Monthly Archive for October, 2009

HE oddments from RSC NewsFeed

RSC NewsFeed Tabbloid Edition Cover The RSCs in Scotland publish a fortnightly electronic newsletter, RSC NewsFeed, to keep the FE and HE community informed about the latest ICT-related news, events and resources.

Our editor, Hugh Daily, does a stirling job in rallying us all to make contributions. For the edition published however Hugh was away so I made a concerted effort to make sure there was enough ‘in the store’. This resulted in a record breaking 8 post from your truly (my posts are here).      

A couple of these posts are very pertinent to HE so I would like to repost them here:

First I would like to highlight the work of Alistair Young, Senior Software Developer at UHI, who won a prize in JISC MOSAIC Developer Competition.

Alistair’s prize winning iLib, the Course Book Finder perhaps highlights how roles within institutions are becoming increasingly blurred. In my own work as a learning technologist I’m finding more need to understand computer programming and server architecture. This may also be evident in another post from this week highlighting that St George’s University London have won this years JISC Times Higher Education award for their virtual paramedic training in Second Life. Having had an insight into this project it is clear that the team have had to be multi-disciplined and multi-skilled. 

The final post I would like to highlight is on the International University of the People. This is a project which is exploring low-cost higher education achievable by using online communities to support learning. Cost is obviously a big talking point now particularly with the looming New Framework for universities.

What I've starred this week: October 27, 2009

Here's some posts which have caught my attention this week:

Automatically generated from my Google Reader Shared Items.

What I've starred this week: October 20, 2009

Here's some posts which have caught my attention this week:

Automatically generated from my Google Reader Shared Items.

RSC Google Wave Phase I: Local installation

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Like many others out there I’m interested in Google Wave and the opportunities for communication, collaboration and social learning in education. Followers of my twitter feed will also be aware that I’ve been scrabbling around for an invite to the wave preview site (this is hopefully now in hand thanks to colleagues).

One of the reasons I’m interested in Google Wave is because it isn’t limited to running from one of Google’s own servers. From the very outset Google have laid out their stall, making available the Google Wave Federation Protocol, essentially the building blocks which would enable any organisation to setup and run their own Google Wave service.

The way we intend to support Google Wave within our region is to establish a special interest group (SIG) and host our own Google Wave service to allow staff (both academic and technical) to explore the use of Wave. As Google are still beta testing Wave it will not be until the new year that we will be formally pulling this group together, but this hasn’t stopped us laying some of the groundwork.

Phase I has been to install a local prototype server. Before you get your hopes up and think you can run a fully featured Wave service the current code only allows you to run a very basic client and server (see photo insert above). We are using this phase of the project to explore some of the server side techie bits (it also not necessary to run a prototype server on a Wibrain – it just happened to be the only linux box I had available ;-).

If you would like to try installing your own prototype server my main reference was the Installation Guide on wave-protocol Google code and a screencast by Luc Castera which originally appeared on his dambalah blog in July, embedded below. I’ve also prepared some of my own prototype server installation notes here – enjoy ;-):

Installing the Google Wave Server Reference Implementation from messagepub on Vimeo.

Educational Firefox Extensions - Juice

I originally put this post together for RSC NewsFeed, but thought worth reposting here:

One of the great features of open source software is the potential for the wider community to start rapidly developing and integrating new features, in many ways utilising the power of the crowd. The web browser Firefox is a great example. Its origins lie in the developers frustrations of developer driven feature creep. Creating an open project has resulted in a staggering number of add-on customisations. Currently there are  over 10,000 official add-on are list on the Firefox site. Whilst many of this extensions haven’t been designed with educational uses in mind many lend themselves to potentially enhancing the student’s learning experience. One such example is the social research extension Juice.

Juice basically allows you to pull up additional research information from a web page by using a simply mouse gesture. The information is then presented in a sidebar so that you don’t have to navigate away from the original page. Juice has a degree of ‘intelligence’ when discovering search results. For example, names of people or places are referenced by Wikipedia while movie names might return results from YouTube or IMDB. This in itself is a great achievement but the makers of Juice have gone one set further by offering the opportunity to link your research results to your Facebook account adding a whole additional social dimension. The clip below explains all:

Meet the new Juice from Thijs Jacobs on Vimeo.

