Friday, 21 September 2012

Weekly Learning Technology Digest... 27

Image by Susan Sermoneta, under a
CC BY 2.0 license
Busy, busy... with an extra slice of busy on top. That just about sums up these next few weeks in the world of Higher Education.  New year.  New students.  New courses.  New systems.  New approaches.  All new and shiny!  But underneath the new and shiny is a lot of work to get it up and ready so I'm sure that up and down the country there are learning technologists buried in an avalanche of stuff as we kick off the new year!

And, as I always like to give a tenuous link into the week's digest... in amongst all that busy, shouldn't we make time for a little break?  I think so!  Kick back and take a wander through the weekly learning technology digest...
  • The first thing I think is worth a read this week is about our own Gary Wood and the work he did with his first year Linguistics students which won him the Google / ALT 'Apps in Learning and Teaching' Award - plus, it's got a lovely little video of the launch event for 'AllAboutLinguistics' where you get to hear his students talk about their use of Apps. Go Gary!
  • Talking of Google, Mashable reported this week that Google+ has 400 million members and while it's debatable as to what they actually mean by this (the fact that someone clicked a button to sign up for an account is not the same as them actually using it) you have to admit that those are pretty big numbers! They do say that 100 million users use Google+ each month so if you haven't looked at it in a while, maybe it's worth taking another peek?
  • ... and while one service expands... another one does things that make you wonder if keeping their users happy is part of their plan.  The website (if this then that) has been forced to remove Twitter triggers and this is indicative of a trend with Twitter to try to keep users on their site rather than opening up tweets to other services.  Free services always come at a price!
  • If this makes you nervous of free online services, then how about backing up some of your online stuff?  MakeUseOf had Quick, Easy ways to download photos from Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Google+ and more as one of their articles and it's definitely worth a read!
  • JISC Digital Media also had a great article on Using Digital Media for Teaching and Learning and though it's pretty long, it covers areas such as how you can use digital media, where you can source media, examples of how others have done it and a heads up on the legal side of it too. Very handy and worth bookmarking for reference.
  • The Guardian's Higher Education Network also had a handy article on Student Engagement: 20 points for students unions and academics to note and there are some nice ideas which came out of a live chat hosted by the network.
  • Whilst writing up an article on OER, I came across the Blended Learning Toolkit from the University of Central Florida which has a US-focus (and hence some of the materials may not be as relevant as others), it's still a good place to stop off and there's a MOOC you can sign up for too which starts next week.
  • And one final link for you... YouTube testing feature to quiz you while you're watching a video and to help with flipping the classroom, this could be a really useful addition to your online tools (especially if, like us, you have Google Apps at your institution)
  • Oh, maybe that wasn't the final link... if you were reading this as part of your efforts at improving your procrastination skills... then this video from LifeHacker could be one you really need to see!
Right, that really is me done!  Enjoy the start of the Academic year!

If I've missed anything from this week's weekly digest, do drop me off a comment below as I'd love to see what interested you this week too!



  1. Great post, thank you Sarah! I am completely new to online teaching to groups, as a tutor I work on a 1 to 1 basis but I really want to start opening my service up and creating drop-in sessions. Problem is, at the moment I haven't quite got the hang of how to do it yet. I'm eyeing up Google+ Hangouts. Any ideas?

  2. Hi Kerstin - thanks for the comment

    Well, I think that if you're working with students that Google+ Hangouts rather than Hangouts On Air are going to be your best best. They allow you the privacy that a Hangout On Air won't and I think that will provide a better environment for students. If what you're doing is booking in appointments with them to speak to you individually then setting up an event and making it online only, i.e. as a hangout, would be good - the advantage there is that it'll live in your diary / their diary and make things a lot simpler. Alternatively, just let your students know when your office hours are and let them initiate a hangout with you if / when they want - you can do this in several ways, but one way to try might be to create a new thread in Google+ and make it so that only the circle which has your students in it can see it. They can then initiate a hangout with you off that thread and it'll help you manage the whole thing too. There are lots of ways of doing it and I think that the combination of circles + hangouts could be a great way of providing additional one-to-one support.

    We're going to be piloting drop-in sessions to support TEL too, so we'll share our experiences here on the blog when we can!


    PS let us know how you get on too!



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