Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-03-21

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-08-23

  • Cheating in online learning. Balanced viewpoint from Tony Bates #
  • Went back 2 Thunderbird after using Kmail for a few years. Really impressed with how it’s developed, I’m actually enjoying managing my email #
  • RT @alastairotter: How the Internet is changing language #
  • @nlafferty Used 2 use Zotero until I tried Mendeley, which supported PDF import at the time. I’d love 2 try it again, but no chromium plugin in reply to nlafferty #
  • Sadly, it looks like there’s no intention to port Zotero to #chromium & I’m not switching browsers just to get it #
  • Zotero Basics: Getting Stuff Into Zotero I’m always intrigued with Zotero, I just can’t get into using it #
  • Some simple points of advice on professional online behaviour for health professionals, from @rachaellowe #
  • Teaching Professor: Thinking constructively about teaching problems #
  • Beautiful drawings / paintings on the iPad. So much for the notion that it’s not a device for creation #
  • Technology for 21st Century Learning: Part 2 (But is it a Literacy Machine?). Using the iPad in education #
  • @paulscott56 “Major design flaw upsets millions”. Could be a story about Facebook or twifficiency #
  • 17-Year Old Twitter Spammer Scores Facebook CEO as New Friend #
  • 08/9/10 PHD comic: ‘The Repulsor Field Explained’ (humour) #
  • Dissertation Myth # 9: It Will Ruin Your Life. Great points to put your research into perspective #
  • RT @jamescun: OK. Twifficiency shouldn’t tweet your score automatically :/ Error on my behalf, I was just learning to use oAuth 🙁 #
  • RT @allankent: you know what would be awesome? If #twifficiency prompted me before sticking crap in my timeline. #fail #
  • @cristinacost I spent some time in Hay-on-Wye when I was in the UK a few years ago. Really beautiful walks in & around town in reply to cristinacost #
  • Sadly, Twifficiency is a trending topic on the home page, we can probably count on a lot more spam coming through 🙁 #
  • I don’t think I’ve ever seen an app (#Twifficiency in this case) generate so much bad feeling in such a short space of time #
  • RT @andrewspong: Deleted the Twifficiency tweet from my feed in case others see it later, & amplify the spam. You may wish to do the same. #
  • RT @cwcrawley: So all of you who did twiffiency – Go into profile & ‘revoke’ access to the app. That’ll stop it spamming in future #security #
  • Facebook, By the Numbers. Interesting infographic looking at the rise of Facebook over the past few years #
  • I *hate* it when services / applications tweet on my behalf without asking me, as was the case a minute ago with #Twifficiency #
  • My Twifficiency score is 43%. Whats yours? #
  • RT @wesleylynch:RT @shapshak: Africa’s tech start-ups break ground: iSigned (@garethochse) & Cognition (@patrickkayton) #
  • Looking 4 Buddypress-Activity-stream-type threaded conversation tool. Must be hosted & not need registration. Suggestions? #
  • RT @sharingnicely: RT @myzt: The main idea of “Inception”: if you run a VM inside a VM inside a VM inside a VM, everything will be very slow #
  • @weblearning Just had a look now, thanks. Not sure if it “fits”. I already follow everyone I email. More likely to “find” people elsewhere in reply to weblearning #
  • @weblearning Installed #Rapportive a while ago & it has yet 2 return any info behind the email…maybe that says more about who emails me 🙂 in reply to weblearning #

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-07-26

Facilitating Communities of Practice in the Network Era

Two days ago I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to attend a workshop at UCT facilitated by Nancy White (1), who co-wrote Digital habitats: stewarding technology for communities (2) with Etienne Wenger and John David Smith. Presentation slides from the workshop can be downloaded / viewed here. Unfortunately, I could only stay for the morning session, so my notes are  incomplete and they may be incorrect. If you attended the workshop and would like to extend these notes, please add your comments below.