Visit to get the Juice extension

If your campus doesn’t support Firefox don’t forget you can download a portable version as part of the EduApps suite, this will allow you to run it from a USB stick. If you are interested in other ‘educational’ extensions for Firefox we’ve created the Educational Extensions Collection which contains some more add-on you might want to tryout yourself or recommend to students.

What I've starred this week: October 13, 2009

Here's some posts which have caught my attention this week:

Automatically generated from my Google Reader Shared Items.

RSC-MP3: HE Update Sep 09

Logo for RSC-MP3Welcome to our first episode of RSC-MP3 for the new academic year. RSC-MP3 is a monthly audio podcast highlighting some higher education focused e-learning news, interviews and resources brought to you by Kevin Brace (JISC RSC West Midlands) and Martin Hawksey (JISC RSC Scotland North and East). As ever we have summarised links to the various topics we discuss and indicate the timestamps so you can jump straight to our insightful repertoire. You can listen to this podcast on your computer, or when “on the move” by adding it to your ipod playlist. Here is an archive of our recordings, which is also available on iTunes.

Also this month instead of our usual supplementary interview we thought we would review all the interviews from the last academic year. Click here for the interview review in full.

HE Update
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Duration: 22 minutes
Size: 20 MB

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Our blogs

Links from Kevin’s subjects: Timestamps represented as [minutes:seconds]

Links from Martin’s subjects: Timestamps represented as [minutes:seconds]

Intro/Outro music: 1-2-3-4 from stream of unconsciousness by Jeremy B. Northup

RSC-MP3: HE Update Sep 09 – Interview Review

Logo for RSC-MP3To kick-off the new academic year we look back at the interviews recorded for last year’s RSC-MP3. We have a rich resource of interviews from noted practitioners (and guru’s) from both the UK and even overseas and we discuss our particular highlights from the year. As well as looking back we also look towards the future with some of the interviews we will hopefully be releasing over the coming year. We already have some great interviews lined up on topics like rapid e-learning, e-portfolios and assessment. As always we have summarised the links discussed below.

Interview Review 2008/09
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Duration: 15 minutes
Size: 11MB

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Intro/Outro music: 1-2-3-4 from stream of unconsciousness by Jeremy B. Northup

Integrating twitter voting and feedback into PowerPoint

Regular readers of this blog will know that one of my current interests is using twitter as a live in-class voting tool (TwEVS). Today, via Jane Hart, I was made aware of ‘Free PowerPoint Twitter Tools’ developed by Timo Elliott.

Timo’s solution not only integrates voting within a PowerPoint presentation, but he has some other nice features including a real-time twitter ticker-tap and a feedback wall which pulls questions and response from twitter (shown below).

Using these tools is very easy and all you need to do is download the PowerPoint .ppt file with embedded tools and instructions from Timo’s site (unfortunately PowerPoint for Mac isn’t support yet).

The technology behind this solution is simple Adobe Flash which was developed using SAP BusinessObjects Dashboarding product, Xcelsius (don’t worry all you need to use this solution is PowerPoint and Adobe Flash Player). Initially the PowerPoint file didn’t work for me but thanks to a suggestion from Timo it was traced to a problem with my Flash Player installation. If you experience problems I would suggest following the uninstall/install instructions provided by Adobe.

When I presented my solution using twitter and yahoo pipes for voting last week  I would say most of the interest was in combining in-class and out-of-class activity. Timo’s solution potential fits in well with this giving an easy way to use voting as well as a the feedback wall which could be used at any point during a presentation to stimulate dialogue.

What I've starred this week: October 6, 2009

Here's some posts which have caught my attention this week:

Automatically generated from my Google Reader Shared Items.


This blog is authored by Martin Hawksey e-Learning Advisor (Higher Education) at the JISC RSC Scotland N&E.

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