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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-12-20

  • dRonaldArendse Boxing day #
  • @Shuayb702 the weather here is ridiculous #
  • @RonaldArendse spending Christmas and birthday with my sister & her family #
  • Just arrived in Durban, the air is wet #
  • Future of education. R we having the right conversation? Ed. & social conditions are inseparable #
  • The Problem of Filters and Silos Big ideas lie @ the edge of our field, where we spend the least time #
  • Which Ideas Are the Good Ones? It may take time to recognise the value of innovating in the curriculum #
  • On my way to Durban for a week, let me know if u want to hang out #
  • Anyone got Cell C 3G USB modem running on Ubuntu 10.10? #
  • Playing around with #SlideRocket a bit. Very cool online presentation tool #
  • Being Understood Requires Context… When presenting, just giving the facts isn’t enough #
  • Been looking for an online project management tool. #Gantto seems pretty useful (still in beta) #
  • OER@UCT | Is the Lecture Dead? #
  • Are You Making These Dissertation Writing Mistakes? « To Do: Dissertation #
  • Just applied to participate in the Chrome OS netbook pilot program. B nice 2 c if online only, all the time is feasible #
  • Just confirmed my booking for camping at Monks Cowl next week, should be good times #
  • Having lunch at #Barrique fantastic food, beautiful setting, great service. I’m just saying… #
  • RT @roballen101: RT @whiteafrican – Shouldn’t these #ICTD conferences be held in emerging markets, not Europe and the US? #
  • RT @whiteafrican: Turns out there are very few ICT Research projects done by African institutions (9%), or by Africans at all. #ICTD2010 #
  • Thought Leader » Jennifer Thorpe » The medical mutilation of women’s rights via @mailandguardian #
  • Tech Leader » Wesley Lynch » E-books: Publishing on the eve of a revolution #
  • How 10 Year Olds Explain Cloud Computing – ReadWriteCloud “How big is it? How big do you want it to be?” #
  • Thought Leader » Christmas is sick! I have to agree with most of this. Comments are worth a read too #
  • Cellphones in the Classroom: Distraction or Tool? #
  • RT @wesleylynch: RT @spillly: When I see someone write a word like Twitterverse or Twitteriffic, I Twow up in my mouth a little #
  • Just voted for HootSuite for Best Social Media Management Tool #MashableAwards #
  • RT @newsfromtengrrl: Blind Students Demand Access to Online Course Materials – The Chronicle of Higher Education #
research social media

Google Docs for collaborative writing

We’ve recently started using Google Docs for collaborative work in the physiotherapy department and it’s been great so far.  There are other online word processing environments with different feature sets (Zoho, Thinkfree, Microsoft Office Live, Buzzword), but after playing around with all of them, I found that Docs offered the best mix of features, usability and stability.  Buzzword is probably the most innovative, I’m going to follow them and see what happens in that space.

While Docs lacks many of the features you’ll find in a desktop work processor like, it’s still got a pretty useful set.  These include; exporting your work into multiple formats, commenting, bookmarking, auto-generation of tables of contents, different user roles, version history and basic text formatting options.

In the physiotherapy department, we’re using Docs to peer review articles for publication in the faculty journal, rather than emailing articles and comment forms back and forth between reviewers, editors and authors.  We’re also using it to collaborate on joint projects (like new course development) with our sister university in Missouri.  And lastly, over the past month or so I’ve been using it to provide feedback on project proposals with two undergraduate research groups.  This has been working really well for the students because they’re currently on their clinical placements and find it difficult to meet in person.  With regards the undergrad research, I’ve also been using Twitter to push out articles for the literature review and methodology sections.

By using Firefox addons and scripts with Greasemonkey, Docs can be improved still further.  One of the biggest problems in the past was that it was only available in the “cloud“.  However, now that the Gears addon is stable, Docs is available in offline mode too.  This is possibly it’s most powerful feature, allowing offline access to your work and synchronisation with the online version later.  It also handles conflicts between edits very well.

There are some issues with Docs however, highlighting the fact that as with all technology, there are going to be problems.  I came across these articles while doing the background research for the department: Why Docs is not safe, Google adapts and modifies content (discusses the copyright issues of hosting content with Google), and Painful lessons from using Google Docs.

I’m really excited at the prospect of increasing our use of online, collaborative environments.  Today it’s Google Docs, but who knows what it’ll be tomorrow?


The Tower and the Cloud

Just a quick pointer to what I think is going to be a great read.  “The Tower and the Cloud” is a new publication by EDUCAUSE, which looks at the impact of cloud computing on higher education.  The book is divided into broad sections, each containing several chapters, with each chapter written by a different author who is a prominent figure in the field of e-learning.

I’m particularly keen on the section, Open Information, Open Content, Open Source, containing the following chapters (I’ve linked to the downloadable chapters):

The book is available as a free download, as well as a paid-for hardcopy that can be shipped internationally, and is published under a Creative Commons license.  I’m really looking forward to reading this.

Note: EDUCAUSE is a “…nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology”.

Other books available from EDUCAUSE include: