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#EdTech: 9 useful educational tools, to engage, communicate and keep up to date in the academic environment

Learning & Teaching Workshop, May 2013

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Transcript of #EdTech: 9 useful educational tools, to engage, communicate and keep up to date in the academic environment

The social media / academic landscape
Academics come up with theories, ideas, concepts and conclusions - Social Media can help these ideas spread and increase their impact.
Blogs and blogging
Twitter is a short-form blogging platform which allows users to exchange public messages of 140 characters or less, known as Tweets. Tweets can be entirely text-based or they can contain multimedia such as images or video, and links to anything online.

It's easy to set an account at www.twitter.com and begin tweeting right away, via:

Your tweets are seen by other Twitter users who follow you; you see the tweets of users you follow. You can quickly build up a network of peers with shared interests. There are around half a billion Twitter users worldwide.
The great underrated social media platform!

Hosts slides in such a way as to make them very shareable

Visual medium, great for giving a taster of ideas

9 useful educational tools, to engage, communicate and keep up to date in the academic environment
Tips, pitfalls, best practice etc
Official definition: Blogs are defined by their format: a series of entries posted to a single page in reverse-chronological order.

Relevant definition: Blogs are frequently updated webpages which are easy to edit and to share, to which people can subscribe so they get regular updates, and upon which people can comment and engage with the author(s) and other readers.
Blogs can be written individually or jointly, and can contain text, video, graphics etc.

They began as personal (web) logs and as such they have usually a more direct and colloquial style, which has endured even with formal, academic, or group blogs.
Blogging takes place on a number of free platforms - the most popular are Wordpress and Blogger - which provide in-built statistics. You can see how many people have read your posts and how widely they have been shared.
Blogs CAN be all about impact.

You can disseminate findings, stimulate discussion, engage a community, instigate collaborations, share information with peers. It allows you to build links and relationships even when tied to your desk.
A York blog:
As seen from the author's point of view:
Links to our main websites
Options to subscribe
Contextual information
Embedded video
The blog post itself
Basic word processor
Tags to aid discoverability
Description for Google
This blog is made with Blogger software - anyone with a Google Mail account automatically gets a blog to use if they choose to.

You can set it to 'private' until you're ready!
Social media provides reach...
Social media provides engagement...
Social media allows for dialogue and conversation, which makes people more likely to engage and make meaningful connections with their own interests
'Features' presentations across different sectors:
How else can you reach so many people?

Sand dunes picture via Flickr Creative Commons, by Edgar Baranay: original at http://www.flickr.com/photos/edgarbarany/2886320940/sizes/z/in/photostream/
Email me at ned.potter@york.ac.uk
Follow the Library on Twitter @uoyLibrary!
Find the digital learning blog at
It's easy to blog into a vacuum... To avoid this:

Promote it everywhere (other social media, email signature, embedded on website etc)

Blog post titles matter - bold is better

Add pictures, graphics, even graphs - anything visual will increase engagement

Make it as easy as possible for people to subscribe and to share
It's also an easy and effective way to positively influence your online reputation (and your reputation, online).

People ARE Googling you - a blog is a great platform for them to find, reflecting your views and findings.
"...blogging has the potential to be a transformational technology for teaching and learning."

"...blogging can enhance peer interaction, allow for synthesis of course content, and help sustain student engagement"
It is a brilliant, brilliant networking tool. It's great for connecting with useful people, finding shared research interests, keeping in touch with new contacts, disseminating findings, polling your peers.

On Twitter the information comes to you, and allows you to keep up with new ideas and developments in your field.

You can talk to people in real time or they can pick up tweets later.

It's like the really useful bits in conference *between presentations*, but all the time...

Twitter is a fantastic funnel for all your other social media presences (when you get them).

Plus it can be used for teaching if you can get students to sign up - Sara Perry (Archaeology) uses it with her Postgrads, find her at https://twitter.com/ArchaeologistSP
You set up a profile with a picture, a short bio, and a link back to your departmental page (or blog, etc).

Tweets are seen by those who follow you or those who click on your profile.

@ replies are seen specifically by those at whom they are directed.

ReTweets (RTs) are essentially quoting other tweets, with attribution. It's a way for your followers to see tweets they might not otherwise see, or for others to share YOUR tweets with their networks.