The workshop started with the Human Spectrogram, “a group face to face exercise to help surface similarities and differences in a group, help people to get to know each other and to do something together that is active. Other knowledge sharing toolkits can be found here.
Communities collectively accept responsibility for the behaviour of others in the community
Community is about purpose and specifically, shared purpose
Reciprocity is very important in communities, although not necessarily with the same person who shared with you
Leading / facilitating CoP will often require improvisation / innovation
“Community indicator = sign of life: asking questions / showing something that delves deeper into what the community is or wants to be. It can vary by community, and should be reflective of the community
Use of metaphor can be evocative. If you’re too explicit, you can turn people off because they may think they know what you’re talking about, and therefore miss what you actually want them to do / think about. Whereas, using something that’s open to interpretation, or more abstract will stimulate discussion or reflection in the community.
Invitation to participate is essential. Invites can be in different forms:
  • Discovery (can be serendipitous)
  • Explicit invitation (this can take multiple forms)
Game mechanics (Amy Jo Kim) → games stimulate interest and engagement with content (3) (4) (I explored this idea a little bit last year when I was thinking about the use of gaming in physiotherapy)

Websites are not communities, people are communities
Howard Rheingold’s book “The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier” is a good exploration of online communities
How do you stop communities from fragmenting?
Facilitating online and offline communities is always evolving because the environment is always changing
A “CoP” perspective is not the same as defining if something is a CoP. CPD is an appropriate framework to explore communities:
  • Community (a group of people who can be named)
  • Practice (intent, talking about something in order to do it better
  • Domain (what we care about, shared interest, purpose)
Don’t change all 3 of the above at once, for fear of destabilising the CoP
CoP is not a binary thing. It can exist on continuum between is and isn’t
Small groups are adaptable, don’t have to negotiate (as much) in order to change, can be flexible
Institutional(?) / online interfaces are not usually designed for small groups, multiple small groups can scale out to large groups.
  • Me (individual): individual, identity, interest, trajectory, consciousness, confidence level, risk tolerance, styles, emotion
  • We (community): bounded, members who you know, group identity, shared interest, human centred, distinct power/trust dynamics, forward movement, strong blocking, statis, attention to maintenance, language
  • Many (networks): boundaryless, fuzzy, intersecting interests, “object centred sociality” (Jyri Engstrom), flows around blocks, less cohesion, distributed power/trust, change
People trust people around the content they produce. Blogs and referral systems can establish relationships around “objects” / content. This can be scary for people who are used to creating relationships around personal interactions. This has implications for how we use content to attract and engage with people. Communities are not about curating or archiving content, but for providing channels for sharing content and facilitating relationships.
There is a difference between a network and a community, and depending on your objectives, you may have to make a conscious decision about which one you want to develop towards. Networks of Practice is a concept used to explore the areas where network theory and CoP intersect (5).
  • Network – a lot of people know a lot of people, but they don’t all know each other. There are loose ties (link downloads article PDF) (Granovetter), it can scale beyond your ability to facilitate the group
  • Community – you know people more intimately, there is meaningful connection (but can also be present in networks)
Blogging and communities – Lilia Efimova
Dunbar’s number = 150 (how many stable social relationships we can manage)
People have to actively engage of their own accord without the community being “done to them”
Are we inward-facing or outward-facing in our department? Who are we looking to connect with / influence?
Legitimate peripheral participation i.e. lurking in online groups. Are they part of a network or a community? It can be argued either way. This is a big part of online social networks → community or network?
  1. Interview with Nancy White by George Siemens for the World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications
  2. Online companion to Digital Habitats:  Stewarding technology for communities
  3. Stuart, B. (2006). How game mechanics can make your app more fun – a blog post looking at some of Amy Jo Kim’s work
  4. Putting the fun in functional – presentation by Amy Jo Kim on Slideshare
  5. Knowledge Networks: Innovation through Communities of Practice
  6. Granovetter, M. (1983). The strength of weak ties: A network theory revisited. Sociological Theory, 1, 201-233 (link downloads PDF)

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-05-10

Developing clinical reasoning and critical thinking

“Clinical reasoning is a process in which the therapist, interacting with the patient and significant others (e.g. family and other health-care team members), structures meaning, goals and health management strategies based on clinical data, client choices and professional judgment and knowledge (Higgs & Jones, 2000).

