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  • Michael Rees 18:49 on 06/06/2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Precarity in Australian Higher Education 

    I just discovered the beautiful word ‘precarity’ in the subtitle of a newly found blog with an equally beautiful title ‘Music for Deckchairs’. I am not too proud to use the Wikipedia definition:

    Precarity is a condition of existence without predictability or security, affecting material or psychological welfare. Specifically, it is applied to the condition of intermittent or underemployment and the resultant precarious existence.

    Thanks so much Kate Bowles @KateMfD.

  • Michael Rees 17:55 on 10/05/2012 Permalink | Reply

    Adjusting to Malleable Ebooks 

    EBOOKSI have been meaning to add this morsel for a few months now. The ability of ebooks to be changed frequently requires the reader to adopt a different philosophy when responding to the ebook contents, to be aware that they may not be reading the final version. Indeed, there may never be a final version at all. Imagine coming back to a fiction novel only to find the ending has changed, or finding extra chapters that draw different conclusions in a non-fiction work.

    This never-ending property is discussed well by Nicolas Carr in his post ‘Books That Are Never Done Being Written’. It is well worth a read, even after all this time:

    An e-book, I realized, is far different from an old-fashioned printed one. The words in the latter stay put. In the former, the words can keep changing, at the whim of the author or anyone else with access to the source file. The endless malleability of digital writing promises to overturn a whole lot of our assumptions about publishing.

  • Michael Rees 10:20 on 03/05/2012 Permalink | Reply  

    MOOCs Explode 

    Harvard and MIT are teaming up to offer MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) in a well-funded joint venture. A good summary of their competitors is summarised in an NPR article and associated audio broadcast:

    Last month, Stanford, Princeton, Berkeley, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan announced that they were working with Coursera, a Silicon Valley startup, to put more than a dozen classes online this year in subjects ranging from computer science to public health to poetry.

    Earlier this year, Stanford professor Sebastian Thrun, one of the inventors of Google’s self-driving car, announced he was leaving the school to start a company called Udacity, which would hire world-class professors from leading universities to create free online classes.

    I am enrolled as a student on the CS101 Intro to Comp Sci course from Coursera and the more interesting CS253 Web Apps Engineering course from Udacity. The education technology they use is an eye-opener and straightforward enough to be used by any educational institution.

  • Michael Rees 18:07 on 17/04/2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Insightful advice for eReseachers 

    I thoroughly recommend the talk Phillip Long @radhertz gave in his institution’s research week. The title is “Tools for Open Scholarship – Practicing to be a eResearcher” and covers the state of open access in research and how a researcher can sensibly participate in eResearch via an array of online social tools mixed with more specific scientific apps like a works repository and bibliography manager. Phillip’s prezi is built upon another created by Ismael Peña-López. You can play the prezi direct from Phillip’s blog post.


    2012-04-17 SNAG-00

  • Michael Rees 10:37 on 02/04/2012 Permalink | Reply

    Faculty Encouraged to Create Alt-textbooks 

    IMG_0006It is encouraging to see a higher ed institution like Temple University encouraging their faculty to create their own e-textbooks. Their alt-textbooks project gives a faculty member a small grant of $1,000 to create their own e-textbook resource from publically available sources interleaved with materials traditionally authored by them. A range of authoring tools supporting multimedia of all kinds are combined in these rich media texts in a standard format. The students then have customised resources accessed from a range of devices available 24/7 online for each subject at no cost.

    Surely this is a model my own small institution could adopt at little cost.

    [For anyone interested I used Wasabi Paint on the iPad to create the crude diagram. I wouldn’t recommend this app an won’t be using it again. Other than limited undo their appears to be no erasure tool.]

  • Michael Rees 13:12 on 22/03/2012 Permalink | Reply  

    When Uncertain Just Start 

    imageSome sage advice in a post on a way forward when you ask ‘what to do when you don’t know what to do’ from a new volume by Schlesinger, Kiefer & Brown published by the Harvard Business School.

    The basic advice is to follow the Act, Learn, Build and Repeat loop:

    1. Start with desire.
    2. Take a smart step as quickly as you can toward your goal.
    3. Reflect and build on what you have learned from taking that step.
    4. Repeat.
  • Michael Rees 06:12 on 16/01/2012 Permalink | Reply

    Ebook Lending Demand Soars, Libraries Struggle 

    In a post from the Washington Post:

    Even though Maryland’s entire library system more than doubled its inventory in the past couple of years, it has fewer than 10,000 copyrighted e-books available. Meanwhile, the number of e-book checkouts across the state almost quadrupled in that time, to 266,000 last year.

  • Michael Rees 21:39 on 04/01/2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: education technology   

    Shortlist for Horizon 2012 Report Holds Few Surprises 

    While the full report will not appear until next month the New Media Consortium has published the shortlist of 12 technologies for its 2012 Horizon Report for Higher Education. This list will be whittled down to 6 in the final report. A summary with the likely time horizons:

    Less than 1 year: Cloud Computing, Mobile Apps, Social Reading, Tablet Computing
    2-3 years: Adaptive Learning Environments, Augmented Reality, Game-Based Learning, Learning Analytics
    4-5 years: Digital Identity, Gesture-Based Computing, Haptic Interfaces, Internet of Things

    Social reading is very much in its infancy especially in a generic sense and its impact in the coming year seems to be optimistic. I think the 2-3 year horizon list is about right. Universal digital identity is important for all cloud computing and hardly seems education-specific. It is strange not to see voice assistance listed here given the major impact that the Siri voice technology appears to be having on students. I would combine this with gestures and the uncertain appearance of haptic devices together in User Experience as a personal choice.

    We await the final list in February. Thanks for Grainne @gconole for the heads-up.

  • Michael Rees 17:26 on 12/12/2011 Permalink | Reply

    The Closed Academic Journals Call to Arms 

    We saw danah tweet her frustration and she has now followed up with a post entitled Save Scholarly Ideas, Not the Publishing Industry (a rant). In this she poses two questions:

    Q1. What are *you* doing to resist the corporate stranglehold over scholarly knowledge in order to make your knowledge broadly accessible?

    Q2. What are the five things that you think that other scholars should do to help challenge the status quo?

    The best I can offer is a refusal to referee for closed access journals/conferences and to publish my thoughts and ideas in public blogs open to all. A small contribution to danah’s mission of ‘making scholarly knowledge widely accessible’.

  • Michael Rees 17:12 on 12/12/2011 Permalink | Reply

    Journal of Visualized Experiments, A New Type of Journal 

    The journal exploits its video-only content and thereby claims benefits such as rapid knowledge transfer, better explanation of complexity, accurate reproduction of intricate processes, and the integration of time into the content. Sadly the fact of being video-based is used to explain its closed nature – video production is too expensive to be open access! Interesting concept though that can be exploited in many other scientific and engineering disciplines.

    2011-12-12 SNAG-01Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE) is a peer reviewed, PubMed indexed journal devoted to the publication of biological, medical, chemical and physical research in a video format. …

    JoVE takes advantage of video technology to capture and transmit the multiple facets and intricacies of life science research. Visualization greatly facilitates the understanding and efficient reproduction of both basic and complex experimental techniques, thereby addressing two of the biggest challenges faced by today’s life science research community: i) low transparency and poor reproducibility of biological experiments and ii) time and labor-intensive nature of learning new experimental techniques.

    Thanks to @gsiemens and @veletsianos for the heads-up.

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