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Learning Technologies Twitter back channels

Photo by Morning Brew on Unsplash

Following on from my previous post where I reflected on my own visit to the Learning Technologies exhibition in London Olympia last week, I felt the need to catch up on the Twitter backchannel to help me get a feel for what was said at the conference on Level 3. The conference was rich with my learning gurus and those who would soon be on that guru list.

If anyone wanted to be convinced about the value of Twitter, this is definitely one example. It was (almost) like being there again but this time I had the luxury of checking out the links within the tweets for further information. Hail the backchannel. And hail @learninganorak who did a sterling job of Tweeting updates throughout the two days (I honestly don’t know how you do it – you must have bionic fingers).

From there I was able to catch up on various blog posts reflecting on the event both from the conference and the vendor floors. Everyone has a different perspective but there was a common theme about the mis-match of focus between floors as I mentioned in my previous post. Then I thought – hey, how about collating all these blog posts in one place and sharing them.

It was such a brilliant idea that I was pipped to the post by Cathy Moore. It certainly saved me a job. So rather than me repeat the super job Cathy has already done why don’t you check it out for yourself. And just so I feel I have contributed to the list here are a few more. Happy catch-up.

e-Learning Centre’s review
Craig Taylor’s reflections
Nowcomms Learning Technologies exit poll (an interesting read)

Scan this….

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I’m all excited. I’ve discovered QR codes.

Well, I haven’t just discovered QR codes. I have been aware of them for some time and have ‘played’ with them using an App on my iPhone. What I meant to say was I’ve just discovered how to use them for something tangible and very useful.

It’s been a very busy couple of days planning for Learning Technologies next week where the we have a stand; we were tasked with designing brand new posters for the event advertising our eLearning courses. Well, needless to say, I was in my element. My creative ideas were going wild and my two worlds started to collide. Technology and art.

I also have more than a little interest in marketing. It’s not a professional interest you understand but I am fascinated by it. Bearing in mind that I love simplicity in my designs, I was trying to think of an effective way of providing extra information without covering the posters in text – a big mistake a lot of people make, confusing the reader. Then I had a brainwave. What about using QR codes to link to contextually specific information from our website. And what a perfect venue for the trial. A conference where technology is the heart of everything.

I couldn’t wait to try it out and the first idea was to create a label with a QR code to stick to the back of my business cards. When scanned, this code will take my networking connections straight to my LinkedIn profile.

So now we have four posters, each with a barcode unobtrusively on the bottom corner and high-tech (well nearly) business cards.

I used Kaywa to create my QR codes as recommended by Phil Vincent from Sheffield University (thanks Phil). Phil also uses Goo.gl but I’ve not tried this yet.

The Apps I have are Bakodo and QR Code Reader from ShopSavvy

I will be very interested to hear other creative uses for QR codes you have. I can already think of some for learning – have you?

Social media community to the rescue!

Photo by Esteban Lopez on Unsplash

It seemed like the media was raging war on the social media.  Are attitudes starting to change?  There have been many stories since the emergence of social media tools around how ‘dangerous’ they are.  I have Tweeted on several occasions when social media has been put in the dock  being blamed for bullying, burglaries, sackings and many more.  The fact that it is the behaviour of the individuals using the tools inappropriately in the same way as it’s not cars that cause accidents but the nutters behind the wheel.  A bad workman always blames his tools as the saying goes.

But, hey!  In the space of a couple of days, we hear two separate stories where the use of social media and, more importantly the social media community, has been called upon to help.  Why? Because social media reaches those whom the more ‘traditional’ channels of communication may not reach.  Not just that, but also because of the viral effect it has – the news can spread like wild fire exponentially.

We have heard how a Facebook campaign has been used by Avon and Somerset Police to help their enquiries in the Jo Yates’ murder.  This is not the first time the Police has used this means of communication.

We have also heard how both Facebook and Twitter has been used, together with their high profile members, in the search for missing Serena Beakhurst.  The latest good news is that Serena has been found.

So let’s hear it for the social media community and here’s to more good news stories for a change.

Just like any implement – it is us who will choose whether to use it for good or evil.  It would be great to hear from you what good news stories you have where social media has had a positive role to play.

 

A look back on my 2010

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

A Happy New Year to one and all. For my first post of 2011 I thought I’d look back on my 2010.

2010 was a year of firsts for me:

1. I started Tweeting
2. I started blogging
3. I got my first iPhone
4. I delivered my first presentation to a room full of strangers

It won’t come as any surprise to you all then to hear what my top tools for 2010 were!

One that has to be near the top of the list is Twitter which has proved to be an invaluable professional development tool. It’s been nearly a year since I began my Twitter journey and I will review my first year at another time.

The others, in no particular order are:

WordPress which I use for my blog
Evernote – very useful for collating my research articles and planning my blog posts
Hootsuite – helps me manage my social media posts
Google calendar – to share with friends and colleagues
Feedly and Google Reader to help collate my blog subscriptions
PowerPoint 2007 (not yet got 2010)

The overall number one tool for me in 2010 though has got to be my iPhone (although other smart phones are available) which has helped me use my beloved Twitter at more convenient times. Snatches in between sessions, waiting for a train, sat in the dentist’s waiting room – always connected. Before my iPhone, it was often inconvenient and frustrating to use Twitter. Although I could access it from my normal mobile phone via text, it was cumbersome and using it on my laptop meant I was probably interrupting some other piece of work I should have been concentrating on.

