Can be about blogs in general or blogs for teaching and learning.

Because I can…

Herve and I are on the train to Nottingham… nothing to report yet but posting this because I can! feel like I’ve moved into the 21st century – I’m liking this new Vaio and wireless malarky!

March 29th, 2007|Blogging|2 Comments|

WordPress Commenting Plugin

This is an interesting commenting tool in use (and probably an interesting read but I haven’t got that far yet!). A blog that allows you comment on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis. It’s being used here to draft a paper on the future of learning institutions. According to Scott Leslie it’s a WP plugin.

March 28th, 2007|Blogging|1 Comment|

Was Pepys an early blogger?

“Was Pepys an early blogger?” ask LSE’s Tony Barnett in a recent ‘argument’ with the New Statesman’s Ben Davies!

But, most of all, the professor wanted to talk about blogs. “My son writes a blog – his latest entry talks about doing yoga and reading John Fowles’s The Magus. Now who’s going to be interested in that?”

“Mind you,” he answered himself, “my son has a female admirer called ML in Washington – perhaps it’s a new form of dating agency . . . or is it like those round robins you get at Christmas. We get one from a man in which he tells us about his hamster . . .”

“Perhaps,” I interjected, “blogs are a bit like diaries – at one end of the scale you get a daily record of a mundane life: ‘Got up, went to the toilet, made tea, read paper’, and at the other you have Pepys recording the fire of London?”

“Now that’s interesting,” he responded, “Was Pepys an early blogger? Did he write because he witnessed momentous things or were they momentous because he wrote about them?”

The journalist bought the chance to argue with Prof. Barnett for £90 in a charity auction.  See Spat’ll be ninety quid in the New Statesman for the full story. The recently revamped NS uses a blog format for most of it’s site now with RSS feeds, commenting and links to other social software (post to etc).

March 23rd, 2007|Blogging, Social Media|Comments Off on Was Pepys an early blogger?|

Terry Anderson on PLEs

I attended a CDE event today delivered by Terry Anderson of athabasca univeristy, canada’s equivalent of the OU. The session had been advertised as blogs and social software but the focus was Personal Learning Environments (based on social software).  He described a PLE as a “web interface into the owners’ digital environment” and spoke about the institutional VLE being replaced by an institutional PLE (such as elgg) as a transitory step to individuals choosing their own PLEs.  This year he has`been teaching a class using Moodle for content, elgg, branded as me2you for blogging and making connections, elluminate for real time stuff and furl for bookmarking and sharing web resources.

Couple of quick things – Athabasca are using moodle, he mentioned some recent data on web2.0 use from the jisc spire project which might be worth a look and a strongly recommended read was Seely Brown new learning environmnts (2006).

March 21st, 2007|Blogging, Social Media|Comments Off on Terry Anderson on PLEs|

Some thoughts on Virtual research environments

I have been thinking about virtual research environments.

In this context I’m not so much interested in all singing all dancing high-end research environments but rather the provision of a set of tools that will assist academics in the kind of research collaboration I believe many of them are engaged in.

We have recently been asked to set up a WebCT course so that a group of academics worldwide can edit a book. We set up a wiki link to a web site for a European wide research project. Anthropology want some kind of virtual research environment to work with colleagues in China and elsewhere. We’ve also had several requests for blogs and wiki is linked to groups a PhD students or research groups. I also suspect that a number of academics are exploring the research potential of the Google suite of tools.


The external hosted version of elgg has been relaunched as eduspaces.  And I think elgg is defintely worth revisiting… I’ll certainly be having a more detailed look soon.  Just need a project  / interested academic…  Since I last looked at it, with a group of PhDs about a year ago, and decided it wasn’t quite there, the following things have changed:

  • Look and feel
  • Much improved navigation – links to your own profile, blog, files, resources (RSS feeds) are always visible
  • Your profile is more configurable
  • Community blogs can be viewed as a Forum as well as a blog
  • Messaging system introduced
  • Browse users / communities as well as search & tag cloud
  • WYSIWYG editor for blog posts and messages

All in all, much improved…

Update: In today’s seminar Terry Anderson reminded me of one of key features of elgg which we identified when looking at it previously and that’s the permissions side of things.  When posting to an elgg blog, adding a file or completing your profile you have complete control over who can see it – your content can be public, only seen by logged in users, completely private or restricted to an elgg community or a group of elgg contacts that you specify.

March 21st, 2007|Blogging, Social Media|Comments Off on Eduspaces|

Embedding YouTube in the Blog

The other day I made a post with a link to a YouTube video. I tried to embed it using the code that YouTube supplies but this resulted in the blog looking like someone had taken a sledge hammer to it… and no video.

Today Charlie Beckett was asking how to do this for his POLIS blog so I’ve been looking into it. If you look at my earlier post you’ll see that it is now working but it’s a bit fiddly. I followed instructions posted by Matthias Zeller Memento which involves turning off the visual rich editor while you make the post. I’ve found that you only need to worry about your personal settings so a revision of the instructions would be:

  1. Login to WordPress admin
  2. Go to Users
  3. Uncheck ‘Use the visual rich editor when writing’
  4. Go to Write >> Write Post
  5. Type your post
  6. Paste the ‘embed’ code for your YouTube video in the write box (copied from YouTube)
  7. Publish

And then repeat 2&3 to turn the visual editor back on!

March 16th, 2007|Blogging, Social Media|Comments Off on Embedding YouTube in the Blog|

Teaching Blog Example

A good example of a blog being used for teaching by an individual lecturer is Jonathan Briggs at Kingston University. The blog is used for lecture notes, podcasts and as well as direct communication with the students, the lecturer often replies to students comments.

March 6th, 2007|Blogging|1 Comment|

An Essay Evolves

Lynn Reynolds, a student and ‘Writing Mentor’ at London Metropolitan University is attempting to write an essay online over the next 3 weeks at Lynn writes:

The prospect of tackling an academic assignment is often daunting and anxiety-provoking, even for students who already know a lot about the topic in question. Being given model essays and model answers can actually make the problem worse; it often seems as though the writers managed to produce perfectly coherent, fully-formed arguments from thin air. “That never happens to me,” we think, and already we have that sinking sensation of failure. Model essays just make us feel inadequate. We don’t know where to start. And what’s more, even if we do get going, how do we know if we’re on the right track with the content of our assignment?

This experiment aims to shine a light into all of these dark corners.

It’ll be interesting to see how this develops… Lynn is also blogging her experience

February 12th, 2007|Blogging|Comments Off on An Essay Evolves|

Social software: Using RSS newsreaders and social bookmarking

CLT recently ran a workshop for the LSE Library e-literacy for e-learning programme called “Social software: Blog it, Tag it, Share it”. The session started with an introduction to blogs and then how to search for and find useful blogs. We then looked at various online tools available for keeping track of multiple blogs. The second half looked at social bookmarking with and various academic collaborative linking and referencing sites such as citeulike.

Rather than say more about it here I’ll point you to a recording or ‘screencast’ of the session created with Camtasia. You’ll need at least Flash Player 9 for full functionality. You can also find all of the links referred to at as well as the traditional presentation PDF, plus handouts for the personalising Google exercise and for the Google Reader exercise.

We’re running the session again on November 24th if you fancy experiencing the live event!


November 17th, 2006|Blogging, Events & Workshops (LTI), Social Media|Comments Off on Social software: Using RSS newsreaders and social bookmarking|