Jul 242014
 
 Posted by on July 24, 2014 post card, travel No Responses »

14764192504_b578c0bae7_oI am sitting in my little room overlooking the strand. The room is on the corner of the Strand and Waterloo Bridge and despite the size of the room, the view is large. And this song by the Kinks is running through my head.

“Dirty Old River must you keep rolling, rolling into the night. People so busy makes me feel dizzy, taxi lights shine so bright. But I don’t need no friend, as long as gaze on Waterloo Sunset I’m in paradise…”

Overall, it is coming to the end of my trip. I do think that this has been one of my best trips ever, but it is hard to tell because I have had quite a few! Travel is exhilarating, but it is also exhausting in the sense that there is so much to do that it is important to manage ones energies. There are so many wonderfully unique and renewed perspectives that I have gained on this trip, especially here in London. Travel is about exploration, but also renewal (or revisiting afresh). It is like reading a book, if you don’t plan to read it again, don’t start reading it in the first place (to paraphrase Wilde).

So, on my last day of London I’m feeling pretty grand. I have had some wonderful experiences on this trip, and with most developed world travel, the gaps between the highs and the lows haven’t been that great.

My gut feeling tells that going to South America for a whole year next year is a really good idea, but for a new and exploratory trip like this one , I possibly need to re-visit SE Asia and India on the way, because if I don’t re-visit them, I will keep going to the same place over and over again.  I change my eyes, not my cities!

Jun 242014
 
 Posted by on June 24, 2014 collaboration No Responses »

There are now many different products available for collaborative authoring of documents. The choice of which software to use depends on the particular type of authoring task being undertaken and the nature of the group undertaking the tasks. In academic work, the collaborative authoring of papers has become much more common, supported by products such as Microsoft Office, Google Docs or lesser known services such as Wiggio. However, the writing of academic articles is a highly formal and specialised process, thus in there is a need for high-calibre editing, review, citation and versioning mechanisms, especially when more than one or two authors is involved.

Whilst Google Docs was quick-off-the-mark in terms of providing a cloud-based service for the writing and editing of documents by multiple-authors, the service lacked the tools required for the more formal aspects of academic writing (such as structuring long articles, embedded tables and images, and collaborative editing, particularly through tracking-changes to the documents). Many academics settled on the power of Microsoft Word, with its sophisticated editing and track changes functionality, and then simply swapped version of the documents through email or via cloud-based services such as DropBox. This type of collaboration may be effective for thesis writing or small collaborations between say two people, but when more authors are involved it becomes highly inefficient as versioning (manual) becomes problematic as does the ability to locate who is working on what documents at a particular time.

In terms of collaborative authoring, Google Docs and Microsoft have come a long way in the past couple of years; especially in terms of the integration of their services with their respective cloud drives (Google Drive and One Drive). These cloud drives allows for the sharing and storage of documents in one central location (as with DropBox) but with the advantage of having the authoring, editing and review tools built in (ie. Word and Google Docs). Authors can work on the same document at the same time, with the contributions of each author recorded for review by the other authors.

Microsoft Office 365 is the cloud-based version of the familiar Office and offers the Office suite of tools with a large amount of storage (in OneDrive). The cloud version of Word that comes with Office 365 is not as sophisticated as the off-line version of Word, but it is integrated with it and Word documents may be down-loaded if needed. Documents may be worked on collaboratively in real-time, and then down-loaded and refined for submission as a journal article or book chapter. One of the authors, the lead author or the submitting author, could download the Word document from OneDrive, refine it in the offline version of Word, then submit it to a publisher. This is a very effective way of collaboratively authoring papers.

Jun 212014
 
 Posted by on June 21, 2014 post card, travel No Responses »

tallinn_tortureI arrived last night in my charming hostel in the Old Town of Tallinn, Estonia. I was greeted at the airport by my friend Jaan who I worked with in Melbourne a couple of years ago. Estonia is the 42nd country that I have visited and I am  not sure why I count how many countries I have been; it seems a little crude, but it is on a very basic level, one of may things that motivates me to explore new places. I have wanted to come to this part of Europe for many years, I have only been in Eastern Europe a couple of times, and never this close to the Russian Border. I was walking in Old Town last night and my friend Jaan pointed out a plaque on the wall of an expensive apartment building that stated that this is a place where the KGB tortured many Estonians.  I certainly evoked my imagination, especially in terms of wanting to learn more, but I don’t have that much time in Tallinn and travel is necessarily superficial. I first started traveling the exact time of the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the ghosts of the Cold War have been following me ever since.