A hashtag (for example #altmetrics) is a way of bringing together several disparate Twitter users by topic, rather than by whether or not they follow each other.

A Direct Message (DM) can be sent to people who follow you.
Fad > partial acceptance > personal use (70%) > citing > increasingly vital
Always shifting:
Ned Potter, Academic Liaison Librarian
It stands for: Really Simple Syndication. Although the proper explanation is really anything but...

Relevant definition: A way to keep up to date by making the content come to you: blogs, news feeds, anything regularly updated online.
Wherever you see this symbol:

... there's a feed you can subscribe to.
Subscribing to feeds via RSS funnels all the things you're interested in (but might otherwise miss) into one place.

You can sub-divide them into folders (Must-reads, Research, Technology, Policy, or whatever).

Even once useful articles have disappeared off the front page of the sites you value, they're still waiting for you in your feed-reader.
You can also set up alerts for ego-searches, e.g. mentions of your name, your major theories / articles, or links to your blog / website.
Official definition: "A place to share and follow research"

Relevant definition: Sort of like an 'academic Facebook' - but you don't have to use it that way...
Reason 1: access to articles and people

Many researchers upload seemingly everything to their profile (including, in some cases, pre-publication copies of articles, or old and hard-to-find stuff).

No barriers to contacting authors etc, people are nice.
Reason 2: good for reputation

Academia.edu appears to have a search-engine-ranking deal with the devil! Your academia.edu profile WILL be higher up on Google than your departmental page.

When people are Googling you, greet them with your academic output.
Some very useful thoughts (from Pat Hadley, Archaeology department) are available via the York wiki:

Impact Story
Official definition: "Tell the full story of your research impact.
ImpactStory aggregates altmetrics: diverse impacts from your articles, datasets, blog posts, and more."

Relevant definition: A potentially useful tool to analyse your non-traditional academic outputs along side your traditional ones.
Measure your impact beyond the traditional means and channels, and see if your outputs are getting more traction by the academic or non-academic community!
Fabulous CC images
Official definition: Creative Commons licenses provide a flexible range of protections and freedoms for authors, artists, and educators.

Relevant definition: Useful resources (images, video, music etc), which other people have made, and which can legally be used with attribution.
There are VERY high quality materials (focus here is on images) to engage students as part of PowerPoint presentations, Prezis, blog posts, posters and so on - which free to use.
Most plentiful source of Creative Commons (CC) images is the image-site Flickr, but there's lots of other places too.

(If you make anything YOU do CC, it will likely get a lot more views / attention / use, which could lead to greater impact.)
Image-heavy PowerPoint presentations tend to be a lot more engaging and research has shown they help the key messages stick in the mind of the audience more effectively...
Taking / making your own pictures is time-consuming and hard to do well; clipart is rarely good enough to actually use
Official definition: Paper for the web. "We give you a blank wall. You put anything you want on it, anywhere. Simple, yet powerful."

Relevant definition: A virtual notice board on which anyone you give the web-address to can post virtual post-it notes.
Potentially interesting ways to interact with students and colleagues (and for students to interact with each other).

You can control your 'wall' so are able to delete anything inappropriate.
Prezi (this...)
RSS feeds
Part 1: Social Media
Part 2: Teaching
The plan
Part 1: social media
Part 2: teaching
1. Blogs
2. RSS Feeds
3. Academia.edu
4. Twitter
5. Impact Story

6. Prezi
7. Padlet
8. CC images
9. Slideshare
You usually subscribe to feeds in a 'feed-reader' - two I'd recommend are Feedly, and The Old Reader.
Feedly (http://feedly.com/)
Old Reader (http://theoldreader.com/)
Two blogs to try it out with...
Go to http://www.academia.edu/ and set up a profile - then either just use it to follow your areas of research, or put up a CV, articles and so on.
Good quality images support and reinforce what you're saying outloud / in the text
searches flickr better than flickr searches itself.
professional images, licensed for commercial use
Particularly good for 'transparent' images
Go to http://padlet.com/ and sign-up, create a wall, do anything you want with it.
(For keeping track of who is sitting where...)
(For collecting suggestions from students)
Go to http://impactstory.org/ and put in your articles, slidedecks, blog posts, websites
(Proper article)
Reasons to tweet
Common reasons NOT to tweet...
The basics of Prezi
Prezi is a zooming presentation software. That means that instead of moving in a linear fashion from slide-to-slide, you can basically do whatever you want.
Prezi is (relatively) new, so whenever you present with it much of the audience won't have seen it before. This newness, and the way it looks, gives you a headstart in terms of engaging the people watching.