Clinical reasoning is difficult, if not impossible to “teach” (if anything is actually possible to teach [Game & Metcalfe, 2009]) but can be developed indirectly through careful course design. I’m trying to move my teaching from helping students to answer the simple Who, What, Where and When questions, to answering the more complex How and Why questions. Instead of memorising content, which is how most of my students prefer to study, I’m trying to help them see the value in developing a deeper understanding of the topic. To use the content as a framework around which we can use critical thinking to apply our understanding of theory, to practice. In other words, to develop clinical reasoning.

I’ve started to change the types of assignments I give to my students, to try and integrate some form of critical thinking. I’ve uploaded and shared the last assignment handout on Google Docs (unfortunately I only have the PDF…seem to have deleted to ODT version), and would love suggestions or feedback on the process. The feedback from students has been great and the quality of the work they produce has been of a very high standard. I’ve found that the feedback from the drafting process (a requirement of the assignment) really helps to give direction to the students, and although they are initially resistant to the idea (they want to submit work that is perfect), they see the value when they get their scripts back and have the opportunity to refine their arguments.

The research and evidence-based practice component is something that we’re trying to incorporate into all of our modules, but which currently is covered only superficially. Students don’t understand how to extract relevant information from academic publications, probably because they lack the specific academic literacies required in higher education. Once we establish that they need only identify the main conclusion of the study (this is at a second year undergraduate level), and use that conclusion to construct an argument, they manage just fine.

Game, A., & Metcalfe, A. (2009). Dialogue and team teaching. Higher Education Research & Development, 28(1), 45-57. doi: 10.1080/07294360802444354

Higgs, J. & Jones, M. (2000). Clinical reasoning in the health professions. In Clinical Reasoning in the Health Professions, 2nd edition (J. Higgs & M. Jones, eds), pg. 3-14

UWC writing for publication retreat: day 2

Today has focused on the practical aspect of publication i.e. actually writing, so we didn’t have as many presentations. We began by reviewing some of what was discussed yesterday and adding a few reflections and comments from participants.

Yesterday, one of the presenters suggested the CARS (link downloads PDF) model for structuring an Introduction. Today, someone suggested that that particular model is based mainly on English language publications from the UK,USA and Australia. Some have suggested the OARO model as an alternative, based on a synthesis of publications from other countries:

Open A Research Option (OARO) model

  • Attract a readership
  • Establish credibility
    • Share background knowledge (own research / anecdotal experiences)
    • Justify the need for the research (answering the “why” question)
    • Present interesting thoughts (who decides what’s “interesting”?)
    • Introduce the general goal
  • Offer a line of enquiry (open questions and explore)
  • Introduce the topic

Remember that it’s difficult to build a model that is based on cross-disciplinary publications.

A review of the writing process

“An increasing number of references in publications may point to a form of academic insecurity”

How well are you telling your own story?

Instead of using pre-defined headings e.g. Discussion, try to highlight the major finding / point and use that for the heading instead

Each phrase should be used to advance your argument. Make sure that the pieces fit together to create a coherent whole.