Jun 202014
 

As the name suggests, Open Educational Resources (OER) are freely available resources for learning and teaching; such as documents, videos, syllabi, software, and images. The advantage for educators is that these resources may be deposited, shared and re-used thus saving time in creating new courses or updating existing courses (also the promotion of the particular institution or field and peer support for others in the same subject area is an advantage of sharing teaching materials). OER’s may be available as individual objects or bundled together as a package. They are most likely ‘open licensed’ through licenses such as Creative Commons or GNU and are made available either on the open web or within institutions. Also, the term ‘Open CourseWare is often used.

1210px-OER_Logo.svg

 

 

 

What types of materials?
The types of materials that are distributed as Open Educational Resources are usually those that have been previously used in a class-room setting, or designed for a purely online or in a blended learning context. They may be materials for activities or labs, full courses, games, lecture notes, lesson plans, teaching and learning strategies, video recorded lectures, or images and illustrations. The audience for these materials may be lecturers (which is primarily the case) or may be students or even parents or administrators.
What type of licences?
Open Educational Resources are usually licenced so that they may be easily re-used within a non-commercial educational content (ie not re-sold). Many licences allow for ‘re-mixing’ which means that they may be adapted and enhanced to suit differing institutional contexts and student cohorts. Some licences only allow for sharing and re-use and no major revision (ie. ‘read the fine print’) and many are available within the certain educational copyright regime of the particular country (ie. ‘educational use of copyrighted material’ provisions). Attribution is always an important consideration, meaning that the materials taken from OER repositories must be acknowledged so that the original creators of the work are credited.
Where are OER found?
Many OER repositories are available on the open web, such as the OER Commons project or Connexions. The repositories may be run by volunteers or through paid employees on project funding provided by a university or funding agency. Although projects such as OER Commons and Connexions were designed specifically for OER, broader definitions of the term may include projects such as the Internet Archive or even Wikipedia. OER repositories may also exist at a university level to be maintained either by the university library or through the team responsible for the university Leaning Management System (LMS). Leaner Management Systems such as Desire2Learn have inbuilt repositories so that course content may be deposited and shared at a school, faculty, or institutional level (or open to the broader community).
What are the archival (technical) standards?
When OER materials are places into a repository, metadata and archival standards need to be associated with them so that they may be easily located, archived and shared in a meaningful way. SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) is a common way in which objects may be described, zipped-up into a package and re-used by different Learner Management Systems (LMS). Succinctly, SCORM is a ‘package of lessons’ that are bundled together so as to be understood by the LMS. What this means for educators, is that when placing OER materials into a repository, the correct ‘meta-data’ (data about data) is required about the material; usually inputted through a form to demarcate the type of materials and subjects addressed.
What are the archival (teaching) standards?
Many OER resources are likewise aligned with the teaching standards that may exist in different institutions or jurisdictions. The resources available are often aligned through a peer-assessment of the OER’s utility, quality of explanation, or quality of technical interactivity. The value of this for educators is the certainty that OER resources are of high quality and currency and purposefully meet teaching challenges.

Jun 132014
 
 Posted by on June 13, 2014 digital humanities, pedagogy No Responses »

I have been working on refining my ‘blended learning’ skills of late, especially as they relate to digital humanities.  Here is an exemplar course that I created; well, at least the Unity Study Guide (the actual course is on VU’s LMS, VU Collaborate thus not generally available)

Unit_Guide_ARTSH231_Digital_History_Debates_and_Approaches

Tasmanian Convict

Tasmanian Convict

 

Apr 172014
 
 Posted by on April 17, 2014 digital humanities No Responses »

Dear Melbourne DH folk,

Following the DHA 2014 conference in Perth, a group of us are keen to start a regular Melbourne get-together for people working in and around the digital
humanities, with the working title: “DH at the Pub”.

beerOur first session is proposed for Wednesday 7 May from 5:30pm at the Prince Alfred pub (PA’s) on Grattan St, Carlton. Please spread the word to colleagues and friends who may be interested. As an extra incentive, there will be free beers for those who
arrive early!

For our inaugural event we would like to discuss: where to meet (we want to be Melbourne-wide, not Melbourne Uni focused so are open to suggestions); how often; the purpose and focus of the group; what we want to be called; and how we should communicate (a dedicated email list, Twitter, etc.). The more people who can come along to contribute their views, the better.

Thanks – we look forward to seeing you at the first Melbourne DH at the Pub session on 7 May!

Mike Jones