You can put objects (text, images, shapes, and YouTube Videos) onto an all-but infinite canvas, and navigate between them however you like. This allows you to put your own hierachy onto the information, rather than being dictated to by PPT.

Also, you can get away with having lots of text on a 'page' more so than you can with PowerPoint.
Top tips...
Do not go mad! Prezi allows you to all sorts of wild things, but the best presentations reign in the mega-zooming or rotation for a couple of impressive moments.

Position materials sympathetically to avoid motion-sickness in the audience.

Use frames and hidden frames to group objects & control what the audience sees.
This Prezi was created in about 20 minutes, using one of the default templates.

For more Prezi guidance, including far more advanced level stuff, go to http://www.thewikiman.org/tech.htm
prezi overview
Prezi is...
Fairly new - zoomy - non-linear - not PPT - quite sexy
Prezi is not...
The answer to everything - universally popular - as easy to throw together as a rubbish slide deck - yet used across the board in HE
1. Plan the structure and outline of the presentation

2. Add the text, plus any images / videos etc

3. Move them around and arrange them in a coherent order on the canvas

4. Plot the path between them in the order you want to use

5. Click ‘Show’ and watch the presentation back, then refine it if you need to
The basic principles of putting together a Prezi are...
Best practice includes...
1. Only using a fraction of Prezi's capability for the majority of the presentation!

2. Positioning materials sympathetically, and planning your path carefully, to avoid motion sickness in your audience

3. Using hidden frames to control what your audiences see's, and when
For more tips, guidance, and best practice:
The Ultimate Guide to Prezi - http://bit.ly/preziguide
The response to trialling Prezi within Academic Liaison has been extremely positive, with all the Librarians using Prezi reporting much increased student engagement, In some cases the students literally sat up straight in their seats and paid more attention!
The undergrad:
"Did you make that presentation yourself?! It was amazing!"

The PhD researcher:
"That was extremely impressive!"

The Academic:
"That went down very well, and generated a much greater response from the students than in previous years – it’s a great presentation format, so do pass on that feedback."

The Head of Department::
"That was absolutely incredible, you'll have to teach us all how to do that"

The Library Rep:
"With the students, you're the cool one in the department now..."

The academic who has since started using Prezi:
"The ideal impact on student engagement is when the immediate aesthetic impact of Prezi - its visual stimuli and narrative innovation - smuggles in a new way of presenting ideas.

I have found that re-writing lectures through Prezi has forced me to cluster key concepts and terms in a new way, and to use the space of the Prezi canvas to make connections between themes and details that were previously obscured by a linear or conventionally narrative lecture presentation."
So we really don't need
any of this
A bit more depth
Good for non-linear ideas
Good for stand-alone web objects
Good for making things fresh
Not good for motion sickness
(unless you take steps to prevent it)
Not good if you go mad with the whizzing, rotating side of things - you might obscure your message...
Save your Prezis to a USB stick just in case
Plan your handouts in advance
Use hidden frames, and think in 4:3 ratios
Sign up for the educational licence for free
Oomen-Early, Jody; Burke, Sloane (2007) Entering the Blogosphere: Blogs as Teaching and Learning Tools in Health Education
Jeremy B Williams (2004) Exploring the use of blogs as learning spaces in the higher education sector
The best way to find out if Twitter is for you is to search it for things that interest you:

Don't just take my word for it!
(Conversation on academic use of Twitter, started by @professor_dave)
Full guide to Twitter, including a glossary of terms, available via:

3 minutes
In a way which is VERY different from PowerPoint...

It's an entirely online software. at http://ww.prezi.com
Becoming a Networked Researcher - suite of workshops in June:
Harry Fairhurst PC Room, 12:30 - 14:00
Email rdt@york.ac.uk to book on one or more of them.
10th: Blogs and Blogging
12th: Collaboration and Dissemination
14th: Twitter
Rafe Hallet, University of Leeds
This presentation at:
This presentation at:
Full transcript