My smart phone gives me easy access not only to Twitter but to my top tools as listed above and:

    • e-mails (all accounts)
    • my contacts and calendars
    • all blogs I subscribe to
    • my Amazon account
    • video snippets on YouTube
    • podcasts
    • my Skype account
    • a collection of online newspapers
  •  
      my Kindle collection

In fact, I will go as far as to say, my iPhone has become my mobile office.

What are my predictions for top tools in 2011? Well, I’m guessing my new Kindle I had for Christmas might be playing a big part in 2011 for me. My iPhone, of course will still be there as the contract doesn’t come to an end until 2012. It is debatable whether I will stay with the iPhone – but smartphones are here to stay.

A year blogging – my 10 takeaways

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Well, it’s been nearly a year since I began blogging which was a new year’s resolution I actually kept. I’m afraid the one about maintaining a healthier lifestyle as usual didn’t last long at all – no surprise there then!

So how have I found blogging during the last 12 months? It’s been mixture. Firstly, I was apprehensive and very quickly got writer’s block in that as soon as I sat down with my laptop in front of me, all the little ideas that came to me in the strangest of places, disappeared and I couldn’t think what to write. I was also anxious. Anxious that people wouldn’t like what I wrote – even worse – people wouldn’t read what I wrote. I became worried. Worried that not only would I struggle to think of something to write but struggle to find the time.

After a little talk with myself (I do that quite a lot) and a little grounding from friends and fellow bloggers, I set myself some ground rules (in no particular order)

1. Aim for one blog a week
2. Not to beat myself up if I couldn’t achieve this
3. Jot down ideas for blogs as they come to me
4. Share my opinions on other people’s posts from my own perspective as I would if discussing them with a friend or colleague
5. Share any hints or tips that have helped me
6. Write as naturally as I speak (within reason!)
7. Be nice even when I disagree
9. Write as if everyone is listening
10. Accept that maybe no-one will

What have I learned from the whole blogging experience?

I’ve learned to keep a record of my ideas in one place. I have two tools to help me with this. I have a notebook I carry around with me where I will write down any little thing that comes to mind and write rough notes or even a first draft. I have also found Evernote invaluable and as I speak (sorry – write), I am drafting this in Evernote now. The beauty of Evernote is that it syncs across platforms which means if I have access to the internet, I can log on and write. It also allows me to collate any research I need for my blog posts.

I’ve learned to speed up my writing process – although I still struggle with this. “I didn’t have time to write a short letter so I wrote a long one instead” a quote often attributed to Mark Twain (amongst others) is so me.

Blogging has helped me analyse and consolidate. I’m a magpie with information. I was in danger of just collecting great stories, statistics, presentations and hiding them away in my Evernote library – where they sat. I do that with books too. It’s almost like if I collect enough books I might absorb their riches by osmosis! I would read but not always analyse. Blogging has helped me analyse and make sense of things. It has helped me form my own opinions and reasoning.

More importantly, I’ve learned to believe in myself, in my experience and in my abilities a lot more.

If you haven’t thought about blogging before. Go on – jump in with both feet. I wholeheartedly recommend it. And if you have started blogging recently I would love to hear your tips and experiences.

Behind the mask of cyberspace

Image by Serge WOLFGANG from Pixabay

The need for education not eradication

 I had a conversation today about the dangers of the internet and why a lot of sites are frequently banned from access in some organisations. The concerns raised were about how easy it is for people to take what is written on websites at face value. Because it’s been published on web pages it must be true. It’s all very well encouraging us to access anything we need by a quick search on Google but people can be anyone they want to be in cyberspace, they said. Sites are blocked in case people get the wrong information. Even students in our schools and colleges are copying and pasting what they believe is valid into their course work and believing everything in blind faith.

It is true that anyone can pretend to be anyone with bogus qualifications and exaggerated expertise. But has it increased or just become more visible? Can you believe everything you read in the newspapers? For centuries we have used tools to help us carry out tasks easier and quicker. Fire is dangerous, destructive and indiscriminate in its devastation but we learned to work with it, tame it, harness it and use it for our benefit. With inconsiderate behaviour it will rage out of control again.

Admittedly we have seen many examples of fraudulent acts using the power of the internet. You should see my junk folder – it’s full strangers offering me hundreds of thousands of pounds for just doing them a little monetary favour!. Did they appear all of a sudden because of the internet? No, they just used more traditional methods of delivery before. There were scam letters, chain letters, bogus ‘cowboy’ companies offering deals via flyers posted through your letterbox. The bad guys no longer wear black hats to help you recognise them quickly but there are clues if you look closely. Dastardly people will always be around – and they will always find new ways of continuing their dastardly deeds. Of course not everyone offers misinformation on purpose it just may be inaccurate or biased. This doesn’t mean we should stop using the same tools, banning their use …. just in case! That’s like cutting our noses off to spite our faces. It’s like depriving ourselves of holidays in the sun in case we get burned.

Once upon a time, I worked in an NHS library services. We taught junior doctors about critically appraising written journal articles because even though they appeared in reputable journals, it didn’t mean that the reports were as accurate as they seemed. The introduction of the internet meant we needed to educate users on heightened risks. We taught our medical staff not only to critically appraise official journal articles but also how to use the internet appropriately, provided them with guidelines, a list of reputable sites and the dangers of pure acceptance.

What we need is a little education. We need to help our staff and learners use these tools safely and responsibly – help them learn and work smarter, more effectively and more efficiently. Instead of throwing your arms up in horror and banning these powerful tools, let’s educate and manage staff and watch your productivity grow and their engagement increase.