Writing about the topic begins broadly (macro view) and then narrows to get to the crux of the article (micro view), then expands again to place the results into a broader context e.g. hourglass shape

Review of the literature (because it’s a process, not a thing)

Entering occupied territory” → can be intimidating

Be wary of absolute statements about the review i.e. what it should or shouldn’t do or be

Working with literatures:

  • Locate the work in a field
  • Create a mandate for the research
  • Informs the methods and theorisation
  • Specify the contribution

Learning to speak with authority, adopting a critical yet generous stance to the scholarship of the field, and establishing authority to speak, is an enormous challenge (Kamler & Thomson, 2006)

Find patterns in the literature


  • Chronological
  • Geographical
  • Definitions
  • Genre
  • Concepts
  • Methods
  • General → specific
  • Policy / practice

Try to avoid “Smith et al (2000) have suggested that…”, “They emphasise the following…” Rather, try to put your take on their research first, and then credit the other researchers

Trying to convince the reader that there’s an organising mind at work (Swales, 2004)

Literature review isn’t about constructing a thing, it’s a process that’s embedded throughout the article

New version of Mendeley

Quick post to mention the new 0.9 release of Mendeley.  I’m not going to go into too much detail, because the blog post announcing the release covers it all quite nicely.  I just wanted to mention my 2 favourite new features: the internal, tabbed PDF viewer and the ability to annotate and highlight documents (see image below with arbitrary notes).  Unfortunately, the ability to sync those highlights and annotations will only come with the next release.

All in all, this is a great package that’s well worth the effort to upgrade.

TWiT and Twitter conversations (no relation)

I listen to a podcast called This Week in Tech (TWiT), hosted by Leo Laporte and few other tech writers and hosts of their own shows (if you don’t listen to TWiT and you’re interested in tech, I’d definitely recommend it). There are 2 things I specifically want to mention about 2 of the recent shows that I listened to.

Towards the end of TWiT 197 “Steal this diploma”, the panel had a discussion about the changing nature of higher education (clicking the link will open the transcript for the show…search for “how pedagogy is changing”). I think if you’re reading this blog then you might find that to be an interesting conversation.

The second thing I wanted to mention is that I’ve been following the tweets from the Personal Democracy Forum conference (#pdf09) after listening to TWiT 199 “I’m a dinner jacket” earlier today. I’m not exactly new to Twitter (although I don’t post as often as some, or follow people who talk about their breakfast) but there was something that I didn’t exactly get until today. I’ve used Tweetdeck to create a search for “education” and “technology” but haven’t been very impressed with the results. Now I realise that it’s only searching for phrases that contain those key words. We also used Twitter to follow each other on the Mozilla Open Education course I participated in a few months ago, but still I didn’t get it. It was only today that I realised that I can use it to follow events in real time, kind of eavesdropping on a conversation between everyone who’s actually there. I’m realising more and more how incredibly powerful Twitter is, not as a tool, but as a communications platform. You can also read this article in Time magazine about how Twitter is changing the way we communicate.

KDE 4.3 is awesome

It’s been a busy few weeks at the university, with mid-year assessment (in all it’s various forms) having to take precedence over everything else.  Now that it’s over and students are on holiday, I’ve finally gotten around to doing the things I’ve been putting off for a while…like installing the beta version of KDE 4.3 on Kubuntu Jaunty.

The 4.x series of the desktop is getting more and more impressive with every iteration, so much so that I felt I needed to put it on show a little.  I’ve been playing around with it for a few days now and while it’s still a little buggy, it’s stable enough for me.  In this post, I’m going to go through some of the applications I use most often, and give my own thoughts about why I’m loving this update.

Desktop showing the Lancelot menu
Desktop showing the Lancelot menu
Folder view with expanding folders
Folder view with expanding folders

Desktop.  The Folder view widgets on the desktop do a great job of keeping it clean and useful, and I love the way they expand on mouseover to make navigation really easy and intuitive.  The Lancelot menu is brilliant, keeping unused applications out of the way, but making it simple to find them when needed.

Dolphin file manager with Konsole view (bottom)
Dolphin file manager with Konsole view (bottom)
Dolphin file manager with Split pane, Information, Places and File tree views
Dolphin file manager with Split pane, Information, Places and File tree views

File management.  There was a lot of controversy when the KDE developers decided to
create Dolphin and replace Konqueror as the default file manager, but it was clearly the right move.  There are a couple of things that I love about Dolphin, including the Information side panel, split view mode, Terminal view and the integration of Nepomuk semantic search. word processor word processor

Work stuff.  I tried using KOffice2 even though it’s a platform release (because it looks so very cool), but there are a few issues that keep me from switching from, the main one being that it doesn’t support OpenDocument or MS Word files as well as OpenOffice does, and the fonts look terrible.

BasKet note taking application (showing default example)
BasKet note taking application (showing default example)

I’ve installed and am using BasKet notepads for my note taking application, which unfortunately is still a KDE 3.5 application.  There were some concerns about the project stalling when the lead developer decided that he couldn’t continue maintaining it, but it seems as if it’s been taken up by others and may yet have a future.  I hope so because it’s a great application, even in it’s current state.  A project to watch out for in this field is SemNotes, a semantic note taking application being built on Nepomuk (see here for screencast).

Okular universal file viewer (showing PDF with annotations)
Okular universal file viewer (showing PDF with annotations)

Okular is a universal document viewer, although I don’t use if for much other than PDFs.  The feature I like most is the ability to annotate documents, although the default colour scheme of the notes isn”t great.

Calendar in Kontact
Calendar in Kontact

I used to use Kontact for email for the longest time but then I switched to Thunderbird for a while, then Spicebird and finally back to Kontact.  In terms of functionality, nothing comes close to it right now.  I’d like to say that I use Akkregator for my feeds, but it’s missing something that I can’t quite put my finger on.  The interface also hasn’t changed much in the past few years and it seems very slow.

Firefox web browser
Firefox web browser

I have to admit that I’m using the 3.5 preview release of Firefox as the web browser, rather than Konqueror.  While Konqueror was awesome a few years ago, it hasn’t kept up with the changes on the web, and is really starting to show it’s age.  There’s a lot happening at Mozilla that Konqueror jsut can’t keep up with and unless there’s a radical change of pace in it’s development, I can’t imagine using it again.

Amarok media player
Amarok media player

Multimedia.  I’m always switching between different media players, but generally I’ve been keen on Songbird and Amarok for managing my whole library, and Audacious as a light-weight player for quickly playing single files.  Gwenview (the image viewer) has been given an overhaul and

Gwenview in Browse mode with Information side panel on view
Gwenview in Browse mode with Information side panel on view

does a brilliant job of managing image libraries.  Amarok is a bit buggy right now (although I am running the beta version of 2.1) and it’s still lacking some functionality that was present in 1 (the port to Qt4 means a lot of catching up has to be done), which is why I use Songbird on occasion.  But as with other KDE apps right now, it’s in a state of transition and every release is building on the solid platform that was laid down with 2.0.

Marble desktop globe showing satelite view
Marble desktop globe showing satelite view

Marble.  This is a great tool that’s something along the lines of Google Earth and Maps, but it’s open and a native KDE application.  I’ve included these screenshots showing a satelite view, as well as a

Marble desktop globe showing Open Streetmap view
Marble desktop globe showing Open Streetmap view

street view using Open Streetmap.  It’s already got Wikipedia and Flickr integration for additional information, as well as being able to overlay additional data, like temperature and precipitation maps.  It’s a young project that’s come really far and has the capability to be incorporated into other KDE apps, like using it together with geo-tagging photos in Digikam.

The one thing that I can’t find anywhere is a decent podcast catcher…something like Gpodder for Gnome, but native to KDE.  I know that Amarok has one but it’s not working for me and besides, it’s lacking the finishing touches that would win me over.  Little things like being able to read a summary of the podcast would be so useful but is currently impossible.

I’m also not a fan of Kpackagekit, as it’s still very much in development and doesn’t always work very well.  Generally the command line is quicker anyway, but there’s always Synaptic if a GUI is needed.

Anyway, that’s a brief overview of some of the apps that i use and while most of them are still in beta, there’s so much happening in KDE right now that this post will be outdated very shortly.  Sigh…

If you’re interested in following the developments in KDE, check out KDE.News