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EdTech: Useful online tools for academics

PGCAP, University of York, 2015

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Transcript of EdTech: Useful online tools for academics

useful online tools for academics
A brilliant site full of professional standard images, licensed for re-use - it's even possible to use these for commercial purposes.

Go to
and run a search, see what you find.
Good fonts are underrated - they make a HUGE difference to how good a poster or presentation or flyer looks.

Go to
and browse - they're all freely downloadable.
Tumblr is a short-form blogging platform - somewhere between a regular blog and Twitter
Posts are usually short, very visual (lots of pics and animated gifs), and easy to 'reblog' (like a ReTweet)
Tumblrs can be useful in the academic environment
if you have a specific reason for using them
- there's no point in using Tumblr just as a regular blog
Good reasons for having a Tumblr:
1) appealing to youth (majority of users younger than 35 years old; nearly 40% under 25)
2) you want to showcase something visual on an on-going basis
3) you want a short, snappy alternative to existing main blogs
4) may be more likely to get fully participation from student bloggers...

Using it well
#tags are key

Notes and Reblogs help

Tap into memes
(Key to how people find tumblrs; only the first 5 are searchable)
(As with all social media, you get less out of it if you only broadcast)
(Of all the academic outputs, Tumblr is perhaps the chance to have the most fun...)
Ned Potter | Academic Liaison Librarian
The designer's secret weapon! Loads of useful images, all of which are available to use however you like.


Millions of images - but you need the right license to use them in your presentations.

Images can be used in all the obvious places (posters, digital screens, websites and teaching materials) but also in blog-posts, tweets, Issuu / Scribd PDFs, etc. There are loads of high quality images available for free.
Self analysis: Tweetstats
Go to Tweetstats and put in your username - note the level of interactivity. You can tweet however you like, but generally the more interactive you are, the bigger your network.
Measure and evaluate
a couple of useful Twitter tools
Are you in tune with your network?
Do you have an international audience?
Are you broadcasting or interacting?
Support the module
Using a hashtag for the module (e.g. #CHE2C32) provide further reading suggestions, interesting links to related content, additional assignments for keen students, reminders about deadlines, clarifications and answers to questions, third-party opinions and stories.

Enhance the lecture / lab-session / clinic
The backchannel… Allows students to ask questions, emboldens them, allows them to share with each other. You can (twt)poll them during the session.

High risk, high reward.

4 ways to use Twitter in teaching
Content on Twitter is ephemeral, but it doesn't have to be...
Storify is the perfect tool for this -easy to use, and anyone can access it
Twitter Analytics
Twitter's own analytics tool - incredibly detailed, very useful, only available to all since September
What's the
big dea

Social media as conversation
Twitter is arguably the single most useful social media tool in the HE environment (but it does, of course, depend on your individual needs!) - not least because there's a
HE presence there already.
You can broadcast, listen and converse
Informal and colloquial nature of Twitter (like having a face-to-face conversation) makes it ideal for getting feedback and ideas, instigating collaborations, keeping in touch
You can build a network
It's a great funnel for all your other social media activity - more people will see your presentations, your videos, and discover your traditionally published work.
Make meaningful comparisons between 28 day periods:
Where your followers are from affects when you should tweet key information
Final questions
or comments?
Understand how many people actually see your tweets
(It's far less than you think, so tweet key messages more than once)
Thank you for coming!
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.
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)
Slideshare is to PowerPoints what YouTube is to videos. People upload and discover presentations.
You set up your own profile.
Slideshare 'features' presentations in various categories
Good for creating a visual taster of ideas, and for uploading conference presentations. The content is flexible once uploaded. Plus...
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.
The authorship and content is flexible.

The style is more direct and colloquial than other means of academic communication.

It no longer matters that they're blogs
Blogging takes place on a number of free external platforms...

...or within the VLE.
Blogs are free, easy to use, mobile-ready, google-friendly ways of creating an online presence, becoming part of a wider dialogue, and managing your reputation.

"Why let Google and Bing dictate your online identity?"
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
Blogs can also be useful teaching tools.

"...blogging can enhance peer interaction, allow for synthesis of course content, and help sustain student engagement"
Oomen-Early, Jody; Burke, Sloane (2007) Entering the Blogosphere: Blogs as Teaching and Learning Tools in Health Education
It's quick, too
Are you blogging as you, as a potentially identifiable pseudonym, or completely anonymously?

Are you blogging alone, with a partner, or as part of a departmental / project team?

Is blogging going to be a major activity or a minor activity?

Is it for teaching, profile boosting, both?

Potential uses for blogs in teaching?
Provide further assignments for students to work on
Have students work in small groups to write and post summaries of content covered in class to build a compendium for content covered over a semester
Use blogs for peer learning. Encourage students to post comments on each others postings
Use blogs for projects where students need to include videos, clips, audio, text and images


“Safe” place for students and staff
Enrolments and availability already in place
Easy to set up, customise privacy and observe
Blogging activities can be contextualised with other teaching materials
Familiar for staff and students know it
Archiving policy
Easy access for students to each other’s blog for peer review
Reasons to blog in the VLE (from Simon Davis)
Do you already have a blog as a researcher?
Would or do you use blogs in a teaching context?
(Or just host presentations externally and embed them locally)
Visual presentations more likely to get 'featured' and reach further
If you've used fancy fonts, save your PPT as a PDF for Slideshare
Tag your presentations with local as well as contextual information
Upload just before conference presentations so you can share at the end
Embed textual content (handouts, guides etc) via:
The most fun you can have image-searching... Searches by colour, then by tags.


You can boost citations
Display the backchannel on screens in the room
Keep in touch
Excellent for postgrads who aren’t on campus – but also for all students, to have regular interaction outside the scheduled lectures and seminars.

Synchronous and asynchronous communication
Twitter allows you to post key information to found later – as does BlackBoard – but can also talk in real time and answer queries on the fly.

Can Twitter work in your classroom?
What is it?
Why use it?
How does
it work?
My own reasons
Prezi is a zooming presentation software. That means that instead of moving in a linear fashion from slide-to-slide, 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 hierarchy onto the information, rather than being dictated to by PPT.

You can easily tailor the same Prezi for different uses - in person and online.

Also, you can get away with having lots of text on a 'page' more so than you can with PowerPoint.

It has only been around since 2009. It has around 30 millions users.

Prezi is free to use - plus it's all online so you don't have to download anything.
You start off with either a template or a completely blank canvas. You put things on it wherever you want. You focus on them in the order you specify.
It has, to some extent, flipped the PowerPoint paradigm
upside down...
Plus, the feedback is often fantastic.
An academic perspective:
Rafe Hallet, University of Leeds

Fresh, new.

Non-linear. Go anywhere.

Show your audience everything at once.

Zoom in on detail. (Or zoom out for the big reveal)

So much easier than PPT for embedding video!

Works well as a stand-alone presentation online

May inspire you to present differently

90% of Prezis aren't very good!
Chance of people finding them before they're ready
Too cool for school kids don't like them
Can give the audience motion-sickness
New - so it improves all the time
but it also changes all the time
Need the internet (but can save to USB)
If you go too mad, the
medium obscures the message
A nice academic example from Steven Pinker at Harvard

Any comments or questions?
Is Prezi for you..?
Full transcript