Most of us use software tools like Microsoft Word and PowerPoint to develop teaching and learning resources, but what if you want to do something a bit more creative or innovative, what other tools are available? A good place to find out is Jane Hart’s website, Centre for Learning & Perfomance Technologies (C4LPT). Jane used to work in Higher Education and is now a Learning Consultant and regular speaker at learning events and through her website she shares free resources about learning trends, technologies and tools.
One of the popular features of Jane’s website is the Directory of Learning Tools, which details hundreds of both commercial, free and open source tools. You can browse for tools under different categories such as instructional tools for creating online content, image, audio and video tools, blogging and wiki tools and also collaboration tools. Each category has tools organised in A-Z lists so if you’re looking for something specific it’s easy to find.
Another feature of the C4LPT is the ‘top tools’ feature. Jane invites teachers to submit their top 10 teaching and top 10 learning tools each year and then compiles an annual top 100. You can see which tools made the top 100 for 2009, based on contributions from 278 learning professionals worldwide, in the presentation below and read more about the individual contributions to the list here.
The Library announced today that they will be launching a new search system to the Library and Learning Centre homepage – you can read about it on the LLC website.
I’ve been lucky enough to have had early access to the new seach tool and I’m sure that both staff and students will find it helpful as you can search all the Library’s content including electronic journals through one search box. As you set up your search you can decide whether you just want to search peer reviewed journals and whether you want to limit yourself to items which have the full text online. As you work through your search results you can save the references that look most helpful and relevant and email these to yourself or export them to Endnote. At the moment there’s no support for exporting the results to some of the popular Web 2.0 reference management tools like Mendeley, citeulike or Zotero. That said most journals I seem to look at these days do support saving to citeulike, which is nice and handy so you can save a reference there once you’ve seen whether the paper is one you want to keep on file.
I’ll update the blog once the new search tool goes live.
Photo credit – rachellake Flickr
Nature Publishing Group has launched Scitable, a personal learning tool and library, which initially is focussing on genetics, the study of evolution, variation, and the rich complexity of living organisms.
The site is aimed at both students and academics with free registration. For students there are series of learning paths which cover topics such as cancer, genetic testing and chromosomes and disease. Students can also experts questions, access a library of articles on various topics and connect with other students to form study groups or take part in discussions. Teaching staff can use Scitable to build a free research space for their students and provide students with daily RSS news feeds from Nature.com, Science Blogs and Scientific American.
Interesting to see that some of the Royal Medical Colleges now have a presence of Twitter. Whilst many dismiss Twitter as a bit of geeky fad or a boring irrelevance there is no getting away from the fact that more and more professional groups are using it to disseminate information. Also increasing numbers of educationalists and doctors are using Twitter to network with other professionals to discuss ideas, share links to information and resources and to ask for help and advice. Journals like the BMJ have an active Twitter presence as does the BMA and the NHS also has several Twitter channels.
Some of the Royal Medical Colleges are also now on Twitter, you’ll find the RCGP, RCPsych, RCS England and the RCObsGyn. The Colleges are tweeting links to new clinical guidelines, news articles featuring comments from College members, research articles and general news stories relating to their specialism and to College news and events. You’ll see from the screenshot below that the RCS think the other Royal Medical Colleges will be joining them on Twitter soon.
With so much information on the web and everyone seeming to be busier and busier it’s helpful to know about some tools that can help you organise the information you’re interested in. One of the ways to help manage information is to use RSS feeds, yet to many the term RSS is just a piece of techno babble! So what is RSS?
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary. It’s essentially a feed of information which may be a headline, a summary or full text of information published on the web. Websites like BBC News, the Guardian, the BMJ, SIGN, blogs, video sharing sites and most academic journals now distribute their content via RSS feeds. This is all good news because it means that we can subscribe to these RSS news feeds using an RSS newsreader. Whenever you see the RSS icon (shown here to the left) on a website or on the address bar in your web browser, this indicates that the site has an RSS feed that you can subscribe to. If you subscribe to these feeds it means that you can retrieve all the latest information from the sites you’re interested in dynamically in one place rather than having to trudge from site to site to see if there’s any new content. Take a look at this video put together by Sarah Horrigan of Nottingham Trent University to get an overview of RSS.
There are different ways to subscribe to RSS feeds. You can subscribe to them in your web browser, i.e. in Internet Explorer, Firefox, Flock, Safari etc. This is fine but if you use different computers you might want to consider using a web-based news reader which you can access anytime you are on the web. One option as outlined in Sarah’s video is Google Reader, another is Netvibes. You can take a look at a Netvibes page that I’ve put together with some RSS feeds relating to some respiratory journals and organisations. With Netvibes you can create your own personal pages of RSS feeds and also share pages publicly and embed images, and widgets for sites like Facebook, for searching sites like Google, PubMed etc. The page I’ve linked to from this post includes a widget which allows you to search the BMJ (thanks to Anne Marie Cunningham at Cardiff for creating and sharing this).
I subscribe to well over 100 RSS feeds across a whole range of work and personal related interests. Using an RSS reader saves me a lot of time, there’s no way I would have time to visit all these sites. I check my reader and look at the headlines and can quite quickly see what looks interesting and what I want to take a closer look at. Why not give RSS a try yourself and start start subscribing to some feeds from your favourite websites. If you need any help to get started post a comment and I’ll follow up with you.
In my presentation at last week’s ACT meeting I mentioned the TED talks videos which are freely available to view and share on the web. The TED talks are 15-18 minute presentations about ‘ideas worth sharing’ in science, technology, business, global issues, design and entertainment and well worth a look. There’s an example of a TED talk below by Hans Rosling, Professor of Global Health at the Karolinska Institute, on HIV where he uses Gapminder to show the latest stats on HIV infection. There are some others you can view in the vodpod widget in the sidebar of this page or you can go direct to ted.com
Next month in San Diego TED will be holding TEDMED 2009, the first TED dedicated entirely to talks on medicine and healthcare. The talks will cover topics such as ageing, cancer, surgery, open research in medicine and communicating medical information. The TEDMED website has the full list of speakers and the titles of their talks. As with other TED talks these will be available online after the event. It should be worth taking a look at the TEDMED talks for general interest and it may be that some of the talks could be used in teaching resources.
We have lift off on the new Dundee e-MedEd Blog. This blog will be a hub for disseminating news, tips, ideas and links to other sites relating to medical education and on-line learning.
To kick things we’ll take a brief look at how the web has been changing over the past few years. A buzz phrase in e-learning and tech-geek circles is Web 2.0. But what is Web 2.0 and what was Web 1.0?
The worldwide web as many people use it is Web 1.0 where we look for information, find it and read it, in what is essentially a one-way process. With the development of new free and open source tools over the past few years the web has now become the read write web, a creative space and a place to network with other people. This is Web 2.0, it is a more social and interactive form of the web and it encompasses blogging, wikis, podcasts, photo and video sharing, social bookmarking and social networking. Individuals can now create and publish their own content using free tools which let you write and publish to the web without needing to be an IT anorak who understands html or xml. There is also growing interest and research into how Web 2.0 can support teaching and learnng across the continuum of education. For an overview on the changing nature of the internet and the world of Web 2.0, the new social, read write web check out this this video by Michael Wesch, Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology of Kansas State University.