Category Archives: Collaboration

Google Docs

Google Docs allows users to upload existing and to create new web-based documents, spreadsheets and presentations, and to edit them on-line

Read the rest of this entry


Twitter in Higher Education

For the uninitiated, Twitter is a messaging service that limits you to 140 characters and spaces per post (or per tweet)

The advantage for a lecturer is that you don’t need to know the phone numbers of students to get messages onto their device: they are the ones who authorize their mobile phone from the website and they subscribe to your Twitter “tweet”).

Twitter is basically a potential alternative to email, instant messaging and discussion forums, as ways of communicating with students.

Students can also use this when doing their classwork, trying to understand the material. Tweet: “I don’t understand what this reading has to do with New Media? any ideas?” Other students then respond. (This actually happened recently in a class)

Students can follow someone else who is on Twitter, who interests them. For example if they are thinking about technology in education they can follow @topgold who works for LIT and Tweets about a range of topics including the use of technology in education
Twitter integrates with blogs and other Web pages, providing Flash and JavaScript code options that allow Web pages to access Twitter updates.

What are the downsides?

The most common criticism of Twitter is that it enables inane interaction. Tweets that say nothing more than “I’m eating pickles” or “Really tired today” are not uncommon, and, indeed, the value of such postings to the casual user is minimal. TO be honest I just don’t follow people who put up posts like this. However there even when you have an ideal set of people to follow, as an asynchronous broadcast service, there is no guarantee that any individual tweet will be read, let alone responded to.

The selection of video tutorials below are taken from YouTube and will help you to set up your twitter account. Click on the small box in the bottom left of the youtube screen to get the full list of youtube tutorials available through this list

For more information on Twitter please below a link to useful websites I have found on Twitter

Moodle Discussion forums to collect new class material

Discussion forums are extremely powerful tool help bring learning outside the classroom. However they also can be used to bring learning back into the classroom from the teachers point of view. This short youtube clip illustrates the different type of discussion forums available into moodle and also how to set them up.

Later clips will show you how to use this as an assignment that gets the students to assessment the contribution of their classmates

Mind Maps

mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items linked to and arranged around a central key word or idea.  They are used to generate, visualize, structure, and classify ideas, and as an aid to studyingand organizing information, solving problems, making decisions, and writing.

Mind maps can be used for:

  • problem solving
  • outline/framework design
  • structure/relationship representations
  • condensing material into a concise and memorable format

Mind-map tools that I have found useful are, Spicynodes,, SpiderScribeSlatebox  and mindmaple. Mind 42 is great for collaboration as its a web based application that doesn’t require your students to download any software and version control is not an issue. Another great web based application that can be used for mind maps is Prezi. MindMaple is a piece of software that is installed on your computer as opposed to being web based but it does offer considerably more functionality in terms of project management

Related articles

Evernote for Education

This is a great site outlining the use of Evernote for education purposes

Educational Technology Guy: Evernote for Education.

Social Bookmarking for Librarians

Social Bookmarking for Librarians

Enhancing the learner experience, using librarian facilities even when they are not open, is a goal of every college library

Read the rest of this entry

Diigo – social bookmarking

Social bookmarking is a method for Internet users to organize, store, manage and search for bookmarks of resources online. Two of the more popular bookmarking services available are Diigo and Delicious Tagging is a significant feature of both of these social bookmarking systems, enabling users to organize their bookmarks in flexible ways. I have an account on both systems but my favourite by a long shot is Diigo.

What is Diigo?

How to set up a Diigo account

How to install the Diigo Toolbar on your browser: Internet explorerGoogle ChromeFirefox

How do I use Diigo if I cannot install the toolbar on the computer I’m using i.e. if I don’t have administrator rights on the computer

How do I import my bookmarks from my computer into my Diigo account

How to bookmark a website

How to book mark an image from a website

How a teacher can give feedback through Diigo

How to annotate a website using Diigo

Saving search results with Diigo

Collaborate through technology; literature reviews

Sifting through the literature can be a daunting task. Digging through 1000’s of papers in your area of interest trying to find the most relevant ones. Then how do you store the stacks of papers that you have collected. Working with colleagues can help reduce the workload but then how do you share what you found. There are many technology based solutions that available – one of which that I have discovered recently through one of our sessions on the DIT MSc in E-learning is Endnote Web. The screencast below shows how you can share papers with colleagues after your long hard search through the literature

For more detailed instructions on using Endnote I would recommend your friendly DIT librarian as a great start

Prezi – the alternative to powerpoint, an ideal tool for group work for students

Prezi Logo

Prezi Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had a go at Prezi today – It takes a little getting used to but it is a nice alternative to powerpoint. Just like powerpoint you can spend more time messing about with the various settings changing the way things look on your presentation. So take my advice and remember that your target is to get the information across, not have it flash across the screen in bright colours and flashing lights.

Have a look at this prezi video to get yourself started

Read the rest of this entry

Wouldn’t it be nice if everybody knew how good you were at your job?

In teaching this is particularly relevant – people are very quick to point out your shortfalls, question your “long” holidays and short working week”. The majority of those people in my opinion do not know the half of what goes on in a classroom and to be honest I have given up trying to explain myself them. However I would like more of my colleagues to know what I’m doing. An ideal way to let your colleagues know is through presenting posters and papers on your work at teaching and learning conferences. There are a variety of great conferences in Ireland, three excellent conferences that spring to mind are those organised by Learning Innovation Network (LIN), Irish Learning and Technology Association (ILTA) and the National Academy for Integrated Research into Teaching and Learning (NAIRTL) respectively. For those not familiar with these type of conferences they normally consist of a keynote speaker and then the audience is usually given the option of three of four parallel sessions, i.e. three or four speakers presenting simultaneously in different rooms. You make your choice of which parallel session to attend based on two things – the title of the talk and the abstract associated with that talk

I recently had the experience of presenting at an international conference in Barcelona, Edulearn 2011. For all you Twitter fans #edulearn11 will give you an indication of the activity over the few days. With over 600 delegates from across the world and boasting six parallel sessions this conference was extremely informative. I was fortunate enough to present my work to nearly 150 of conference participants, a thoroughly enjoyable experience. I have been at conferences in the past where  I have had only 20 people in the room and although you can never predict who you are going to be “up against” presenting in the room next door I believe the number of people willing to attend your talk does not boil down to pot luck. Two key factors are your abstract and more importantly your title. With an array of talks to choose from, yours has to stand out. Most conferences produce a timetable containing a spreadsheet of all of the talks and the presenters. You have to have a title that catches the readers’ eye and ideally contains keywords related to your topic of choice. Once you’ve got them hooked on the title, most readers will glance at your abstract, normally in an accompanying conference brochure. This is your make or break moment. Your abstract has to be just right. I had the privilege of attending a module in DIT recently presented by Dr Roisin Donnelly. I have no doubt that Roisins advice helped me and I would encourage anybody interested in presenting at a conference to invest time into writing a decent title and abstract, otherwise “nobody will know how good you are at your job”