Friday, 18 May 2012

Weekly Learning Technology Digest... 12

Image from Thomas Hawk, available under a
CC BY-NC 2.0 license
Another week has zoomed by and the weekly learning technology digest has been scooping up lots of bits and bobs from across the web.  Sometimes it seems that everything's nicely connected... other times there's a complete hotchpotch of 'stuff'.  This week falls into the latter camp!
  • 'Eight free tools for teachers to make awesome infographics' - we love infographics for visualising data / making clean, succinct points... we love free... so, what's not to like from this article I spotted on the Educational Technology and Mobile Learning blog?  Nothing!  But... for a bit of balance - you might like this article from ReadWriteWeb which questions whether easy creation of infographics is a good thing!
  • I attended a webinar where the following resource was shared 'Critical Friends and Effective Practice' and thought it was worth passing on this week too.  Whether you're talking about large-scale projects or small-scale practitioner-led innovation... developing an activity to developing a programme - having a critical friend can be more helpful than you might realise. 
  • At the same webinar the 'JISC Change Management InfoKit' was shared - and again, if you want to stash this one away to refer back to, it's a good one to know about.  I'm sure when you read the 'organisational cultures' section you'll have a penny dropping moment about your own institution and this will really help when it comes to thinking about how to approach change issues.
  • For the past few weeks online open courses have been very much the hot topic.  Which makes this article in Forbes, 'What my 11 year old's Stanford course taught me about online education' fascinating reading.  A couple of points - the (slightly disturbing) way the 11 year old applied his new found knowledge and the quote "The most important button for video lectures is not ‘play’ but ‘pause.’" - have given me real food for thought.
  • Learning analytics were also on my radar this week - and 'The State of Learning Analytics in 2012 - A review and future challenges' by the Open University's Rebecca Ferguson is well worth reading if you're getting to grips with what this might mean for learning and teaching practices as well as the learners themselves.
  • Google launched their 'Research tool' - which essentially means that your Google docs become active spaces in which you can carry out web-based research as you go (it's gradually being rolled out so you may not see it yet - I can see it in my personal gmail account, I can't yet see it in my Google Apps account).  While this is no replacement for Google Scholar, it's a great addition - and reveals yet again the importance of information literacy in the curriculum.
The Research tool accessed via a right click in a Google Doc
  • 'Google+ Engagement still way behind Facebook and Twitter' was an interesting headline in Mashable... but... the problem with their figures is that they are only analysing public postings / interactions... since Google+ is centred around the use of circles to control the audience to which you release content, it makes this a bit of research to take with a pinch of salt. One of the quotes in the comments on this article I think hits the nail on the head in many respects, 'I don’t think of it as a stand-alone social network; I think of it as a social layer added to most of Google’s other products', so whether or not comparing it with Facebook and Twitter is even relevant, I'm not sure.
  • And finally... a few random articles if the above didn't satisfy your appetite for all things ed tech! 'What's the point of hashtags?' from ReadWriteWeb (handy overview), 'The Fallacy of Information Overload' from Brian Solis (it's a lack of purpose, relevance and focus instead if you're interested!), 'How Yahoo Killed Flickr and Lost the Internet' from Gizmodo (fascinating look at why things can go wrong) and the last one '20 ways of thinking about digital literacy in higher education' from The Guardian's Higher Education Network.
A bit of strategic thinking, a little slice of social media, a smattering of digital literacy, a small selection of tools and techniques for the classroom... and that's your lot!

See you next week.


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