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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-12-06

  • 20 Things I Learned About Browsers and the Web http://bit.ly/i5BNhn. Simple guide to showcase HTML5, from Google #
  • RT @theobnoxiousowl: Social networking is word of mouth on steroids. Can you control word of mouth? It’s almost impossible #
  • @jpbosman Hi JP. What’s the new direction? We should hook up & chat since I missed HELTASA. Been out of things 4 a while and need 2 catch up #
  • elearnspace β€Ί Will online lectures destroy universities? http://bit.ly/eGPTNr (interesting exchange in the comments) #
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twitter feed

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-08-16

  • Pepsi spill causes sticky mess in science blogging ecosystem http://bit.ly/8XiQ3N #
  • Just started reading “Unseen academicals”. I love Terry Pratchett #
  • Plagiarism Is Not a Big Moral Deal. I teach professional ethics in practice, and I agree with this http://bit.ly/b37kfw #
  • Mobile Phone Learning on the Move in Africa. http://bit.ly/aVpdV3 #
  • Juxio – combine image and text into visual streams. Could be useful for creating small learning resources http://bit.ly/9Vgswz #
  • Comparing Books & E-Books. I’m still not sure where I stand http://bit.ly/9lOtGv #
  • @tony_emerge nice to see I’m not the only 1 still up πŸ™‚ was good to chat at the colloquium on Friday #
  • Do New Tools = New Learning? I don’t think using new tools automatically maps to new learning http://bit.ly/9x4ST6 #
  • What You Need To Know About Data Portability http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=53116 #
  • Social networking and loneliness. See this in some of my students…the pressure of living for an audience http://bit.ly/d1HQOM #
  • @ianuct Wow, I’d love to have a look at how you do it. Maybe I can meet up with u sometime during the week? Do you have the desktop version? in reply to ianuct #
  • @ianuct What are you thoughts on #Prezi I’ve played with it but actually find the lack of linearity hard to work with in reply to ianuct #
  • Thank you. RT @ianuct: Drew the keynote “Experiences in personal learning”. Find a balance between consuming & sharing http://bit.ly/92CwDd #
  • Battery getting low, so in case phone dies before the end…thank you #Maties for awesome #TEDxStellenbosch #
  • Weird…they handed out #vuvuzelas during intermission at #TEDxStellenbosch & are surprised that people are blowing them? #
  • @jpbosman hey man, how come you’re not at #TEDxStellenbosch Thought this would be the sort of thing you’re interested in #
  • @geekrebel where are you? #
  • Vegetarian meals only at #TEDxStellenbosch I’m not a vegetarian but…what a great idea when promoting sustainability #
  • #TEDxStellenbosch We’re moving from an era of “me”, to an era of “we”. Similar ideas in education with social learning #
  • Comment from earlier speaker at #TEDxStellenbosch “Africa isn’t poor, we just don’t have a lot of money” #
  • @geekrebel Thanks for organising access, #Skyrove doing an awesome job again πŸ™‚ #
  • @elodiek I’m going back to obz so can help you guys out if you still looking (i know henk) #
  • @geekrebel I just got here and am 1 of those 4 πŸ™‚ I’m right at the back and can’t see any screens #
  • At #TEDxStellenbosch so impressed with setup, thank you #Skyrove for wireless, always appreciated #
  • Just got home from #ipex had a good 2 days, learnt a lot. Leaving in an hour for #TEDxStellenbosch (http://tedxstellenbosch.org/) #
  • Spent most of yesterday marking tests & assignments, same again today…sigh #
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PhD research students

Thoughts on social networking with 3rd year physio students

Earlier this week I ran a workshop with our 3rd year physio students, as part of my SAFRI project where I’m looking at how participation in a social network can impact reflective learning practices in a community. Unlike the other workshops I’ve run, I’m going to be running this assignment, which will see the students posting 2 reflective pieces based on ethical dilemmas they’ve experienced while on their clinical placements. I was struck by a few thoughts as I was going over some of the activity I observed both during and after the workshop.

This group is by far the most technologically sophisticated group I’ve run the workshop to date. As we were setting up their profile pages, some of the students were logging into their Facebook accounts to pull in those photos to add to our social network. Most of what I was explaining wasn’t new, and even for those who have no experience with any other social networks, they caught on pretty quickly.

I learned that at least one of them enjoys photography, and not only enjoys it but shares his fantastic pictures on Tumblr. I would probably never have learned that about him if it wasn’t for this little experiment of mine. I think that that’s one of the enormous benefits of social networks…that we might actually engage with students in ways that would never come up in class. I mean, how many times do we ask students what their hobbies are? And even if we do, and they choose to mention it, will it ever match up to being able to see it? After exploring some of the photos from this student, I came across one of his short posts, which is one of the most inspiring things I’ve read in a while.

It was quite exciting for me not to have to listen to any moaning when I introduced this assignment. I also haven’t read anything negative about either the assignment or the network, which is refreshing. I did have one student report that the “workshop sucked”, although he hasn’t yet responded to my request for any suggestions for improvement. We still have issues with some of them not having computer or internet access at home, but I think that being on campus for at least a short while during the week is enough time to participate.

I have one more workshop to do with the first year students, which I’m hoping to finish sometime next week. Then it’s just a case of waiting for the assignments to finish running, survey the students to determine their experiences using the network, and finally to analyse their activity to see if there was any reflection / community building going on. I’m going to actively facilitate this group, as opposed to the relatively passive stance that other lecturers took when their assignments were running. I’m interested in seeing if this group has a better experience with active facilitation, as opposed to just being left to their own devices.

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Open source alternatives to proprietary applications

I thought I’d take a moment to briefly mention a few open source alternatives to popular computer applications. The following programmes are all:
  • Open source – the source code is freely available, which usually means more stable and more secure.
  • Free – as in no cost and free from restriction.
  • Cross-platform – they run on multiple operating systems, including Linux and Windows.
  • As good as, if not better than, their proprietary counterparts.

So, here goes (by the way, this list is by no means complete):

Firefox – A very popular web browser that offers a more secure, more intuitive and faster alternative to Internet Explorer.

OpenOffice.org – An entire office suite of applications for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, databases and drawing. It uses the OpenDocument format by default and as such, it’s use is encouraged, especially in academia and governments.

Thunderbird – An email client that is a fast, secure and stable replacement for Outlook and Outlook Express, especially if you just need something light to manage your email.

Pidgin – An single instant messaging client that allows you to use all of your IM accounts at once, including IRC, MSN, Groupwise, AIM and ICQ.

Miro – An Internet TV application to subscribe to RSS feeds of free content from a host of providers, including TED, National Geographic and the Discovery Channel.

GIMP – The Gnu Image Manipulation Program. A free alternative to Photoshop that, while lacking some high end, professional features, does more than enough for most of us.

Flock – Social web browser…if you use Facebook, Flickr, Digg, or any other social networking service, this is for you.

Ubuntu – Not a software application but an entire operating system, Ubuntu is a Linux distribution based on Debian. Click here for the Wikipedia article.

Another great application to run, although once it’s set up you’ll hardly ever notice it, is BOINC (click here for the Wikipedia article). After installing the software, register with various projects and join millions of other users who donate their computer’s idle time to solving complex medical, scientific and mathematical problems. I can suggest the World Community Grid to begin with.

And while I’m at it, here’s a link to a post that discusses some of the problems with using Microsoft Word. I personally don’t mind receiving Word documents and understand that many institutions don’t give their employees a choice, but the first step is realising that you actually have a choice.