thoughts, useful associations & new ideas begin to emerge” #saahe2011 #
  • Change paradigm from “just-in-case” learning to “just-in-time” learning #saahe2011 #
  • Benefits of EBP are enhanced when principles are modelled by clinicians #saahe2011 #
  • EBP less effective when taught as a discrete module. Integration with clinical practice shows improvements across all components #saahe2011 #
  • Students have difficulty conducting appraisals of online sources <- an enormous challenge when much content is accessed online #saahe2011 #
  • Looking around venue at #saahe2011 10 open laptops, 2 visible iPads (lying on desk, not being used), about 350 participants…disappointing #
  • EBP isn’t a recipe (or a religion), although that is a common misconception #saahe2011 #
  • Prof. Robin Watts discusses EBP and facilitating student learning. EBP isn’t synonymous with research #saahe2011 #
  • “A lecture without a story is like an operation without an anaesthetic” Athol Kent, #saahe2001 #
  • Kent drawing heavily on Freni et al, 2010, Health professionals for a new century, Lancet. #
  • #saahe2001 has begun. Prof. Athol Kent: the future of health science education #
  • Portfolios and Competency http://bit.ly/jfFpfU. Really interesting comments section. Poorly implemented portfolios aren’t worth much #
  • @amcunningham I think that portfolios can demonstrate competence and be assessed but it needs a change in mindset to evaluate them #
  • @amcunningham will comment on the post when I’m off the road #
  • @amcunningham Can’t b objective as I haven’t used NHS eportfolio. Also, its hard 2 structure what should be personally meaningful experience #
  • @amcunningham Portfolios must include reflection, not just documentation. Reflection = relating past experience to future performance #
  • @amcunningham Your delusion question in the link: practitioners / students not shown how to develop a portfolio with objectives #
  • @amcunningham Also spoke a lot about competency-based education and strengths / limitations compared to apprentice-based model #
  • @amcunningham Very much. Just finished a 4 day workshop that included the use of portfolios as reflective tools in developing competence #
  • Final day of #safri 2011 finished. Busy with a few evaluations now. Spent some time developing the next phase of my project. Tired… #
  • Last day of #safri today, short session this morning, then leaving for #saahe2011 conference in Potchefstroom. It’s been an intense 5 days #
  • Papert: Calling yourself some1 who uses computers in education will be as ridiculous as calling yourself some1 who uses pencils in education #
  • Daily Papert http://bit.ly/jKlVmn. 10 years ago, Papert warned against the “computers in education” specialist. How have we responded? #
  • Daily Papert http://bit.ly/m7rfYY. Defining yourself as someone who uses computers in education, is to subordinate yourself #
  • YouTube – Augmented Reality Brain http://bit.ly/kcZWXy. When this is common in health education, things are going to get crazy #
  • @rochellesa Everyone needs some downtime, especially at 10 at night when you’re out with your wife 🙂 Seems like a nice guy, very quiet #
  • @rochellesa The large policeman he’s with isn’t keen tho. Mr Nzimande has asked 2 not b disturbed. Understandable when u want to chill out #
  • I’m sitting in a hotel in Jo’burg & Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande walks in and sits down next to me. Any1 have any questions? #

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-06-27

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-06-20